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Elect to Lead – OASL/WLMA Conference 2008

Anne Dame

Imagine school librarians from all over Oregon and Washington states meeting together to talk about what is near and dear to their hearts. This is what happened at the OASL (Oregon Association of School Librarians)/WLMA (Washington Library Media Association) conference in October of last year. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the conference as a volunteer. While I missed some of the sessions due to the volunteering, the connections made while I was there were invaluable.

One of the highlights of the conference was the Spokane Moms. They are three remarkable women who believe so strongly in the need for advocacy for school librarians that they were able to raise enough support and awareness to keep funding for school librarians throughout Washington state. They work with the “Fund our Future Washington” initiative. It cannot be said strongly enough how important it is for each of us to let our representatives in Congress know our priorities in regards to libraries, librarians and funding in those areas.

Several authors of note were also at the conference. One renowned person was Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes and Teacher Man. I was unable to hear him speak and unfortunately I heard rumors that it was not as interesting as would be expected. However, I did hear John Green, author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns. Green is humorous and engaging. His YA books are thought-provoking and well-written. Green talked about the relevance of librarians to an author’s success. He purports that authors would not ever make it without librarians to recommend their books. As evidence, he read from his fan letters stating that the kid read his book(s) because their librarian suggested it. Green is a strong youth advocate and tackles issues such as drinking, suicide, and self-esteem.

Besides the keynote and featured meal-time speakers, there was an abundance of sessions to choose to attend. From using Photostory 3, to creating displays, to incorporating curriculum standards into library practice, to grant writing, there was something for everyone. At times it felt like there were too many choices; I wish I could have cloned myself to be able to attend additional sessions. Luckily, there were seven of us from the iSchool in attendance so we split up and shared notes afterwards.

It is not every year that OASL and WLMA team up, so it was a privilege to attend this special conference. However, both OASL and WLMA hold annual individual conferences. They are worth checking out as a source of information and new ideas, but also as a way to network and meet others with similar interests and concerns. The excitement of so many people vitally interested in the well-being of school libraries was palpable. I’m so very glad that I went.

January 10, 2009
Vol. XIII Issue 2

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