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I am running for American Library Association President and would welcome your ideas, suggestions and concerns.

To contact me off-blog, feel free to e-mail me at  either my personal e-mail <> or my campaign e-mail <> 

I'd love to hear from you--Sara


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Quite the list of books!

I don't always agree with ALA president Michael Gorman (I cringed when I read his remarks about blogging, for instance) but on the ALA Council listserv, he posted an interesting list of books that all children should read, chosen by Andrew Morton, Great Britain's poet laureate, JK Rowling and Philip Pullman. It's from a Guardian article <,6194,1698794,00.html> and I am not sure how long it will be available; if it's no longer up and you want it. let me know. Morton's choices are rather difficult reading for most students but he defends them by saying,"...I see no intrinsic reason why children shouldn't read these works. They are wonderful, profoundly democratic works of art, but because some of them have a reputation as difficult they are put in a box and called elitist."

 What would be on YOUR short list? (Be sure to check out the last quote.) Of the three lists there, my own list would be closest to Rowling's.

 PS--Jacquie Henry had a hard time making that link work. If you go directly to the Guardian, the story's title is:

From Beatrix Potter to Ulysses ... what the top writers say every child should read by Charlotte Higgins. 

As per Alice Yucht's request, here are the lists mentioned in the article:

Reading lists

JK Rowling
Author of the Harry Potter series

Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl
Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe
David Copperfield Charles Dickens
Hamlet William Shakespeare
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
Animal Farm George Orwell
The Tale of Two Bad Mice Beatrix Potter
The Catcher in the Rye JD Salinger
Catch-22 Joseph Heller

Philip Pullman
Author of the His Dark Materials trilogy

Finn Family Moomintroll Tove Jansson
Emil and the Detectives Erich Kästner
The Magic Pudding Norman Lindsay
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak
The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens (or other good anonymous ballads)
First Book of Samuel, Chapter 17 (the story of David and Goliath)
Romeo and Juliet William Shakespeare
A good collection of myths and legends
A good collection of fairytales

Andrew Motion
Poet laureate

The Odyssey Homer Charles Dickens
Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes
Hamlet William Shakespeare
Paradise Lost John Milton
Lyrical Ballads Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth
Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë
Great Expectations Charles Dickens
Portrait of a Lady Henry James
Ulysses James Joyce
The Waste Land TS Eliot





Oracle, Librarian with Super Powers

For your entertainment:

From my son Ryan Brenizer, a 27 year old communications specialist at Teacher’s College, Columbia. Ryan had deadlines to meet a few days ago and, at a cross-eyed moment where he needed a respite, shot me this e-mail:

“I stumbled across an old story on the Web called "Batgirl was a librarian." I thought it was interesting, because yes, the Batgirl in  the comic books and old TV show was a librarian, and it's not often  that you get to see SUPERHERO librarians.

But then I realized something that I'd figure the vast majority of  librarians don't know about, and it might be interesting to bring up  in some way.

In the comics, in 1986, the Batgirl character was shot in the spine by the Joker, leaving her paralyzed by the waist down.  Instead of retiring, though, she reinvented herself as Oracle, basically the world's best researcher, who uses her informational  skills to help the rest of the superheroes solve crimes, and she  happens to be one of the biggest figures in the comic books, behind  only the biggest names like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

I'm sure you can see the implications here. While, sure, it was neat  to have a superhero who just happened to be a librarian in her off- time, it's something else when one of the biggest heroes in this fictional universe, someone as important as the people who can move  mountains, is important BECAUSE she is a librarian, using her  librarian skills.

A genius-level intellect with a near-eidetic memory and a master in  her field, she has an excellent ability to correlate seemingly  disparate data into a cohesive and logical whole. Her intuitive sense  about information allows her to find connections that are not readily  apparent to anyone else. Her multitasking abilities border on the  superhuman and she handles herself well under pressure.”

More info:


At one time, Ryan and Joyce Valenza’s daughter Emily started to put together a comic e-book for the kids of librarians, “Children of the Stacks.” "Never mess with the children of librarians" was their message for the world! OK, I edited that message slightly...




My AASL candidate's speech...

is posted here since I haven't figured out how to attach a document. I have LOTS to figure out! Bear with me...

 Thank you…I think it is very appropriate that this Candidates’ Forum follows Affiliate Assembly because was participation in Affiliate Assembly that I really felt the connection to an AASL region and to the AASL organization when I attended it as the president of the School Library Media Section of NYLA in 1994.  I distinctly remember attending AA as president of my state affiliate…it was one of many “interesting” experiences one faces when representing your members as president.

During the SLMS conference, I found myself looking for tape, helping one of the “battiest” SLMS members change her hotel reservation, and recognizing from a tiny picture in a legislative handbook the state senator who is chair of the committee on libraries when he strolled into the exhibits unannounced. What made it rather ludicrous was that I was dragging a luggage rack upon which was perched an almost life-sized soft sculpture of Melvil Dewey!  And as we strolled and chatted, I was suddenly joined by the state librarian, the Deputy Commissioner of education and Sen. Farley’s aide who had all heard very quickly that he was there—and I was still dragging Melvil. With dignity, I hope.

Yesterday I watched Linda Williams concerned about tape as she simultaneously led the Board’s look at the mega issue: “How does the profession remain viable in the future.” It’s all part of leading an association whose the core purpose is providing leadership for excellence in the school library profession. AASL is foremost a national voice for school libraries and librarians and for the students in our nation’s schools I would like the opportunity to be your president and make that voice loud and strong.

My membership and yours give the voice of AASL its volume. If I call or write a legislator, I get more respect when I start with:  "As an AASL member, I represent over 10,000 members who are interested in your stand on this issue."  I don't speak alone, my voice is joined with all of the other members--and more members mean a louder voice.  Yesterday, the Board heard ALA Director Keith Fiels pledge to use the voice of ALA, with a volume of 66,500 members to support AASL’s efforts to stop the 65% Solution. Keith’s question to legislators and administrators is “how can you say you are for education and then cut libraries?” AASL and ALA can shout for libraries and the education of our students.

In 2003, I was at the AASL Board meeting as an observer when the Board adopted the new vision statement, goals and essential functions. All are strong and forward thinking. But what caught my attention was one phrase of the essential functions, that AASL needed to be fast, focused, friendly, flexible, and fun. In the past few weeks, I have participated in that action.

It was an Affiliate Assembly concern about the First Class Education’s 65% solution that brought the issue to the AASL Board for action. The AASL Forum listserv brought together a concerned group of about 15 AASL members.  We decided to create an ALA Council resolution using a wiki, a resolution that you have heard a lot about at his conference. In addition to the flexibility, focus and friendliness of the wiki--there were close to 100 e-mails in about 3 weeks—the communication and collaboration were fast considering everyone was on holiday schedules. The “fun” was getting something accomplished that needed to be done to stop a movement that will negatively change students’ education.

Those five essential functions also can describe the leadership I can provide for AASL as your president.

Fast = multi-tasker, high energy, “high-level communicator”
Focused = Thus, I’ve been participated
ALA as a councilor, drawn by intellectual freedom issues
AASL—region II, Knowledge Quest associate editor, membership committee NSLMPY
NYLA- Council, legislative committee
SLMS –region rep, president and, perhaps my biggest impact, as educational leadership committee chair, formed to implement IP and to bring leadership training to school librarians in New York State
SUNY Plattsburgh—adjunct professor, K-16 information literacy
Trustee—president, new children’s room as part of a capital fund project
Friendly = collaborative, coalition-building, connector, work well as a team member, active advocate, leadership style inclusive and affirming
Flexible = new technologies, new connections, new ways of working, Blogs, wikis need to be part of our vocabularies and toolboxes, both as information managers and as information-skills modelers.
Fun = sharing, laughter, reaching out and bringing in, approachable and accountable, I think working together for libraries and making progress IS fun.

As much as I appreciate AASL, I’d never try to say that it couldn’t be improved. I grimaced when asked by a reporter how I would change the current reputation of AASL as being bureaucratic and slow acting. It was a phone interview so she couldn’t see my face, but I answered, “AASL is working hard to change.” We have a new strategic plan and will meet at Midwinter to work at how it will affect the organization. And we did. All day Friday. AASL will be even more responsive to students’ and members’ needs.

I have a vision for AASL’s members… My vision is that
• The decision-makers in our schools recognize the crucial role of school library programs in student literacy,
• Legislators and education organizations and
consult us whenever educational decisions are made
• Administrators recognize us as the “highly qualified” teachers we are.

AASL can make that happen.

•     Partnerships with educational agencies and organizations and with other ALA divisions
AASL's Strategic Plan calls for its leadership to educate local, state and national decision-makers about the critical role school library professionals play in student achievement. As president, I would advance increased connections and partnerships with educational, technology and administrator organizations (the groups whose members affect our daily work as school librarians) such as IRA, CISSL, ISTE, and especially administrator and school board organizations such as National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the National Middle School Association (NSMA), The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), American School BoardsAssociation. NASSP and NAESP, ASCD, National School Boards Associations and the National Association of State Boards of Education. To quote an e-mail from Gary Hartzell: “These groups are made up of the people who set budgets, set schedules, determine personnel, do program and personnel evaluations, and structure opportunities for libraries and librarians.  These are the people with whom your members need help -- and these are the people that AASL needs to convince that libraries are an investment and not a cost.”  As president, I would target, research and court these groups. We have the correlational studies now and I support a longitudinal study on the effectiveness of school libraries.

Being partners with Partnerships for the 21st Century and NEA is just the beginning for AASL.  We need to be true partners with more educational associations, assisting them with meeting their goals as they help us to meet ours.
Our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), is after all:
“To achieve universal recognition of school library media specialists as indispensable educational leaders.”
• Grassroots advocacy with AASL members
As president, I would promote Virtual National Library Legislation Day to increase the number of school librarians who e-mail, fax and phone their national legislators on that day—(May 1 & 2 this year). Affiliate Assembly members need to be kept even more updated and involved with legislative events that will make a difference for students and librarians.  Increased communication is crucial to making the connection between a piece of legislation and out students.

•New member mentoring
It was one person who persuaded me to join ALA and another who showed me how to fill out and submit a committee volunteer form, I might not have renewed my membership without such mentoring. As President, I would enthusiastically support the new member mentoring special committee, chaired my one of my mentors, Fran Roscello, needs the enthusiastic support of the AASL Board as it develops strategies and activities for providing opportunities for new AASL members to participate in committees, events, conferences and advocacy. We need even more virtual members on committees, perhaps Interest Groups for blogs, wikis and other interactive means of communication.

•Increased communication to all members using new technologies
Wasn’t the AASL conference blog grand?  My thanks to Alice Yucht and all her volunteer bloggers who helped me learn about the sessions I was closed out of or which were at the same time as others I attended. And for those who weren’t there…they were using their membership benefits remotely to participate and learn. As president, I would encourage committees and taskforces to use the newly approved AASL Blog to share their work and to gather information from AASL members. More use of emerging technology allows members to be informed and also to participate. Gee, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the legislative committee had a blog and could keep members’ attention on legislative issues and advocacy needed?

I truly feel that the new Strategic Plan will lead, push and sometimes shove AASL to be the “fast, focused, friendly, flexible and fun” organization it needs to be. AASL will lead school librarians into the future and support us as we work for students.

Again, AASL is the voice of and for school libraries. It takes 2000 votes for someone to be elected to council; in the last election less than 1800 AASL members voted. For AASL’s voice to be heard, it’s extremely important for everyone in this room and everyone you know to vote in the ALA elections between March 15th and April 24th. The campaign slogan I wanted to use was “Just Vote, dammit.”   

I would be honored to be the voice of AASL as its president. I’ll appreciate your support.