CHICAGO – The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) held its first virtual membership meeting on Sunday, June 8. This annual meeting, formerly a face-to-face event presented during the ALA Annual Conference, provided AASL members with a “state of the association” update via reports from AASL leadership. Topics included AASL initiatives, programs, recognitions and financial standing. The meeting was recorded, and all are invited to view the archive at www.ala.org/aasl/vmm.
During the event, AASL President Gail Dickinson reflected on her presidential year and its theme, “It’s Not about Libraries, It’s about Learning,” which focused on building the next generation of school librarians. She highlighted key events, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded national research forum Causality: School Libraries and Student Success and the AASL 16th National Conference & Exhibition. Dickinson also reviewed the process of developing a new strategic plan for the association. She outlined the key areas addressed by the plan and noted that a draft has been submitted to the AASL Board of Directors for approval during the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas.
President-Elect Terri Grief shared how her experiences as a solo librarian in her school and her participation in the AASL Affiliate Assembly influenced the theme for her upcoming presidential year, “Strengthening Our Community.” Grief looks forward to building a stronger association through implementation of the new strategic plan, increasing the involvement of state-level school librarian associations, and building partnerships between retired school librarians and new school librarians. She also plans to engage more members in the organization by offering new volunteer opportunities and building a directory of experts.
Karen Lemmons, AASL treasurer, shared AASL’s stable financial status. She noted that AASL’s non-serial publications have done well, with two books having been published in the last year. Lemmons also shared AASL’s current membership statistics, which reflect a 6 percent increase in 2014 over 2013. The AASL 16th National Conference & Exhibition was well attended and considered successful; however, Lemmons noted revenues did not meet budget expectations.
Other speakers during the meeting included Susan Ballard, AASL past president; Valerie Edwards, AASL representative to ALA Council; Catherine Evans, AASL executive committee member-at-large; Merlyn Miller, AASL Affiliate Assembly chair; Devona Pendergrass, AASL representative to the ALA Annual Conference committee; and Sylvia Knight Norton, AASL executive director.
“Today’s event was an exciting first for AASL,” said Gail Dickinson, AASL President. “I hope that it is a precursor for future Virtual Membership Meetings that allow all AASL members to attend and stay up-to-date on the work that our organization undertakes for the school library profession. This strong participation and the voices of all of our members allows AASL to grow stronger as an association.”
Attendees enjoyed the new virtual format, sharing their thoughts in the chat box. One attendee said, “I appreciate the virtual format for the annual membership meeting. Today's experience has been very informative and organized -- and I would have missed the information, since I’m not attending ALA this year. Hope the virtual meeting becomes an annual event.”
The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of 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.