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On October 1-2, 2009, I had the opportunity to participate in what was by far the most exciting and profound professional event in my career—the School Library Journal Summit in Washington, D.C.  This event was incredibly meaningful to me in two ways.  First, I had the opportunity to finally meet in person so many people with whom I have networked via social networks for some time, people whose work I respect and admire.  I don’t want to exclude anyone, but these people include leaders in our field like Joyce Valenza, Cathy Nelson, Chris Harris, Diane Chen, Sara Kelly Johns,  Dr. Ross J. Todd, Ernie Cox, Alice Yucht, Sophie Brookover, David Loertscher, Brenda Anderson, and Melissa Techman.  Each of these individuals has had a major influence on my practice in some way, and discovering they were even more delightful in person makes the connection I have with each of these people even more special.  Secondly, meeting Brian Kenney, Rocco Staino, and Kathy Ishizuka of School Library Journal was also a thrill—they were the perfect hosts, and I am deeply indebted to their gracious hospitality.  I also met many new people in our field and enjoyed the opportunity to share ideas and have conversations about issues in our profession.    Nearly a month later, I cannot the find the words to express the energy and inspiration I gained from “communing” with these kindred spirits.

It was also an honor to serve as a “tech maven” with my colleague and friend Cathy J. Nelson at the summit.  We used CoverItLive to co-liveblog keynote speeches and sessions; in addition, we incorporated Tweets with the #sljsummit09 hashtag and photos we were taking into the livestream.  Working with Cathy was a real pleasure—we put forth a true team effort, and I feel our backchanneling efforts contributed to the richness of the conversations that were occurring both at the summit as well as in virtual spaces.  I am also grateful to Cathy for letting me ride with her to and from Washington D.C. and for being my “guide” to the summit as this was my first time attending—I am proud to be the colleague and friend of someone who is so progressive and generous with her knowledge.

Image from Kathy Ishizuka
Image from Kathy Ishizuka

I gained a host of terrific ideas at the summit, but the two major themes that stood out for me were advocacy and leadership.  Speakers like Lisa Layera Brunkan and Sara Kelly Johns urged us to find ways to document what we are doing and how it impacts our students and teachers.  This conference also helped me to envision myself more clearly as an advocate and a leader in my school and in my profession—that idea sounds very simple, but for me, it has been empowering .  For me, this means stepping up my assessment efforts and taking my efforts to be transparent about what we are doing here in the library to the next level by providing more specific documentation of the standards being taught as well as the means for showing that data.

I will soon be blogging a  major new initiative for assessment and advocacy that has been inspired by my experiences at the SLJ Summit, so please stay tuned to my blog.  In the meantime, here are some great resources to help you explore the SLJ Summit 09 experience:

As soon as information becomes available about the 2010 SLJ Summit, I will post it here on my blog.  I heartily recommend it to anyone who is interested in growing as a library professional and who wants an experience that will truly have an impact on your thinking and practice!