To #AASL11 Minneapolis and Back: Report to Faculty

Thanks for asking about my trip to Minneapolis. Yes, it was FABULOUS!

What did I bring home from the 15th AASL (Annual American Association of School Librarians) Conference? LOTS to share.

These bubble to the top:

We're doing the right thing: 

Those self-reflections that we ask of our students in papers, presentations, and blogs? They're all-important, especially in light of the fast pace of our information- and interruption-rich technological world. This is my main take-away from Nicholas Carr's (The Shallows) introductory keynote speech.

And I was very happy to hear Carr say, "The human brain is malleable throughout our lives". He too struggles with the lure of the Internet and looks for ways to achieve balance in his life.

Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, introductory keynote speaker

Top Must-Have for Our Students:

Teen Health and Wellness: Real Life, Real Answers, the mobile app for 24/7 access by our students. Anytime, anywhere information on their cell phone.


SchoolTube - You can watch, upload, create a channel, enter contests, receive a video of the day, create online student portfolios, and use School Tube as a central repository to archive videos. Also, parents, students, and administrators can use it as a communication tool. The one unique thing about School Tube? Teachers approve uploads.

Videolicious- free video-editing mobile app for the iPhone

spicynodes - a mind-mapping presentation tool, more fun and visually appealing, in my opinion, than Prezi!

Top Resource to Share:

25 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning The YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Asssociation) committee goes through a rigorous selection process every year, to pare the list down to a mere 25. (Lots of heated discussion about what to include.)


I have a list of great books to order for our students, from the sessions "You're Invited: A Feast of New Literature for Teens" and "Outstanding Books for the College Bound".

Dropped in and loved the Storytelling Festival.

Best Conference Upgrades:

The AASL11 mobile app for the conference was awesome - planner, agenda, presenters, exhibits, news and alerts, social media, maps, all in one! No thumbing through and marking pages (although the print version was available).

The back channel was informative and busy: AASL Ning

The Learning Commons spearheaded by @buffyjhamilton gave attendees a space to extend conference conversations and start some of their own. (Yes, the teachers are in the audience too.)

Biggest challenge:

Too many session choices!

Biggest surprise:

The mild, light sweater Minneapolis weather!

Enlightenment (Sort Of):

What does the future hold for school libraries, in light of the coming of ebooks and ereaders? The pre-conference full-day session "Books, e-ink, and Databases, Oh, My! Collection Development in the 21st Century" addressed just that question. 

Here are two cautionary tales:

•Publishers don't have (or necessarily want) a business model for libraries and borrowing books. Their first concern is profit, which translates to a 1/1 purchase.
•Intellectual privacy is a huge issue with ebooks. With Overdrive, for instance, all borrowing records are kept by Amazon. See Librarian in Black's rant (warning: salty language) about how Overdrive and Amazon are manipulating the book borrowing world. [Note: our Hawaii state public library system uses Overdrive.]

It was @dpeterson71 who first noticed that the session "Do We Need Books in K-12 School Libraries?" changed to "What Kinds of Books Do We Need in K-12 School Libraries?" (Good call, I tweeted.) It was interesting to hear Tom Corbett describe Cushing Academy's print-book-free library. Take-away from this session? I liked library service consultant Alison Ernst's advice: "Look at your community. Who are your students? What do they need? These are the questions to ask when deciding to go with print or digital."

I learned a lot from the session "Putting It All Together: The Integration of Print and Digital Resources in the Information Literacy Curriculum of School Libraries". There were several inspiring, ponderable quotes from school library leader Joyce Valenza:

"Books are not our only brand."

"The library should be a destination, not a brochure."

"We librarians have a new job: curation."

"We must teach our students to curate. Three-ring binders are inadequate for students."

(and my favorite) "Curation is about synchronizing community."

On the Horizon:

Two comments made by closing keynote speaker Dr. Mimi Ito, cultural anthrolopologist of technology, stick in my mind:

"We need more examples of how mobile phones can be used in the classroom."

"We must be willing to experiment with technology and report our findings."

New Mexico school librarian Jenny Blaylock asks Dr. Mimi Ito a question

Continuing the Discussion:

It was great to see Hawaii represented so well by esteemed UH professor Dr. Violet Harada (2011 winner of the AASL Distinguished Service Award) and @pattylouis of Aliamanu Elementary. The discussion of their very valuable (and well-attended) session "Empowering Students Through Self-Assessment" continues on a wiki. 

One of the most amazing things about attending this conference was seeing and being inspired by other school librarians. I met new people: not only from the US, but from other countries such as Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Poland. I reconnected with @joycevalenza, @dpeterson71, @mediamems, @janetmadsen, and others. I met school library leaders I had been following and talking with on Twitter, including @gwynethjones, @buffyjhamilton, @librarian_tiff, and @shannonmmiller, and I will continue to learn from them.

Bottom line: 

It's an exciting time to be a school librarian!

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P. S. No I didn't walk down as planned to see Mary Tyler Moore's statue of her tossing her hat in the air, nor did I take the $1.75 Light Rail to the Mall of America (I avoid malls like the plague).