Last year, the American Association of School Librarians launched their 65th Anniversary Giving Campaign: “It’s in Our Hands: Celebrate the Past, Transform the Future.”
There are soooo many reasons to belong to the only national association dedicated to school librarians. There are also many reasons to participate as an active member who volunteers for committee service. Additionally, at this time in the history of our organization, there are reasons to accept the invitation to support the 65th anniversary giving campaign.
In their chapter entitled “Leadership and Your Professional School Library Association,” Connie Williams and Blanche Woolls offer nine reasons for joining professional organizations:
- Networking locally that begins with fellow librarians;
- Networking state-wide opens the door to leadership opportunities;
- Networking nationally allows opportunities to meet others from far afield;
- Improving your communication skills on an online listserv or other online communications group;
- Develops a greater number of professional friendships and a collegiality that builds year after year.
- Become a more active member by serving on a committee;
- Attend conferences to hear outstanding speakers and attend exciting and uplifting sessions and workshops;
- Provide a dais for members to tell smaller groups the good things that are going on in their schools and school libraries;
- Lobbying for school libraries to local, state, and national government officials (157-158).
All of these reasons may be important for individual school librarians at various points in their careers. At this time of year when school librarians and their advocates are often called into action, the importance of improving one’s communication skills cannot be undervalued. As Hilda Weisburg notes: “One of the unexpected benefits of serving at the state, and even more so on the national level, is what occurs to your vocabulary. You develop a fluency in talking about the value of school librarians and what a strong school library program brings to students, teachers, and the educational community as a whole” (143).
Our advocacy not only requires an articulate voice but collaboration with other library stakeholders as well. Elaborating on Forbes blogger Joe Folkman’s The Six Secrets of Successfully Assertive Leaders, Susan D. Ballard and Blanche Woolls wrote this in their recent Knowledge Quest Blog post Leadership–Assert Yourself! “Look for opportunities to collaborate as that is yet another area in which all school librarians need to step up their game in order to extend their participation in and influence on teaching and learning.”
As a donor to AASL’s 65th Anniversary Campaign, I was invited to give a testimonial.
“AASL has given me a ‘home’ for my passions: learning, literacy, literature, and libraries. I have never hesitated to re-up my membership—even when times were lean. AASL’s professional development opportunities have been worth every dime and every minute I have invested. Through participation, I experienced the benefits of membership. I have made lifelong friends. I have found guidance and support for leading through the library programs in the school communities I served. Along with fellow AASL members who understood my library life, I was able to develop as an educator. Together, we gave back to the Association. Happy 65th Anniversary, AASL! Thank you for being there for me, the librarians who came before me, and those who will follow.”
School Library Month is an optimum time to consider the importance of membership and participation in our national association. Link to the AASL 65th Anniversary page and make a donation to support AASL.
And proudly wear your AASL 65th Anniversary pin and Twibbon.
Ballard, Susan D., and Blanche Woolls. “Leadership — Assert Yourself!” Knowledge Quest Blog. 18 Apr. 2017, http://knowledgequest.aasl.org/leadership-assert-yourself/.
Weisburg, Hilda K. Leading for School Librarians: There Is No Other Option. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2017.
Williams, Connie, and Blanche Woolls. “Leadership and Your Professional School Library Association.” The Many Faces of School Library Leadership, 2nd ed., edited by Sharon Coatney and Violet H. Harada, Libraries Unlimited, 2017, pp. 157-169.
Image Credit: Twibbon provided by AASL