I am very honored indeed to be the Fall 2019 recipient of the Crystal Honor Award of the Association of Illinois School Library Educators (AISLE).
According to the AISLE website, special honor awards are designed to honor and recognize individuals for distinguished and exceptional service or contributions to AISLE and/or the library community. The awards are unique in that they are initiated by a member of the Board, are highly selective, and given only at the discretion of the Board. The Crystal Honor Award recognizes distinguished support of/or contributions to the school library profession, school libraries in Illinois, and/or contributions to the Association.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the AISLE conference last month to accept the award in person. Following is the brief acceptance speech I sent to be read on my behalf.
You cannot imagine how surprised and grateful I am to be the 2019 recipient of your Crystal Honor Award. I especially appreciate that the awards committee specified that the award is intended not only to acknowledge my participation in a quarter century of school library impact research but also for the research I am doing—and hope to do—with Debra Kachel and others on the status and future of school librarianship.
As important as the impact studies have been, I believe it is imperative that we shift our focus to a new and even more urgent research agenda, one that engages school staffing decision-makers in an ongoing two-way dialog. In an era of seismic structural changes in public education, they are making difficult decisions on a daily basis that are often renaming and restructuring librarian jobs. We need to understand their thinking and their perceptions of the forces at work far better than we do. And, in order to exert any influence over how the future of school librarianship is reshaped, we need to engage them in a generational conversation about alternative ways to provide for the library, learning resources, and technology needs of their students and teachers. In pursuing such research and in acting on its findings, it is critical that we acknowledge our need to listen to them as much as their need to listen to us.
I take this award as both an acknowledgement of my past work and an endorsement of this new research agenda.
Thank you for this encouragement.