The South Carolina Association of School Librarians has been having an at times heated debate over a reminder posted on our archaic listserv about the cutting of librarians from schools all over the United States (and even wider). Since I am so wordy, I decided to use my blog for a response–my “professional thoughts” so to speak on the matter.
Nice to see the worry
First let me say it is nice to see the discussion regarding the importance of our jobs. While yesterday it felt “woe is me-ish” today I am happily reading things like grass roots efforts, advocacy, using action research, empowering administrators with our impact on test scores, proving indispensability, and more. It’s not enough, but it is a start in the right direction.
Wouldn’t this be better discussed in the Ning?
Someone suggested the conversation should be moved over to the MySCASL Ning, and yes I too believe that is a more appropriate avenue, but alas the LMS’s of SC have made it clear they do not desire to congregate there, despite the ability to keep all discussions in this topic in one location, easily searchable (significantly easier than searching the SCASL-list archives.) As a member of the Information Technology Committee, I look forward to the redisign of the SCASL website that will include an integrated discussion forum. Maybe when it is there instead of the Ning, it will take root. Speaking of that, have you completed the SCASL Web Survey?? Shame on those who haven’t.
GMail–that k12 identified evil empire–will thread conversations for you!
Lucky me–I get to see the conversation threaded anyway since I use Gmail. But too bad many across this state will never even see my replies or posts there since their district has deemed Gmail and all things Google as an evil empire that can warp teachers all the way down to innocent students. But that’s a whole different soapbox to stand on, so I’ll be quiet about that–for now.
I do have one concern though that stems from the recommendation to partner our library conference with SC Edtech, the annual conference for the South Carolina Association of Educational Technology (SCAET). Early last spring SCASL members and nonmembers alike were asked thoughts about doing a partnered conference with North Carolina’s School Library Media Association. There were many pros and cons pointed out. Pros included shared costs and a bigger, more dynamic opportunity for professional development as each state pooled their resources and brought together the best of both NC and SC for a uniquely better conference experience. But many lamented if that conference was held outside of SC (and if memory serves the proposed place was Charlotte, NC) they would not be permitted professional time to go–that all out of state travel was being denied, primarily due to budget constraints. This idea died down quickly.
Why not an “in-state” partnership?
But I cannot see any reason why the SCASL board cannot explore a possible one year merger with SCAET’s SC Edtech. Why not throw this question out and see what LMS’s think of this partnership? Yes there would be more work to do. Yes there would have to be some accommodations made with the conference planners of both organizations. Yes there would be more meetings to divvy up responsibilities and work towards a common goal. But sharing some of the costs (like venue, wifi, parking, keynotes and other paid speakers, mailings, promotional material, more) could be beneficial to both organizations. I for one can only think of good reasons for considering this.
I’m in favor of it!
I for one an very much in favor of these two organizations (SCASL and SCAET) coming together for a combined experience–at least for one year. In these times where budgets are tight, and schools are more and more limiting outside professional development, wouldn’t this be a potential solution? This year I was not able to attend SC Edtech. It is the first ever one that I have missed. But it was either SC Edtech or SCASL, and so I opted to forego Edtech. How awesome it is to think that perhaps in the coming years there may be an opportunity to attend both simultaneously? Come on SCASL put a committee together to seriously research this and consider it.
Oh the possibilities!
In the past annual SCASL conferences have attempted to highlight a content area, even asking members to bring a content area teacher to our conference. This never did really work. But perhaps we need to reconsider this, thinking partnerships with other professional organization’s annual conference. Why not a SCASL-SCIRA, SCASL-SCTE, SCASL-SCTM, SCASL-SCASA, etc. partnership conference each year-(okay yes that list could go on and on.) How often do we hear that we are preaching to the choir? What better way to show other educators that together, collaborating, we can truly impact student learning through a shared effort? Well, if we want to save not only our jobs, but also our organization, we’d better start thinking out of the box, and move away from the traditional model, which apparently is struggling and doesn’t seem to have a large fan base since SCASL membership numbers and conference attendance are both down. I have heard many times SCASL is a conference driven organization. With attendance numbers declining, it seems the organization and annual conference are also at risk here. But please NOTE that I am a paying member, and one who DOES plan to attend the annual conference too.
I’d like to hear what others perceive as the cons. It would certainly be a win-win opportunity for vendors and businesses seeking to woo us with their wares. And it would be a fantastic “in-house” advocacy effort with our partners in teaching students. Is a conference partnership a “field of dreams?” Could it be true that “if you build it, they will come….?”
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