AASL 13th National Conference plots course for the future of school libraries

Contact: Macey Morales

AASL Media Relations

312-280- 4393

For Immediate Release

October 29,2007

AASL 13th National Conference plots course for the

future of U.S. school libraries

RENO, NEV. – Omar Wasow, co-founder of BlackPlanet.com and on-air technology analyst, brought to a close the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) 13th National Conference in Reno, Nev. More than 3,790 librarians, exhibitors and guests gathered at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center from October 24 to 28 to discuss the challenges that face U.S. school libraries.

“School libraries are changing and dynamic places,” said AASL President Sara Kelly Johns. “As students are turning to more technology driven methods of learning, the need to have highly trained library media specialists in every school continues to increase. Reno has provided us with a national platform to strengthen our abilities to serve the 21st Century learner. ”

The conference featured three full-day and five half-day preconference workshops, several school and educational tours, more than 100 educational sessions, author events and more than 200 exhibiting companies.

The conference began with a series of preconferences that addressed new technologies and best practices, in addition to a variety of tours that showcased examples of excellence in a wide range of Reno and surrounding area school library media programs.

Best selling author Dan Pink served as the keynote speaker for the conference’s Opening General Session. Pink, an expert on innovation, competition, and the changing world of work, encouraged conference attendees to examine the spaces in their schools. “We need to prepare our children for the future not the past,” stated Pink. “Improving a school’s physical environment can increase test scores as much as 11 percent according to a study by Georgetown University.”

Also during the General Session, AASL president Sara Kelly Johns unveiled the highly awaited “Standards for the 21st – Century Learner.” The standards identify the skills, dispositions, responsibilities and strategies learners will need to survive and thrive in the future, she said.

"AASL hopes that the standards will provide a foundation for a strong library media program in every school,” said Johns. “They will serve as a guide so that our students can research expertly, think critically, problem-solve well, read enthusiastically and use information ethically."

Linda Williams, chair of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Task Force, lead a conversation on AASL’s efforts to include language that supports school library media specialists in the legislation. The session, “No Child Left Behind Reauthorization: Enhancing Library Media Specialist Role in School Achievement,” reviewed advocacy efforts made by AASL and The American Library Association’s Washington Office to ensure that the legislation support efforts to require every district to employ at least one highly qualified school library media specialist.

A variety of sessions focused on technology. Programs like “Gadgetpalooza” and “Podcasting!!! What is it GOOD for?” analyzed audio and video podcasting as well as hi-tech gadgets that best support student achievement.

Omar Wasow, co-founder of BlackPlanet.com and on-air technology analyst, served as the keynote speaker for the conference’s Closing Session. Under Wasow’s leadership, BlackPlanet.com became the leading site for African Americans, reaching over three million people a month. Wasow’s work on a variety of social issues, including education, has paved the way for a fellowship in the Rockefeller Foundation’s Next Generation Leadership program.

Other award-winning author events included Wendelin Van Draanen, author of the “Sammy Keyes Mysteries”; David Lubar, “Hidden Talents”; Julie Ann Peters, “Luna”; Marilyn Reynolds, “Detour for Emmy”; Laura McGee Kvasnosky, “Zelda and Ivy”; and Kathleen Duey, “The Unicorn’s Secret” series.

The Closing Night Gala brought more than 1,000 attendees to Reno’s Automobile Museum, giving conference goers access to America’s most prestigious automobile collection. More than 200 exceptional automobiles in period street settings were on display including Lana Turner’s 1941 Chrysler, Elvis Presley’s 1973 Cadillac Eldorado, James Dean’s 1949 Mercury and many others.

The American Association of School Librarians,
www.aasl.org, a division of the American LibraryAssociation (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library media services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library media field.