My God, what time is it?I set the alarm for 5:30 am so I’d have plenty of time to get ready and catch the 7 am shuttle to the Convention Center and walk to the Sheraton. My body is really still on eastern time so it must have thought I had gone totally off my rocker, waking up at the equivalent of 3:30 am and getting dressed. AND was I sore!!! I have isolated the specific muscle involved with walking uphill and it is protesting. I managed to do get ready despite walking like a cowboy and yelping every now and again, and was actually pretty awake, but I think it was just adrenaline. The shuttle came right on the dot of 7 am and chit-chatted with the driver (shuttle drivers are great sources of information) to the convention center. A short walk to the Sheraton and I was at the registration desk by 7:12. I never mind getting somewhere early, but I didn’t have long to wait until Nancy Everhart arrived a little early and pleased to see me there. We were joined by the other members of the Project LEAD advisory board – including none other than Gail Dickinson (whose book on the NBCT process I own) and Debbie Abilock, editor of Knowledge Quest! I kept casting surreptitious looks at these bigwigs of the library world and just soaked in as much as I could. We had a nice breakfast buffet at the Sheraton restaurant and Eliza Dressing (also part of the Florida State University faculty like Nancy) ran a tight meeting that was friendly but productive – my favorite kind of meeting. When the meeting come to the agenda item on marketing, I was able to share my ISS survey information and talk about how private schools are ignorant of the value of the NBCT process as professional development for their faculty. This was well received and I mentioned I’d be happy to help in any way I could to promote the idea. I did bring up the survey data that indicated some obstacles in terms of state certification requirements, etc. But everyone thought it was worth thinking about.
I had mentioned in an off-hand way how I was still so confused about the structure of ALA and even of the AASL division, and Ann Pipkin, from the Alabama School for the Arts, a charter school, invited me to tag along with her to the Red Lion hotel where the AASL Affiliate Assembly was going to take place. I had some vague understanding of the idea of the Affiliate Assembly – state organizations nominate people to be the AASL representative from each state and then regions nominate the representatives from their region (mine is the Mid-Atlantic region) to be the directors of the regions. Or at least I think that’s what the deal is. And the AASL president (who was there) oversees them and listens to the Affiliate Assembly’s recommendations to the board. But it turns out the assembly does lots of work on things called “mega issues” which are, as you might imagine, a really big issue.
Ann was explaining some of this to me, when we entered the room and who spots me, but Laura Pearle, fellow ISS librarian who as also decided to come to Affiliate in order to hear the issues. She has often felt that ISS librarians are at a disadvantage when it comes to this area of AASL governance as most independent school librarians do not belong to their state organization since there isn’t a lot of independent school relevance. This can unfortunately be true of state school librarian associations also. As a result, we cannot be elected to Affiliate or other governance roles at the state level. Since Laura is from New York, I went with her to Region III, our region, and actually sat next to my very wonderful state representative from Pennsylvania. It’s nice that librarians are very open to other people coming to these kinds of events – you never, ever get a “who the hell are you?” look, instead people smile and welcome your input.
The mega issue for today was “how can AASL increase membership?” and I though the facilitator was excellent. He did a nice job of timing the discussion periods and gradually bringing the group through the process and keeping us focused on talking about larger issues and leaving recommendations to the board. This issue highlighted some very good points for people – namely concerns about effective communication in AASL, user-friendliness of the website, a lack of clear understanding about our relevance to prospective members (although everyone agreed of the organizations value and importance), etc. Here I had planned on lurking in this meeting (my usual modus operandi) but of course, it’s impossible for me to keep my mouth shut and so I ended up making some suggestions (hey, they gave me a microphone, you know I can’t resist that) about partnerships with outside organizations that also appeal to school librarians. It was very energizing to see this kind of process (I’m a sucker for process) and everyone had such great insight to give. It was hard to not realize that Laura and I were the youngest people in the room (by a significant number of years) and that at the same time, we were representing a significant percentage of librarians that belonged to the organization.
The candidates for various positions at AASL spoke for an hour or so after the meeting and I have to say that all of these people were intelligent, earnest, sincere people with excellent qualifications and…really none of them were what I would call stellar public speakers. It’s so sad that we don’t have better speakers for our profession (our president was good when she spoke) – aren’t we all teachers? Maybe people are more nervous in front of their peers than in front of kids. I’m going to go with that theory.
The candidates done, I suddenly realized that my body was crashing with the weird time difference and I needed to eat lunch and get back to my hotel room before I become unconscious. I caught the shuttle back to the hotel and decided to actually sit in the Earth and Ocean restaurant which produced the amazing room service I’ve had (for a cheaper price when it doesn’t come to the room). I had the three cheese grilled cheese again and it was so satisfying at 1 pm (or my body was just so screwed up) that I didn’t need to eat again all night! I had a nice nap and called Ethan to see how his Sunday was. After hearing all about his day and telling him about mine, I ordered the movie, Little Miss Sunshine (so funny and poignant, I hope it wins an Oscar), and fell asleep.