AASL Conference Draws Authors and Crowds

Posted Monday, November 18, 2013 - 17:08
AASL conferencegoers Heather Moorefield-Lang (left), Karen Gavigan, and April Dawkins. Photo: Keith Johnston

The 16th American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National Conference and Exhibition in Hartford, Connecticut, drew 3,000 school librarians, administrators, and exhibitors over its four-day run, from November 14 through November 17. Some attendees arrived early on November 13 for preconference workshops and tours.

The biannual gathering featured 168 exhibitors, an authors’ alley where dozens of writers and illustrators signed books during the course of the conference, an author-librarian tweetup, and an unconference in the evening, as well as concurrent sessions and informal networking events.

Ginger the therapy dog makes an appearance at AASL. Photo by Keith JohnstonSessions ran the gamut from establishing social media policies to discussing big data, meeting Common Core standards, and seeing Ginger therapy dog in person as she awaited a reluctant reader to read to her. On November 15, a standing-room-only crowd listened to Committee Chair Melissa Jacobs-Israel present the 2013 AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning.

Authors spoke on several panels, such as the Scientists at Work session, where a panel of four women writers talked about field research and development of story concepts for such books as the Scientists in the Field series. Author Rebecca Johnson gave copies of Zombie Makers (Millbrook Press, 2013) to members of the audience and told stories about working with the scientist who researched crickets invaded by suicide worms.

Another standing-room-only crowd laughed along with the authors of Boys Reading: A Focus on Fantasy panel. Moderated by Jonathan Auxier, the panelists included Jon Scieszka, Adam Gidwitz, Neal Shusterman, William Alexander, and Tony Abbott.

The keynote speaker on November 16 was Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done and a columnist for Harvard Business Review. He had the audience entertained and engaged in games that demonstrated his points about spending time and energy on the things that mean the most.

An author breakfast concluded the conference, with guests Faith Erin Hicks, author of Zombies Calling, Jarrett Krosoczka, author of Lunch Lady, Jennifer and Matt Holm, author and illustrator of Babymouse and Penny from Heaven, and Raina Telgemeier, author of four Baby-Sitters Club novels.

More than 70 sessions were recorded during the conference; AASL members can access these sessions at ala.org/aasl/ecollab.