COLUMBUS, OHIO – The American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) 17th National Conference in Columbus, Ohio, has come to a close. Attended by more than 2,600 school librarians, administrators and exhibitors, the conference empowered school librarians to continue their roles as education leaders within a technology-driven academic landscape.
Themed “Experience Education Evolution,” the event brought together school librarians, educators, authors and exhibitors at the only national conference dedicated solely to the needs of school librarians. Attendees participated in preconference workshops, author events, more than 100 concurrent sessions and access to an exhibition featuring companies relevant to school libraries and their users.
New to the conference was the participation of school administrators. More than 10 percent of attendees were school administrators who received complimentary access to the conference, so that they could attend alongside their registered school librarian.
“The value of certified school librarians continues to grow, as administrators and teachers look for education resources to better serve tech-savvy students,” said AASL President Leslie Preddy. “The 2015 conference has provided an opportunity for school librarians to explore their unique role as education leaders that shape students’ digital literacy and critical thinking skills. We have learned from attending administrators that the perception of school librarians and strong school library programs has changed from ‘nice to have’ to ‘critical,’ as such resources foster digital learning and research skills.”
The conference began with a variety of preconferences that addressed digital literacy, Web-based technologies and classroom-library collaboration.
Local school libraries opened their doors to conference attendees for tours and showcased 1:1 learning resources and shared best practices. Tour locations included Columbus International School; Weaver Middle School, Hilliard, Ohio; Saint Charles school; Columbus School for Girls; and Barrington Elementary School, Arlington, Ohio.
Best practices also fueled the displays found at the IdeaLab, a cafeteria-style sharing event that offered collections of innovative and adaptable ideas from school librarians and library educators. From STEM to STEAM to Common Core, K- 12 presentations offered something for everyone. Attendees viewed more than 26 projects based on real experiences of students and teachers. The event provided resources for school librarians and library educators to expand student learning.
Heidi Hayes Jacobs, executive director of the Curriculum Mapping Institute and president of Curriculum Designers, served as Opening Keynote speaker. Before a crowd of more than 1,000, Hayes Jacobs discussed issues and practices pertaining to curriculum mapping, dynamic instruction and 21st century strategic planning.
The Friday General Session featured members of the Project Connect panel, who engaged in a frank and honest discussion regarding what administrators need and expect from their school library programs and school librarians. Panel members included award-winning superintendents from school districts that are maximizing the impact school libraries have on student achievement.
Attendees had access to a makerspace located on the exhibit floor. The space was a new addition to the exhibits floor and provided a hands-on opportunity for attendees to explore how to set up a makerspace in their school library.
The conference provided several networking opportunities and author events, including a Diversity Author Banquet that featured authors Matt de la Peña, Rita Williams-Garcia and Sonia Manzano; a General Session with author Brian Selznick, who spoke about the value of school libraries and librarians; and a Sunday Brunch with Rae Carson, Josephine Angelini, Sabaa Tahir, Colleen Gleeson and Kate Messner, who discussed female character development in the fantasy genre.
Eszter Hargittai, a Delaney Family professor in the Communication Studies Department and faculty associate of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, delivered the Closing Keynote and provided an in-depth discussion on digital media and how a student's digital literacy skills influence what they do online.
Reporters from The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio Schools Magazine, American Libraries, Library Connection and Library Journal were onsite and provided conference coverage. Key interview topics included the valuable role school librarians play within their schools, how librarians are transforming teaching and learning, digital literacy and technology trends.
Attendees celebrated AASL’s 65th anniversary by participating in a giving campaign to help ensure the future of the school library profession. Those that provided donations received an AASL 65th anniversary lapel pin.
The AASL 18th National Conference & Exhibition will take place in Phoenix, Arizona in 2017.
For more information regarding the AASL 17th National Conference & Exhibition, please visit national.aasl.org .
The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library program services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to empower leaders to transform teaching and learning.