School librarian conference brings 4,000+ to Pittsburgh, Oct. 6-9

Contact: Larra Clark

AASL Media Relations

For Immediate Release

September 22, 2005

School librarian conference brings 4,000+ to Pittsburgh, Oct. 6-9

Technology, reading strategies, collaboration top agenda

(CHICAGO) Tadpoles might not be among the items you expect to find in a school library - unless you're working with Sharon Brubaker at Brader Elementary School in Newark, Del. Staff at this National School Library Media Program of the Year winner uses literature circles, a family reading night and an "outdoor classroom" to engage students and build reading skills. Brubaker is one of 4,000 attendees expected to share experiences and best practices at the American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) 12th National Conference in Pittsburgh, October 6 - 9.

From blogs to frogs, school librarians are working to make sure every student succeeds. "If the classroom is the first stop in the learning experience, the library should be the next destination," said AASL President J. Linda Williams. "School libraries are more important today than ever before."

Since 1965, more than 60 education and library studies have shown that school library media programs staffed by qualified library media specialists have a positive impact on student academic achievement. Statewide studies in 14 different states show that a strong library media program helps students learn more and score higher on standardized achievement tests than their peers in library-impoverished schools.

Information literacy and technology skills are among the conference highlights. Several programs will focus on Internet searching - with Google or in the "hidden Web" - and teaching how to navigate a growing information jungle. Two sessions will highlight the use of blogs in instruction, learning and connecting with teens. And AASL, the National Education Association and other members of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills will share tools and resources to help advocate for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Literacy.

"Our students must be taught the 21st century research skills they need to learn and achieve in school and throughout their lives. There's so much more to school libraries than books!" Williams added.

Books and reading, however, will be center stage at many of the conference programs. According to a 2004 report, the number of 17-year-olds who read daily dropped to 22 percent from 31 percent 20 years ago. Patrick Jones, author of "Connecting Young Adults and Libraries," will lead an all-day preconference October 5 focusing on tips and tools for reaching reluctant readers. He will be joined by public and school librarians, a teen author and a panel of teens. Conference attendees will participate in the first conference-wide discussion group in the One Book, One Conference selection of "Whale Talk" by Chris Crutcher, who will speak October 7. Children's literature consultant Kathleen Baxter and author Michael Dahl will discuss toilets, gladiators, BMX and other topics that engage boys in reading. The importance of audiobooks, multicultural literature and graphic novels also will be discussed.

Actor LeVar Burton, host and co-executive producer of the highly acclaimed PBS series "Reading Rainbow," will keynote the Opening General Session October 6 at 3:30 p.m. in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Burton, who has won two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series, has been quoted as saying he is "most proud of Reading Rainbow's ability to create human beings who are passionate about literature."

National leaders in research data on student achievement will keynote the Closing General Session October 8 at 3 p.m. John Wilson, chair of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, will open the session, and speakers will include: Steven Baule, principal of Zion-Benton Township High School; Mike Eisenberg, faculty of the Information School at the University of Washington; Keith Curry Lance, director of the Library Research Service; and Ross Todd, director of research for the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL). Ferdi Serim, founder of the Online Internet Institute, will moderate.

More than 300 exhibitors will showcase the best new products and services for schools and libraries. The exhibit hall opens October 6 at 5:30 p.m. with a "block party" for all attendees.

To learn more about the conference, visit Press registrations are available in advance by calling Larra Clark at 312-280-5043 or emailing AASL is a division of the American Library Association.