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President's Message PDF Print E-mail
Valerie Diggs

A new year is upon us, but I really cannot say that it "crept" up on us. Rather, it seems to have come in a flash, a blur, and with an element of surprise. That it is now 2012 seems almost incredible to me, and with that, the "21st-century" skills movement becomes even more urgent than ever. We certainly cannot say we are preparing for the Twenty-First Century. It is here now. Not only is it here, but we are well past the beginning stages, moving quickly into the middle part of the century. What does this passing of years mean for school librarians?

I am relatively sure that no one has a crystal ball for what the future holds for school libraries, school librarians, and school library programs. We are experiencing the continued struggle for budget dollars and positions in schools. Justifying what we do and how we support student learning is more crucial today than it ever was. Therein lies the key, in that simple word "justify". How does one go about justifying the profession of school librarianship? Through circulation counts? Class visits? Teacher/School Librarian collaborative projects and lessons? It has to be all of these, and more. School libraries in 2012 need to become part of the social and cultural fabric of the school. Think about dismantling some of the dated ideas around school libraries. Invite students in to simply be in a safe place, lounge in comfortable seating, and explore their creativity through art and music. Host events, invite parents, have food and drink, and downplay rules and regulations. Students will begin to use the space more, and turn to you as a respected and valued teacher, adult, and mentor. Through all of this, the 21st century skills we value so highly will become valued by our students, and made a natural part of their learning experiences. 

Staying current in our profession is crucial to all of the above. Most of us are a department of one, sometimes in a school, and more often than not these days, in an entire district. Reaching out for professional development and new ideas can be difficult in isolation. Library journals and periodicals keep us current, as do online webinars, library-focused blogs, and RSS feeds. However, many of us might agree that often the best professional development opportunities happen face-to-face. Over the past six years, I have been involved with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) at the national level, attending both of the American Library Association  (ALA), Midwinter Meeting in January and the Annual Conference in June. I have been privileged to also attend AASL's National Conference every other year in October, as well as School Library Journal's Leadership Summits each fall. These experiences have lifted my professional experiences to soaring heights. Seeing famous speakers, authors, even Barack Obama before he was even a glimmer on the presidential landscape, was personally and professionally uplifting. Sitting in on conference sessions where the latest developments in our profession were discussed, and meeting people from all parts of our country were experiences that I will never forget.

Why am I sharing these experiences? Simply because I would like you to have the same. MSLA's annual conference, "Literacies and Our Future," will surely offer you the chance to hear and interact with the not only school library greats, but with your counterparts across New England. Come to hear the best of the best in our profession. Sunday features Ross Todd, Tim Green, Alan November, and Susan Ballard, our very own New Englander poised to take the helm of AASL in June. On Monday, come to hear Joyce Valenza, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Christopher Harris, Buffy Hamilton, Michelle Luhtala, and many others. Attend the closing session on the future of school libraries with many of these same speakers.

PLEASE mark March 4 and 5 as an opportunity of a lifetime. Come for both days and enjoy the newly-renovated Hyannis Resort and Conference Center. Register online at

You owe this to yourself, your students, your teachers, and your administrators. Return to your school rejuvenated and ready to take on any challenge 2012 will pose. See you all there! 

With wishes for a productive, positive and learning-filled 2012.

Valerie Diggs
MSLA President

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 January 2012 )

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