Dawn Shirk selected as 2024 AASL Emerging Leader

For Immediate Release
Tue, 01/09/2024


Stephanie Book

Manager, Marketing & Non-serial Publications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)

(312) 280-4389


CHICAGO – Dawn Shirk has been selected as one of two participants sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) in the American Library Association’s (ALA) 2024 Emerging Leaders program. The Emerging Leaders program enables library workers from across the country to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity. Shirk and Mia Gittlen will join 48 of their peers as the program kicks off during ALA’s LibLearnX event in Baltimore, MD.

Shirk, of Greensboro, North Carolina, earned a Master of Information and Library Science from the University of North Carolina Greensboro in 2022. She received a Post-Master of Education in School Administration from UNC Greensboro (2016) following a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (1993) and a Bachelor of Arts in English (1989) from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Shirk also holds NC teaching certifications in English/Language Arts 6-12, English as a Second Language K-12, and School Administration, while currently pursuing a certification in NC for school library media coordinator.

Shirk is in her third year as a Library Media Specialist at Guilford County Schools in Greensboro. She transitioned to school libraries from a 29-year career teaching English as a second language in schools across North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Virginia.

Shirk is proud of the work she has done in her first two years to transform her school library into a vibrant, active part of the Guilford County Schools learning community. When she arrived, the school library was underutilized. Shirk was able to immediately improve the curb appeal of her library and apply concepts and trends in library design, purpose, and function that she was exposed to in graduate school. With a strong focus on advocacy, Shirk confidently built relationships with other educators and developed a reputation for flexibility and creativity, resulting in educators now seeking her out to find ways to collaborate.

“While I am beginning to take on some leadership responsibilities in my job, I would like the opportunity to work with others, both in the field of school librarianship and the many other library related practices. I am hoping to broaden my experience and the lens through which I understand the role of the librarian, so that I can find different ways to serve and create opportunities for patrons,” said Shirk. “In addition, I am interested in being involved with the ALA, building friendships and finding ways to be an active part of the larger professional community.”

Following the kickoff session, the Emerging Leaders will collaborate with their peers in an online learning and networking environment. Their work will culminate with a poster session during the 2024 ALA Annual Conference in San Diego, CA. With its sponsorship of Shirk and Gittlen, AASL will defray the cost of attending both LibLearnX and the 2024 ALA Annual Conference.

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