I returned home from my first AASL (American Association of School Librarians) convention a week ago. Since then I’ve been trying to come up with words to express the experience that I had there, but I think it is past time to worry about finding the right words and just write some.
If I had only one sentence, I would say “AASL was amazing.”
If I had two sentences, I would say “Meeting people at AASL that I’ve interacted with online on Twitter all year long was unbelievable. Getting resources to take back to school, meeting wonderful authors, and visiting bookstores was fantastic.”
In fact, when people at school asked how it was, I could only foolishly grin and say great. Some nigh incomprehensible babbling may have taken place after that about what I saw, who I met, what I want to try, etc. I haven’t had time yet to explore everything in the notes I took, but I’ve started sharing some of the resources already. I placed some free books in teacher hands and read some of the galleys to see what books need to go into my library when they are published (I feel the need to mention again When Blue Met Egg)
In less than two months, I’ll have been a school librarian for a year (How has it been almost a year? Is there a DeLorean steering things?). Jumping in midschool year was a ride. I’m thankful to the two other school librarians in my district for answering questions and helping me with issues as they come along. The online network I’ve discovered of librarians and twitter has been invaluable in terms of inspiration. I see so many good ideas for lessons, displays, online resources and books that I try to adapt for my situation. That inspiration is so important, and I don’t know if there is a way to say thank you enough for it.
What does being thankful for twitter have to do with the AASL convention? Seeing people I’ve learned from online in real life felt like being surrounded by celebrities (or as several people commented ‘Twitter Live’). Actually, celebrities is the wrong word. It felt like being surrounded by library superheroes (and yes, I’ve used that term to describe these librarians aloud).
I can be dreadfully shy, so I was a bit apprehensive about heading up to Minneapolis by myself. How thrilled I was to meet LibLaura5 right before the Dinner with a Local Librarian event that first night. Laura was great and made things a lot less daunting because she was a familiar face. I loved talking books, wandering around Minneapolis and attending the author brunch with her. She’s one of my friends in Nonfiction Navigators, a group I started on Goodreads to encourage the reading of more children’s nonfiction because it’s an area I need to read more. I also met Mr. Schu. If you are in any way involved in children’s literature or libraries, you need to follow his blog and twitter now because he is so dedicated to sharing books with children. Both Laura and Mr. Schu make me a better librarian.
Most of the sessions I went to at the conference were incredible and applicable. I especially appreciated the one on web safety because that is something I started with my fourth grade students this year. I also found a number of excellent resources at a session by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson with their resources at Eduscapes.
One of the best things was also a Saturday afternoon immersed in bookstores, authors and generosity that involved an unexpected detour through part of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. If there’s a spot to get lost, that was a fun one. Once I got to Birchbark books, it was an amazing time to listen to Anne Ursu read from Breadcrumbs after reading friends praise her book all summer. There was a fantastic chance to discuss with a number of authors, including Kelly Barnhill. Then it was off to Wild Rumpus where we met up with Tom Angleberger. If you are ever in Minneapolis, I recommend going to Wild Rumpus to pick up some children’s and young adult books. I’ve photos of it to share another time.
One thing that would have helped my navigating around the conference would have been a smart phone. My ipod touch came in handy, but wasn’t very useful when lost in the city or when I would lose connection in the exhibit hall and my hotel. I will plan better for AASL ’13.