Monday, December 05, 2016

NYLA2016 : Wrap-up and Session on Recruiting School Library Students

SU alumna Hannah Ralston
SU Alumna Hannah Ralston
It has been a month since the New York Library Association (NYLA) Annual Conference and time has flown.  Time - finally - for me to write a wrap-up blog post.

At the Business Meeting, it was announced that the NYLA membership now exceeds 5000 people for the first time ever. This is an important milestone for this statewide organization.  It was also mentioned that the 2015 Annual Conference had 1,243 participants (library staff, trustees and supporters).  The final total for 2016 has not been announced, but is over 1000 people.  NYLA is oldest state library association with the distinction of holding the largest state library association conference held on the U.S. East Coast.

Future NYLA Annual Conferences will be held at: 
  • 2017: Saratoga Springs, November 8-11
  • 2018: Rochester, November 7-10
  • 2019: Saratoga Springs, November 13-16
  • 2020: Saratoga Springs, November 4-7
SU faculty and MSLIS students
There are seven library and information science programs in NYS and many hold receptions during the NYLA Conference.  The SU iSchool had 64 alumni, current students (13 total), and friends at it reception. While the number of people packed into the reception is impressive, more impressive is that alumni employers were able to talk with students and other alumni about their current job openings.  When employers can network with potential job seekers, that is powerful.  [Thanks to Smote for the photo to the right.]

Melissa Jacobs, Barbara Stripling and I led a session entitled "Recruit, Retain, Repeat", which focused on recruiting school media (school library) students. Sponsored by the NYLA Section of School Librarians  and the School Library System Association, the session was described as:
School librarians are creative, innovative, and brilliant trailblazers. They are also in danger of extinction. Enrollment in graduate programs has substantially declined over the last decade, but school library vacancies are abundant throughout NYS.  Join your peers for an active conversation to brainstorm how we can recruit and retain for the next generation. Learn about education opportunities, scholarships, and partnerships offered by the New York City School Library System and Syracuse University iSchool and share your success stories of recruiting and training highly effective school librarians. The goal of this interactive session is for all participants to have an engaging conversation on the future of school librarianship and reverse the risk of extinction.
We began by reviewing statewide statistics of the number of school media students and data collected by NYLA on the number of school media specialists currently working in schools.  We then reviewed information on the pathways to certification for a school media specialist.  Finally, we had those present brainstorm ideas that would help all of us recruit more people into this valuable and important area of librarianship.

Our session time went by quickly. While the notes from the brainstorming have been typed up, I haven't yet communicated then back out - as I said upfront, time flies.  However, a few of the ideas were:
  • Creating an easier pathway for teachers who want to become school librarians.
  • Providing library orientation for student teachers, which teaches them about career opportunities while also showing them resources available.
  • Exhibiting/presenting at teacher conferences e.g., NYSCATE).
  • Pushing back on legislation which is making it harder to recruit school librarians.
Barb, Melissa and I are planning to submit a proposal to do a follow-up session at NYLA next fall.  

Finally, NYLA remains one of my favorite conferences!  It is large enough to host a variety of sessions, yet small enough to not be overwhelming.  I find it a real plus that it returns regularly to Saratoga Springs.  Saratoga is easy for people to get to from all areas of NYS.  It is also a beautiful location with tons of good food and gems like an independent bookstore (Northshire).  NYLA attracts all types of librarians, including special librarians.  So if you're in NYS, please consider adding NYLA to your conference list.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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