Nation’s largest school librarian conference comes to a close

For Immediate Release
Mon, 10/31/2011

Contact:

Macey Morales

Minneapolis– International mobile technology expert Dr. Mimi Ito brought the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) 15th National Conference & Exhibition in Minneapolis to an end. More than 3,000 school librarians, educators, exhibitors and guests discussed key issues that impact our nation’s school libraries.

Dedicated solely to the needs of school librarians, the AASL National Conference & Exhibition is the largest gathering of school librarians in the nation. The conference featured preconference workshops, several school and educational tours, more than 100 top-quality continuing education programs, thought provoking opening and closing general sessions, author events and more than 200 exhibiting companies.

“The conference has provided an opportunity to share best practices that we can take back to our school libraries,” said AASL President Carl Harvey II. “As technology continues to rapidly change it is more important than ever that school libraries and librarians have the tools and strategies to engage 21st century learners.”

Social media tools sparked conference networking opportunities.  The AASL Ning, a virtual learning commons, provided a centralized location for  attendees to connect and share blog posts, tweets, photos and videos.

National Conference participation did not require travel to Minneapolis. More than 90 attended the conference virtually.  The AASL Virtual Conference featured live streaming of the opening and closing sessions, seven concurrent sessions, more than 40 slidecasts and access to speaker handouts. All full conference attendees had access to the AASL Virtual Conference and will be able to retrieve recorded sessions and materials through Jan. 31, 2012.

The conference began with a variety of preconferences that addressed new technologies, gaming and best practices for using 21st century learning skills. In addition, a variety of local tours showcasing sites in and around Minneapolis were offered, as well as school tours for attendees interested in new ideas from some of the great local library programs .

Best-selling author Nicholas Carr served as the keynote speaker for the Opening General Session. Carr discussed how the Internet may be shortchanging students’ brain power.  Before an audience of more than 1,800 attendees, Carr emphasized the key role that school librarians hold in supporting 21st century literacy skills. “As school librarians you are at the epicenter in times of change as we see this wave of digitalization,” stated Carr. Carr shared the pitfalls of information overload and his concern about how the mass amounts of digital information are taking society away from social interactions.

Carr’s "The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains” was selected as the One Book, One Conference discussion book. This conference-wide read, a New York Times “Editor’s Choice,” explores how the Internet is changing the way people think. 

The conference’s Exploratorium featured more than 40 tabletop learning centers.  Attendees viewed displays on best practices in programming and instruction for elementary, middle and high school libraries.    “This is one of the few places where front-line school librarians get to learn from each other,” said Rebecca Pasco, University of Nebraska, Omaha. 

Conference attendees were encouraged to share stories with the American Library Association’s Washington Office on how budget cuts have impacted school library service.  Although the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, a key amendment in support of school libraries was withdrawn. The stories on underfunded school library programs will be shared with Senate members in an effort to ensure that a school libraries amendment is re-introduced to ESEA.

Dr. Mimi Ito, international mobile technology expert, headlined the Closing General Session.  Dr. Ito discussed the value of digital social media in education, countering the perception that new media is hostile to learning. Attendees enjoyed two screenings of the documentary, “Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century,” which complemented the overall theme of the conference, which was to identify and embrace new technologies and resources that will engage 21st century learners - “Turning the Page.”

Other well attended author sessions  featured  Andrea Davis Pinkney, "Let it Shine"; Pat Mora,  "Abuelos";  Joan Bauber, "Squashed";  Gennifer Choldenko, "Al Capone Does My Shirts"; and Maggie Stiefvater,  "Shiver."

The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of school library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.

For more information on the AASL 15th National Conference, please visit the Conference press kit at http://tinyurl.com/aaslpk2011, or contact Macey Morales at (312) 280-4393, or mmorales@ala.org.

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*Special thanks to "The AASL Advocate" for lending content to the above press release.