Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Highlights from SSL 2016

There is something to be said for spending time with others who share your interests and passions.  This is why I can't think of a better way to spend my time than with school librarians from across New York State.  The SSL (Section of School Librarians) statewide conference was held from May 5th through 7th in Albany, NY.  The conference planning committee did an outstanding job providing fantastic professional development opportunities throughout the duration of the conference.

Although it would be impossible to encapsulate all of the awesomeness present during SSL 2016, I will do my best to discuss some of the highlights.

Rubbing Elbows with Authors
It should come as no surprise that authors are the celebrities of the library world!  There was no shortage of amazing authors at the conference.  Although I did not get a chance to see everyone, I was delighted to hear speeches from Seymour Simon (who visited Pioneer this year!), Patricia McCormick, Holly Black, and Joseph Bruchac.  I had the extra special opportunity to chat with Michael Arndt as well!  Each of these authors shared important messages about the powers of reading and storytelling.   Not only do books have the power to entertain and inspire, but books can also alert people to important issues and problems within society.  Each of the authors present at SSL have made the world a better place through their work.

So excited to get an autographed copy of Sold by Patricia McCormick.

Mrs. Pierce and I got to see Seymour Simon, an author who visited Pioneer in March!

Friends from Near and Far
Attending conferences are also another great way to stay connected with other librarians.  Through attending professional development sessions, you can get inspired by the positive work being done by others in the library profession.

I was very excited for the Univerity at Buffalo meetup on Friday evening.  It was wonderful to get to see the current UB graduate students who are well on their way to becoming school librarians.  It is always great when dynamic, caring people enter the school library profession!

Stacey Rattner (the LEAPING librarian!) is one of the most inspirational librarians I have had the pleasure of meeting.  She has an unparalleled ability to get children excited about authors and reading.  I am always amazed when I hear about her author visits, award celebrations, and overall awesome things going on at her school's library.  You can check out Stacey's blog here.

SSL 2016 would not have been complete without a LEAP with Stacey Rattner.

Stacey and I also share a deep respect for the school librarians in Texas.  We were able to meet some Texas librarians during the AASL Conference in 2015.  Attending a Texas Library Association conference is definitely on our professional bucket list.  We were sure to represent Texas at SSL by donating a Texas-themed basket to the Knickerbocker Raffle.  Our friend, librarian Kirsten Murphy from Texas, and Texas authors Nikki Loftin and Emma Virjan donated authentic Texas items to the basket!  Although we do not know the winner of the basket, we hope that the winner appreciates Texas as much as we do!

All of the great goodies gathered by our Texas librarian/author friends.

The keynote speaker for SSL 2016 was none other than Mr. John Schumacher, more commonly referred to as Mr. Schu.  Mr. Schu now serves as Scholastic's Ambassador for School Libraries.  To say that Mr. Schu is passionate about reading would be a complete understatement.  His presentation was inspirational, engaging, humorous, and made me reflect on all of the reasons why I wanted to be a librarian in the first place.  After his keynote speech, I felt re-energized and willing to tackle any library challenge!  Most importantly, it made me want to continue with the sacred duty of sharing stories with children.

Mrs. Pierce and I were also lucky enough to be able to chat with Mr. Schu!  It was nice to hear that he teaches graduate library classes, just like me.  I'm sure that Mr. Schu's classes are inspirational to those entering the library field.

Mrs. Pierce meets "Mr. Schu!"

Ideas to Take Back to the Library
At the core of my reasons for enjoying conferences is that I always come back with new ideas to try at the Pioneer Middle School library.  Here are some of the ideas I gathered that may turn into big plans:
  • Leslie Preddy, the President of AASL attended the conference!  I was able to hear her speak at the SSL board meeting prior to the start of the conference.  It was wonderful to hear national-level library updates.  Ms. Preddy shared great advocacy ideas, too.
  • Annarose Foley, a librarian at Boynton Middle School in Ithaca, NY, shared how she has "genre-fied" her library without reshelving the books.  
  • Bridget Crossman and Sarah Olsen, librarians from the Lake George School District, shared how to improve your library through the inquiry process.  In addition to some great tips, they also shared how tech tools such as Smore, Google Hangouts, Nearpod, and Padlet can be used in the library setting.  This session challenged me to find new ways to use technology we already have at Pioneer!

Mr. Schu alerted us to the fact that May is officially Thank-O-Rama month.  I will be taking time this month to thank people for being awesome!  I'll begin by thanking the great folks who hosted the 2016 SSL Conference.  THANK YOU! 

Next year's SSL Conference will take place in Buffalo.  SLAWNY, our local affiliate of NYLA/SSL, is looking forward to welcoming our library friends to our area!

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