For immediate release | July 8, 2021

A Conversation with School Administrators at AASL National Conference

CHICAGO – The Friday general session during the 2021 American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National Conference will give attendees an intimate look at what administrators need and expect from their school librarians and school libraries and how administrators can empower a school librarian’s leadership role to impact all learners. Six administrators from across the country will participate in an engaging and interactive conversation sponsored by Sora, by OverDrive Education. Full information on the conference, taking place October 21-23 in Salt Lake City, Utah, can be found at

“Do you ever wonder what your administrators really want?” asked Liz Philippi, conference co-chair. “Join us at AASL21 on Friday to learn what school administrators need from us and how we can make our school libraries the heart of learning while supporting our whole campus. The Administrator General Session is the key!”

The administrators participating in the panel have worked closely with AASL over the past two years as part of an OverDrive-sponsored initiative championing the school librarian’s integral role in teaching, learning, and school culture. The "AASL School Leader Collaborative: Administrators & School Librarians Transforming Teaching and Learning" strengthened AASL’s collaboration with school administrators who are essential to recognizing and advocating for school librarians. Members of the collaborative are eager to share their observations with school librarians and fellow administrators during this unique session.

Participating in the conversation are:

  • Shawn Arnold, director of student services, Juneau School District, formerly superintendent, Nome Public Schools, Alaska
  • Sean Doherty, retired superintendent, School District of Clayton, Missouri
  • April Grace, superintendent, Shawnee Public Schools, Oklahoma
  • Kelly Gustafson, principal, Wexford Elementary School, Pine-Richland District, Pennsylvania
  • Joel Hoag, principal, Freedom Intermediate School, Franklin, Tennessee
  • Melita Walker, principal, West Middle School, Columbia Public Schools, Missouri

Conference attendees will be invited to submit questions prior to the event and Kathryn Roots Lewis and Kathy Carroll, AASL Past Presidents, will help guide the discussion.

“School librarians play such a vital role in the long-term success of their students, we’re honored to help promote their leadership role by supporting the AASL School Leader Collaborative,” said David Burleigh, Director of Brand & Communication for OverDrive. “We’re grateful for the strong and committed group of administrators for their expertise and insights that have reaffirmed the importance of having school librarians in every school.”

A one-of-a-kind event, the AASL National Conference is the only national conference dedicated solely to the needs of school librarians and their roles as educational leaders. Additionally, the conference is the only event inviting school librarians to pair their full conference registration with a complimentary administrator registration, allowing the educator team to maximize their conference experience to the benefit of their learners.

The Sora student reading app, from OverDrive Education, connects 50,000 K-12 schools worldwide with the industry's largest catalog of ebooks, audiobooks, and streaming video. Sora helps schools embrace the future of reading, providing 24/7 access to books and powerful learning tools and insights to meet the needs of students and educators. Sora was named one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2019. Founded in 1986, OverDrive – the leading digital reading platform for libraries – and OverDrive Education are based in Cleveland, Ohio USA.

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.


Jennifer Habley

Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)