News From ALA Midwinter

Written by Vicki Winstead

Greetings!  It’s hard to believe the first two months of 2020 are behind us!  And the count is on for spring break. I know I’m looking forward to those longer, warmer days of spring

At the end of January, I traveled to Philadelphia for the ALA Midwinter meeting, along with President-Elect Lindsey Kimery, on behalf of TASL.  I’m excited to share news and experiences from our trip.

Our main purpose for attending Midwinter is to serve as representatives to the AASL Affiliate Assembly.  More information on the Affiliate Assembly can be found here.  During the conference, we attended two meetings of the Affiliate Assembly. It is always great to have time to meet with other school librarians from our region, and around the country.   During our meetings we voted to adopt the new term “Chapters” to better reflect the relationship of AASL’s state and regional associations to ALA.  We also heard from candidates running for office in AASL leadership, including Tennessee School Librarians (and TASL members) Erika Long, Blake Hopper, Hannah Byrd Little and Kate Lewallen.  We heard updates from AASL President Mary Keeling on several topics including the three aspects of the Strategic Plan: leadership activation, education policy, and research.  President Keeling also shared information on AASL Office hours, an open forum on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion that is available to all.  The next Office Hours online meeting will take place May 14 from 6:00-7:00 pm CST via  We also submitted the initial information for three Statements of Commendation to recognize outstanding literacy-focused initiatives in Tennessee.   

When we weren’t in meetings we attended several informative sessions, including the annual Youth Media Awards.  The YMA’s are one of the most exciting moments and Midwinter. The excitement and electricity in the room is palpable.  It was great to see so many outstanding authors and illustrations recognized and applauded for their work.

Youth Media Awards 2020

We also managed to squeeze in some time in the Exhibit Hall.  The Exhibit Hall is always a highlight of this conference. It was great to meet and talk with so many vendors and invite them to our TASL Conference this fall.  There were so many Advance Reader Copies and free books that it was like winning the lottery! Meeting and talking with authors and illustrators is always a memorable experience.  

ALA Exhibit Hall

I had the pleasure of getting to meet author Joseph Bruchac, and hearing him play “Wayfaring Stranger” on his Native American flute. He said it’s a song that makes him think of Tennessee and our musical roots.  I’ve been a fan of his work for many years, so this was a real treat for me.

Author Joseph Bruchac

Philadelphia is a city rich in the history of our nation.  In between meetings, we made a little time to catch some of the highlights of this great city.  It was great to get to see Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed! We also visited the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross’s House, and the Philadelphia Museum of Arts where we ran (at least some of the way) up the famous “Rocky” steps.  

Independence Hall

I am so grateful and honored for the opportunity to represent TASL at the ALA Midwinter meeting.  As we move forward in 2020, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, concerns, or ideas you may have.  I would also like to encourage you to get more involved in TASL this year! If you would like to volunteer to serve on a Committee, help with our Annual Conference or Summer PD just let me know!  TASL needs your time and talent to make our organization the best it can be!

Vicki Winstead is the school librarian at Vance Middle School in Bristol, TN.  She is currently serving as the 2020 President of TASL,  She also serves as a Teacher Ambassador for Bristol Tennessee City Schools.  You can follow her on twitter @VickiWinstead.

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