Welcome Back and Summer 2019 Recap

Written by Jennifer Sharp

Happy August, everyone!

While I know many of us aren’t truly “off” during the summer, I hope you all have enjoyed some opportunities to relax, read, and spend time with family and friends over the past few months! Now that August has arrived, many of us are turning our thoughts to the new school year. I want to welcome everyone back to school – but first, I’d love to share with you some highlights from TASL’s Summer 2019! It has been a busy, productive, and exciting summer full of professional development, advocacy efforts, and planning for the future.

In early June, we had two fantastic days of professional development at Summer Road Trip East and West! If you weren’t able to join us this year, we hope you’ll make plans to attend next year. It’s a great way to learn from colleagues and get some professional development hours. Grab a friend (or two!) and make a road trip out of it!

Summer Road Trip
Andrea Zielke presents the latest news from the Tennessee Electronic Library at our Summer Road Trip East in Friendsville, TN.


Summer Road Trip
Member Julie Caudle presents at Summer Road Trip West in Jackson, TN.

At the end of June, Vicki Winstead (TASL President-Elect/Conference Chair) and I headed off to Washington, D.C. to represent TASL at ALA’s Annual Conference. While we were there, we saw quite a few school librarians from Tennessee enjoying all the sights and sounds! Here are some of my personal highlights:

From L to R: Beloved author Jason Reynolds speaks at the Opening General Session of ALA Annual Conference 2019; snapshot of the Washington Monument at night; getting a book signed in the exhibit hall by author Kekla Magoon.

AASL Region 4 delegates at an Affiliate Assembly meeting.
I had the opportunity to serve on the AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning committee this year, and even got to present the winning apps at ALA alongside other committee members! It was a little nerve-wracking to present at such a big conference for the first time – but it was a great experience.

L to R: Vicki Winstead (left) and I before the opening session; me living my best life at the Library of Congress; …also me living my best life at the Library of Congress.

After returning from ALA, we had a few days of rest, and then it was back to work! Our Advocacy Chair, Lindsey Kimery, arranged meetings with the TN Department of Education and members of the TN state legislature to discuss the need for a State Coordinator of School Libraries in Tennessee. We are making great strides toward achieving this goal, thanks to the hard work of the TASL State Coordinator Task Force, led by Lindsey Kimery.

Vicki Winstead and her team have also been hard at work this summer finalizing details for TASL’s Annual Conference, coming up September 29 – October 1, 2019! It’s going to be a fantastic event, filled with sessions and signings from your favorite authors and speakers, breakout sessions from TASL members, and plenty of opportunities to network and mingle with your colleagues from across the state. The full schedule is now available – go check it out, and don’t forget to register before August 31st to take advantage of regular registration rates.  I’m so excited to see everyone there!


Looking ahead…

As we start to plan for the upcoming school year, I hope you’ll take some time to think about what TASL can do for you. Do you need professional development around a certain topic? Are you looking for a way to get more involved? Would you like the support of a mentor, or to serve as a mentor to new librarians in your area? TASL wants to support you and stand alongside you in your professional endeavors.

Earlier this year, we asked our TASL board members to meet for a board retreat so that we could spend time together reflecting on our strengths, weaknesses, and goals as an organization and making plans to bring those goals to fruition. One of the first things we discussed was what we thought the ideal professional organization for school librarians should be. 

During that conversation, we all agreed that TASL should:

  • Provide resources to its members to meet their needs
  • Provide quality professional development opportunities
  • Support and lead advocacy efforts
  • Provide members with opportunities for leadership
  • Provide recognition for members doing great things
  • Provide a forum for networking with colleagues
  • Be responsive and supportive of its members’ needs

With these ideas in mind, I hope you’ll feel free to contact me if there are ways that TASL can better serve you or our membership as a whole. We are constantly striving to improve, and to find ways to strengthen our organization – but we can’t do it without YOU, our members!





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