SUU Students Present at AASL National Conference

Published: December 02, 2021 | Author: Lyndsey Nelson | Read Time: 3 minutes

Students to present at library conferenceAt this year’s American Association for School Librarian’s National Conference, two Southern Utah University students made their conference presentation premieres, speaking in front of hundreds of students, librarians, and assorted guests from across the country.

The AASL Conference took place in Salt Lake City this year from October 21-23. Students Savannah Byers and Angi Castillo were invited to join over a hundred other presenters from across the country, including keynote speaker Dr. Omékongo Dibinga, whose time as a presenter and researcher have centered around finding a life balance and speaking up in the face of injustice.

“Because SUU values faculty mentorship for undergraduate research I implemented that element into my practicum class, allowing students to create a presentation proposal as their final project,” said Professor Caitlin Gerrity. “And now I'm thrilled to be able to support my students through their first national conference presentation.”

Byers and Castillo were invited to speak at the conference after applying as a part of their library media practicum class.

“A big part of being a librarian is writing research proposals and grant proposals, we’ve done that as coursework in other classes,” said Byers. “So a chance to apply those skills a little bit more directly was to submit a proposal to the conference. I did not think in a million years that they would choose mine.”

The AASL National Conference has a competitive application process, which took place over five months at the beginning of 2021. Prospective presenters submitted a proposal which detailed not only the theme of the presentations, but also focused on what the presentation would look like, what research would be included, and applicant qualifications. After all applications were reviewed, the presenters were contacted and invited to speak.

Byers’s presentation centered around using TikTok to communicate with Gen Z students.

“There is an area of TikTok that librarians have dominated for a while, and #teachersoftiktok is a pretty big thing so really my presentation introduced current school librarians to that,” said Byers. “It’s not the same as other social media, it’s so different, and being an older member of Gen Z I think I have an interesting insight. I felt like this was just my topic to talk about.”

For her presentation, Byers presented some of the most popular TikToks by librarians as well as the general public, demonstrating the scale of the audience possible, and then concluded by sharing some of her favorite librarian/teacher TikTok accounts and ideas for how to get started..

Castillo’s presentation centered around librarian stereotypes and how the next generation of librarians can work against these stereotypes.

“After speaking with teachers, administration, and students I realized few have a real idea of what I do as a school librarian,” Castillo said. “This gave me the idea to help create change. I wanted to do more research to see what can be done.”

Castillo prepared for her presentation by diving deep into research, focusing on data around the benefits of having school librarians present in public schools, as well as reading books about the harmful stereotypes that surround librarians and watching Ted Talks to prepare her to present.

For both Byers and Castillo, the AASL conference was the first time either had presented at a conference, though certainly not the last. Their well-researched presentations were met with high praise and received well by all in attendance.

SUU’s library media endorsement and minor are fantastic opportunities for students to learn more about what it takes to run a school library, as well as teaching future librarians how to build instructional partnerships and empower their school communities to successfully navigate the information landscape. For more information about the library media program, visit the Gerald R. Sherratt Library website.

Tags: College of Education and Human Development Library

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