AASL National Conference & Exhibition


The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National Conference is the only national conference specifically for school librarians and dedicated to the unique role they serve as leaders, instructional partners, information specialists, teachers, and program administrators. This three-day event occurs once every other year and will be taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 21-23, 2021. The conference attracts more than 1,200 school librarians from across the country to share best practice, resources, and networking. Those communicating about the national conference are encouraged to use the official hashtag, #AASL21.


Press releases:

At the heart of their schools, school librarians display the power to change communities at 2021 AASL National Conference

Registration Opens for 2021 AASL National Conference

AASL National Conference closing session will inspire school librarians to look to the future

UPstander Dr. Omékongo Dibinga to open AASL National Conference

A Conversation with School Administrators at AASL National Conference

AASL to host screening of “Trust Me” during AASL National Conference

Survey Results Show School Librarians Are Integral – During Pandemic School Closures and Beyond

Thirty AASL members receive Bound to Stay Bound grants to attend first national conference

AASL 2021 on social media




ALA @ AASL National Conference



Thursday, October 21 | 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Dr. Omékongo Dibinga is a professor of Inter-cultural Communication and a faculty affiliate to the Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University. He is also an international speaker whose life’s mission is to inspire all across the globe to take a stand when they witness an injustice, no matter how small or large.

Dr. Omékongo’s most recent book “The UPstander’s Guide to an Outstanding Life” is a life balance book for students. In his book, Dr. Omékongo provides key steps that all students must adopt to achieve greatness in their lives so they may advance their causes in the most effective way possible.

Dr. Omékongo earned his M.A. in Law & Diplomacy at the Fletcher School and his Ph.D. in International Education Policy at the University of Maryland where his dissertation centered on the global hip-hop phenomenon and Jay-Z. At UMD, he also worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Teaching Diverse Students Initiative.” Across the country he has worked with school districts on culturally relevant instruction.

Friday General Session

Friday, October 22 | 8 a.m. – 9:30 p.m

Join five superintendents and principals from across the country for an engaging, interactive, and frank conversation on 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.

The administrators participating in the general session have worked closely with AASL over the past two years as part of the AASL School Leader Collaborative, an OverDrive-sponsored initiative championing the school librarian’s integral role in teaching, learning, and school culture. They are eager to share their insights with school librarians and their fellow administrators during this conversation that will elevate and empower the voice of the school librarian.

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

Participating in the conversation are:

Shawn Arnold, Director of Student Services, Juneau School District (Former Superintendent, Nome Public Schools), Alaska

Shawn Arnold

Sean Doherty

Superintendent (Retired), School District of Clayton, Missouri

Sean Doherty

April Grace, Superintendent, Shawnee Public Schools, Oklahoma

April Grace

Kelly Gustafson, Principal, Wexford Elementary School, Pennsylvania

Kelly Gustafson

Joel Hoag, Principal, Freedom Intermediate School, Tennessee

Joel Hoag

Kathy Carroll, Lead Library Media Specialist, South Carolina

Kathy Carroll

Kathryn Roots Lewis, Retired Director of Libraries & Instructional Technology, Oklahoma

Kathryn Roots Lewis

Author General Session

Saturday, October 23 | 8 a.m. – 8:50 a.m.


Kekla Magoon is the author of over a dozen novels and nonfiction books for young readers, including “The Season of Styx Malone,” “The Rock and the River,” and “The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall’s Life, Leadership, and Legacy.” Along with the 2021 Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honored her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens including “X: A Novel,” “How It Went Down,” and “Fire in the Streets,” Magoon has received the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, an NAACP Image Award,and three Coretta Scott King Honors, and she has been long listed for the National Book Award.

Kekla’s forthcoming book, “Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People,” places the Panthers in the proper context of Black American history, from the first arrival of enslaved people to the Black Lives Matter movement. The book invites readers grappling with injustice in the United States to learn from the Panthers’ history and courage and inspires them to take their own place in the ongoing fight for justice.

Closing General Session

Saturday, October 23 | 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Dr. Joe Sanchez and Dr. Jennifer Moore will facilitate an interactive discussion focusing on your key takeaways from the conference and guide you through a contemplative look at where school librarians and school libraries will go in the future. Drs. Sanchez and Moore will challenge attendees to think about how school librarians will continue to adapt to meet the current realities – a century already identified by a shift to mobile computing, a new wave of civil rights movements, global youth culture, social distancing, and remote learning – and why we should care.

Other conference events:

IdeaLab and Conversation Corner


Concurrent Sessions


American Association of School Librarians (AASL) COVID-19 Requirements for Participation

Attendance at and participation in the 2021 AASL National Conference is subject to compliance with AASL and the event facilities’ policies and procedures to implement current CDC, State of Utah, City of Salt Lake City, and Salt Palace Convention Center recommendations and requirements.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AASL is making necessary adjustments and prioritizing participant well-being. We must acknowledge that the situation remains fluid and is subject to change as circumstances dictate. At present, in accordance with guidance from the CDC, together, with the Salt Palace Convention Center and based on current mandates from the State of Utah/Salt Lake City, we are planning for the following:

  • AASL requests that everyone wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. This policy aligns with CDC guidelines meant to maximize protection from the Delta variant.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the venue.
  • One-way traffic flow in high-traffic areas.
  • The Salt Palace Convention Center (CCC) is an accredited GBAC STAR Facility (Global Biorisk Advisory Council).

For more information, visit Health & Wellness Information - 2021 AASL National Conference.

Media Contacts:

Media interested in scheduling interviews with AASL spokespersons may contact Steve Zalusky, communications specialist, American Library Association, 312-280-1546, szalusky@ala.org.