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« International School Library Day | Main | Librarian's Blues »

I'll miss you at AASL

The AASL Conference next week will be the first one I have missed since 1994. I am having separation anxiety as I feel the excitement of those of you who will be heading off to Reno. From what I see it looks like a great program and some terrific sessions.

I made a deliberate decision not to attend this year. For the second conference in a row, planners have not allowed members to submit workshop proposals. For a volunteer organization, this is wrong, and I will not attend any AASL conferences until this policy is changed. Yes, I have voiced this complaint to AASL conference planners and the AASL leadership.

The primary problem, beyond displaying a lack of confidence in the rank and file that they have something of value to present in a workshop setting, is that the workshop choices don't give new voices, fresh experiences and different viewpoints an opportunity to heard. God bless the chosen workshoppers, all high quality people who have a lot to offer, but let's face it, none are exactly spring chickens, if you know what I mean. (Were I giving a workshop, I'd have been an oldie as well.)

I suspect that I am probably the only person bothered by this. And let me be clear - I'm not mad about not doing a workshop - I'm mad about not being given the chance to even be rejected. There is a big difference.

expo07graphic.jpgJust so you won't worry too much about me, do know I'll be working this Friday while AASL is in session with librarians in the Plano, TX area at their Library Expo gathering.

Yee, haw! Looking forward to it.

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Reader Comments (9)

Doug, boycotting the AASL Conference until they allow the membership to contribute is great! I'm supportive of your decision (like I matter! chuckle)!

I'm just disappointed you'll be in Texas and I won't get to meet you!

Take care,

October 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel Guhlin


I was stunned by your post about AASL members not being allowed to submit workshop proposals. I had no idea! I find it hard to believe that some of the chosen workshop presenters are not members of AASL. Violet Harada? Carol Simpson? In looking through the pre-conference workshops, I did notice that an overwhelming majority of presenters are university professors. If I were training future school librarians, I would certainly want to set a standard by belonging to AASL, our national organization.

So the message from AASL is clear: We want you to come to AASL, but you're too stupid (lowly, young, unrecognized, tired, or whatever) to present a workshop. We'll find our "experts" elsewhere.

When, and how, did AASL come to such a conclusion? I'm having trouble finding any defensible reasons. Perhaps someone else can help me understand.

You'll be missed, Doug.


October 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMary J. Johnson

Hi Mary,

I didn't mean to leave the impression that the workshop presenters aren't members of AASL. I am sure most of them are. The opportunity for ANY member of AASL to submit a proposal was what was not offered.

All the best,


October 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson


I agree with your distress. TLA (The Texas Library conference) doesn't really allow members to suggest proposals either. While I dearly love the conference, I find it frustrating that there aren't enough web 2.0 types of workshops, and that it is hard to get an inroad there in terms of presenting.

I am very envious of those going to AASL, especially given that Dan Pink will be there! I'm going to be happily ensconced at Internet Librarian--maybe you should come there next year, to beautiful Monterey!

October 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn Foote

Hi Carolyn,

Hmmmm, Monterey sounds good. Would I have to actually attend the conference?

After all the innovation at NECC this year, I worry that AASL, as you say, isn't keeping up. And again, where are our young, innovative workshop presenters?

I'd have liked to have seen Daniel Pink as well. I like to think that I was the one who introduced him to the school library world back in August of 2005!

Thanks for writing in,


October 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Not that I was going ... although the chance to see Daniel Pink is tempting ... we here in Reno are saddened by your absence. : (


October 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Crosby

You owe your readers a clarification: your complaint is about the PRE-CONFERENCE programs: those 1/2 or full-day workshops that require additional registration fees and are held *before* the regular conference starts.

As you well know, the majority of the concurrent session presenters *are* AASL members and building-level practitioners. These programs are offered during the regular conference schedule and do not require any additional registration fees.

If the content of these conference programs do not always reflect the most current issues in the field, it is because AASL insists that all program proposals must:
1. be submitted a full year in advance (which means that you'd have to be prescient about techno-advances that haven't happened yet) and
2. demonstrate direct application to the Info Lit Standards (which means that anything on library management or professional survival strategies is considered irrelevant).
I certainly agree with you that it's time for AASL to change the conference proposal process for ALL presentations, and would be happy to work with you to develop some alternative strategies to suggest to TPTB at AASL.

October 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAlice Yucht

Hi Alice,

Thank you for clarifying for the readers. Yes, indeed, members can submit concurrent session proposals. I did and had one accepted for this conference.


October 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

This is a good example of how blogging CAN change things. I think that much like I leave a certain percentage of my curriculum open for innovative technologies (at least 20-30%) there needs to be a placeholder for innovative technologies. Otherwise, all conferences doom themselves to be yesterday's news and dankly irrelevant.

October 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterVicki Davis

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