Jane Lofton

Retired teacher librarian and chair of the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee

I am going to be wearing a few hats at the conference. I did retire a year ago last June, but, being a lifelong learner, I can’t stop!

I was just recently asked to coteach a course for Rutgers University for pre-service librarians. It’s on emerging literacies. So, at AASL I’m going to be especially interested in any of the emerging literacies, of which there are so many. Of course, librarians have always had a focus on literacy and information literacy, but now there are so many other things to think about, and they’re all overlapping: such as media literacy, tools literacy, things like digital storytelling. Building a personal learning network is part of being literate these days. I’ll also be trying to connect with other educators of pre-service librarians to find out what they’re doing and gain insight from them.

I’m also chairing the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning this year. I’m excited about attending the session presented by Heather Moorfield-Lang, last year’s chair. And I’ll be keeping an eye out for any new websites that might be candidates for next year.

I’ll also be copresenting an IdeaLab session—like an electronic poster session—on green screening. We will introduce people to how easy and valuable this technology is for them and their students, and share ideas for how they can use it. We’re going to have a green screen there so people can try it out taking green screen photos of themselves.

But my biggest focus is as social media chair for this conference. My job is basically to inspire as much positive social media sharing during the conference as possible, both for more learning and also, frankly, for fun. It’s fun to take selfies with members of your personal learning network whom you’ve never met until just now or whom you haven’t seen in a long time. And I think the more fun we have the more we learn, too, and the better network we build for future learning.

Having a conference backchannel on the major platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook is really important. We’re also looking at Snapchat, Google+, and we’ve set up a Google photo album for people to post photos to.

The platform I’m the most focused on and best at is Twitter. I’m going to be presenting a session on Twitter with my friend Katie McNamara, designed to get beginners going on it to build their, and their students,’ personal learning networks.

Twitter can really be a collaborative note-taking tool. If I hear a speaker give a link or say something that really struck me but I didn’t get it down just right, maybe someone else will tweet it. And then I have it. If I’m not in a given session or even not at the conference, I can still get something out of it by seeing the posts that someone who was at that session sends out.

One of the new things we’re trying this year is a daily social media-posting contest. We’re going to recognize the various best posts in several different categories: most informative post, most entertaining, best picture, best notes, best selfie, best group photo, and best #notatAASL post. The “prize” is really just bragging rights, recognition, and a digital badge, but we think it will inspire more people to participate.

We also invited people to join a social media squad. Their job is to make sure that they’re doing a good number of posts each day, and encourage their colleagues to join the conference backchannel as well. We are also asking them to try recording videos, like a short Periscope for a portion of a session. They’ve been doing that a lot at conferences like ISTE, and that’s going to be new for us.

Also, in addition to the conference hashtag, we will be using a #notatAASL hashtag to help people who can’t attend. We’re going to do some cheerleading for that, and we will have a few fun challenges for those people, such as creating a virtual badge and green screen images. My hope is we’ll up our game on how many people are participating on social media and thereby enriching their learning at the conference.

Heather Williams

Public relations manager

Arbordale Publishing

AASL is always a good show for us. This year we are focusing on our technology and talking about all the benefits of our read-aloud e-books and literacy programs as well as our science and math programs.

Our content allows for cross-curricular learning, which is great for librarians who are introducing different topics. There are multiple types of content within one book that kids can explore. Maybe they want to go down the science path, or they might want to just read for a story. In the back of each book we have our For Creative Minds section that breaks down the different topics. The section has quizzes, which teachers love, and it always helps librarians whenever we can give them a broader range of material within one book or one app.

Our main thing is hoping to break the notion that all e-books are created equal. Our e-books have multiple languages, word highlighting, and audio speed controls. These things can make an enormous difference in developing children’s reading and vocabulary skills.

We work with teachers and librarians all around the country, so AASL is always a great opportunity to meet with the librarians we’ve worked with in the past and new librarians. It’s great to talk to librarians who are super enthusiastic about child literacy and who are working with teachers to incorporate science and math into reading.

We love to hear the feedback on features that they need or something that they’re looking for, so that maybe we can drive in that direction in the future. Our speed control and word highlighting are two features that have come through conferences, from teachers and librarians asking over the years. We made sure to get that very precise.

We do have one author going to AASL. Terri Fields will be signing her book Tornado Tamer on Friday. She lives in Arizona and does a lot of school visits in the area.

Adrienne Waintraub

Executive director of school and library marketing

Random House Children’s Books

We are very excited to be going to AASL. We are focusing on books and authors that school librarians will be able to feature when working with teachers to support curriculum needs and have in their collections to suggest to students looking for their next favorite read. It’s always enlightening to hear from the point of view of the school librarian.

We will have books with STEAM connections, graphic novels—Judd Winick, the author of Hilo, will be with us—and new titles such as The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead, and the first book in Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust. We will also have Ellen Oh with us. Ellen is the editor of Flying Lessons Other Stories, an anthology of 10 middle grade stories, and the cofounder of We Need Diverse Books.

Mary Ann Scheuer

School librarian

Berkeley (Calif.) Unified School District

AASL is such a special conference, with its focus on all aspects of our unique roles as teachers and librarians. There are opportunities to dig deeply into teaching strategies and digital tools. I love the chance to learn about new authors and share favorite books. While ALA can feel overwhelming, AASL feels focused and I’m able to make connections more easily with colleagues. The size is so much more manageable!

As a co-chair of AASL’s National Conference, I’ve tried to ensure that our programs meet the diverse needs of our members as they support students and teachers across the nation. Whether you’re interested in diversity and equity issues, digital literacy and inquiry, or new programming ideas, I hope you’ll find sessions that encourage you to think more deeply about your practice.

I’m particularly excited to talk with several leading authors of books for beginning readers. Our concurrent session panel will explore how authors like Megan McDonald [Judy Moody] write books specifically for beginning readers. She will be joined by Fran Manushkin [Katie Woo], Dori Butler [King Kayla] and Richard Haynes [Slingshot Burp] as they talk about balancing the need to keep their books predictable, yet also sparkling with humor and wit. For these readers, a formula is appropriate and essential, but they also want funny, fresh stories.

Andie Krawczyk

Library marketing manager

Candlewick Press

We are excited to share with school librarians highlights from Candlewick’s fall 2017 and spring 2018 lists. We will be distributing ARCs and resources for school libraries, including discussion and teachers’ guides, posters, bookmarks, and booklets of our new My First Book Club.

The authors we are sponsoring this year are Carole Boston Weatherford [Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library], Megan McDonald [Judy Moody and the Bucket List], and Richard Haynes [Slingshot Burp], who will all be featured speakers. Weatherford will be moderating the “Mirror, Mirror: Reaching All Readers” panel, and McDonald and Haynes will be speaking on the “Reading on My Own! Beginning Readers Series” panel. Debut author-illustrator and local artist Juana Martinez-Neal will be at the show as well, to sign lithographs of her new picture book with us, Alma and How She Got Her Name, coming out next April.

The face time we get with school librarians at AASL is invaluable—we have the chance to hear about the exciting programs and initiatives in their libraries and receive helpful feedback on the books we’re publishing and how we can support their work. The exclusive exhibit time allows for these meaningful interactions. There are also many opportunities for authors and illustrators to engage with attendees, including the concurrent sessions, Authorpalooza, and Junior Library Guild’s author meet-and-greets.

Lindsay Matvick

Publicity manager

Lerner Publishing Group

Lerner will be celebrating our new partnership with Crayola. We invite attendees to stop by and play a game to win a sample book from our new Crayola Seasons or Crayola Concepts series. Plus we’re hosting a prepub picture book signing of Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship with authors Irene Latham and Charles Waters. Accompanied by artwork from acclaimed illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko, Can I Touch Your Hair? presents paired poems about family dinners, sports, recess, and more, using the poems to explore what it means to be black and white in America. Free copies are available during the signing from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on November 10.

AASL is a terrific opportunity for us to talk with school librarians to better understand the challenges and opportunities they face within their schools. School librarians have been key partners in Lerner’s nearly 60-year history; we’ve consulted with them to develop topics and book features that serve the needs of students and educators. We host librarian focus groups during AASL, and we also gain great insights through conversations at our booth that influence our product development and help us better serve librarians.

Lucy Del Priore

Director of school and library marketing

Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

My focus for this show is to evaluate exhibit floor traffic and attendee interest in the exhibitors and the amount of time they’re on the floor as opposed to being in programs. Since we have four authors on programs—Jack Gantos, Christian Robinson, Katherine Roy, and Dan Santat—I thought it would be a great opportunity to spend time with our authors while evaluating the conference overall in terms of our future level of participation. Since we’re not exhibiting, it’s also an opportunity for us to partner with some of our key school and library wholesale accounts to arrange for author signings. We help generate traffic to their booths while our authors have the space and chance to meet and chat with attendees one-on-one.

Amy Cox

Marketing director

Capstone Publishing

Capstone is launching a new line of books featuring Capstone 4D augmented reading experiences. Libraries are really at the forefront of embracing what literacy means in the 21st century, and Capstone’s 4D books are an exciting way to blend the benefits of a print book with bonus digital content that appeals to the YouTube generation. Readers can download the free Capstone 4D app to their favorite device and see videos that relate to the book. Many of the titles are designed to support makerspaces, so kids get the benefits of reading the step-by-step instructions and the video to see how it all comes together.

School librarians are smart, innovative, dedicated professionals who have a way of making sure their voices are heard, whatever the conference. But when they are running the entire show, that’s when the magic happens. It’s inspiring to see their dedication to students, in big ways like developing the new set of learning standards to be unveiled this year, and in more personal ways like their excitement when they come across a book at the booth that is just the right match for a particular student. This year also promises to be an energetic one, as issues like information literacy and digital citizenship that school librarians have embraced for eons have become such a part of our national conversation.

Tim Ditlow

V-p of content


Tens of thousands of school librarians use Epic, and we look forward to meeting our customers in person, hearing what the librarians who use Epic like and what else they would like to see from us. Our digital library includes 25,000 high-quality books—completely free for teachers and school librarians to use in school. We are also grateful to have such an incredible group of librarians using Epic and helping to spread the word with teachers in their schools and provide access to even more books to more kids.

This is our first time exhibiting, and we were invited to take a table in a special pavilion section set aside for companies who were awarded Best Apps and Best Websites from AASL in 2016.

More than 50 of our publishing partners are exhibiting, and we look forward to meeting with them to find out about their 2018 children’s e-books. And we love authors, so we look forward to hearing many of them speak at the Authorpalooza.

Laurie Katz

Director of publicity


We’re excited to show off our new products at this November’s AASL: our two new elementary resources—The World Almanac for Kids Elementary, a brand-new elementary edition of the trusted database, and The Mailbox School District, an institutionwide edition of the teacher favorite—plus the relaunched Bloom’s Literature.

AASL is always a great opportunity for us to connect with our K–12 customers in person and make new contacts and partnerships. There’s nothing like the face-to-face interaction with school librarians to help us get insight into their needs along with valuable feedback on our products. The fact that the conference is held only once every two years makes us look forward to it all the more. ■