President’s Vision and Welcome for 2019

Written by Jennifer Sharp

Kick off 2019 with TASL!

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all enjoyed some much-needed time away from work to rest, read, and spend time with family and friends.

Personally and professionally, I always enjoy the opportunity for a fresh start, so I love this time of year! I try to spend time at the start of each new year setting goals for myself and making a plan – and I find that, as the year progresses, I can look back on those goals and see where I’ve progressed and where I need to renew my focus.

In that spirit, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to planning goals for my term as TASL’s President. My work will be guided by TASL’s Long Range Plan, which was carefully crafted by our 2018 Past-President, Misti Jenkins, and her committee. Thanks to her leadership and their hard work, we have some very worthy goals and associated action steps on which to focus.

In the weeks and months leading up to my Presidency, I’ve had many conversations with TASL members about things that they want to see happen in our profession and our organization. I’ve also had the opportunity to think about my own ideas. From this feedback and the guidance of our Long Range Plan, I’ve decided that my primary areas of focus this year will be membership development and advocacy.

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My plans for membership development are to continue developing and promoting TASL as the cornerstone of support, professional development, and networking for school librarians in our state. Our 2019 Executive Board will work to develop strategies for increasing the return on investment for our membership, and ensure that all members (and potential members) have a voice and a seat at the table. To me, this focus has two prongs: recruitment (finding school librarians who aren’t members and determining what might motivate them to join, and encouraging school librarians new to the field or state to join) and retention (ensuring that we provide a positive experience for our existing members). I’m excited to partner with our returning Membership Chair, Martha Harris, in these efforts – and I’m so grateful for all of the work she’s already done on this front in 2018.

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This year, my work on advocacy will focus on identifying ways that our organization can be a part of the national conversation around school librarianship, and empowering our members to advocate for themselves – from the building level to the national level. I truly believe we are at a critical moment in our profession – school libraries are often underfunded, understaffed, and undervalued. I believe we all can play a role in turning the tide. We’ve already made great strides in this arena – Lindsey Kimery, who will return as our Advocacy Chair, spent last year meeting with legislators and gubernatorial candidates, and we have a fantastic task force that is working toward our goal of getting a state-level coordinator for school librarians at the Tennessee Department of Education. Under Lindsey’s leadership, I know we will continue to make great strides in terms of advocacy in the coming year.

I am so excited to see what 2019 brings for our organization and for school librarianship as a whole. I hope you’ll feel free to reach out to me directly with any ideas, concerns, or questions! My (metaphorical) door is always open to each and every one of you. I’m humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve TASL this year as your President!

Jennifer Sharp is a school librarian at John Overton High School in Nashville, TN and the 2019 President of TASL. She also serves on the AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning Committee and the Volunteer State Book Award Nominating Committee. You can find her on Twitter: @JenniferSharpTN.
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