Unleash the Power in Alabama: AASL National Conference Preview

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Birmingham, the largest city in Alabama, will welcome the American Association of School Librarians November 10-14 for "Unleash the Power!" the ALA division's ninth national conference and exhibition. This will be the last AASL conference of the 20th century, but it also will be a conference of many firsts.

Some early-bird arrivals will have preregistered for one of the 29 workshops offered, while others can register for tours to 18 area school media centers. Nine cultural tours have also been scheduled, among them the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Tuskegee National Park and University, the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

The opening blast

To start the conference off with a bang, free "blast off" sessions will be held Thursday, 1-3 p.m. For the first time, these sessions have been promoted as "hands-on interactive opportunities" and a special treat for attendees. Those in a lab setting will be limited to the first 20 people. Topics for these sessions include: technology projects for the classroom, Internet search engines, staff development, authentic learning tasks and assessment, and how to go from LAN to WAN.

The opening general session (Thursday, 3:30-5:30 p.m.) will include a parade of flags, a tradition of the conference's cosponsors, the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL). An attendee from each country represented will present its national flag.

Maya Angelou - well-known for, among other things, her stirring poetry reading at President Clinton's inauguration in 1993 - will be the keynote speaker for the second stage of the blast-off.

Concurrent sessions

On Friday and Saturday, a total of 280 concurrent sessions will be held. One of the dominant strands running throughout the conference is the implementation of the techniques and standards in the second edition of Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning (ALA Editions, 1998). AASL President M. Ellen Jay will present "Analysis of Computer-based Learning Activities: Putting Information Power Theory into Practice" (Saturday, 10:30-11:30 a.m.), and Marjorie Pappas will give practical examples of "Authentic Learning and the Learning Community" to support these components of Information Power (Friday, 10-11:30 a.m.).

Technology, the Internet, and multimedia will also be the focus of much discussion. Don't miss the session by Annette Lamb of the University of Southern Indiana on "KidPix to PhotoShop: Imaging Ideas for the Information Age" (Friday, 8:30-9:30 a.m.), or Susan H. Bannon of Auburn University, who will ask and answer "Are Library Media Specialists Becoming Technology Leaders?" (Saturday, 3-4 p.m.). "Teaching the Evaluation and Organization of Internet Resources" (Friday, 1:30-3 p.m.) will feature Pam Berger and Barbara Stripling, who will demonstrate tools to help students use the Internet effectively.

If puppets are your forte, check out the author-illustrator duo of Valerie Marsh and Patrick Luzadder and make some puppets during their "Tasty Tales and Trickster Tales to Tell Tomorrow" session (Saturday, 4:30-5:30 p.m.). Perhaps you'll want to visit "Children, Storytelling, and the Internet" (Friday, 10-11:30 a.m.), presented by Anne Wallace, David Schutten, and Barbara Hallstrom of DeKalb County, Georgia. If your students are hungry, try "Bagels and Books" (Saturday, 3-4 p.m.), a wonderful concept that comes from Leslie Lomers, of Fairhope (Ala.) High School.

Other session topics include: automation and migrating systems, intellectual freedom, copyright, cataloging, block scheduling, facilities design, and Internet searching. And don't forget to join in the book discussions.

Research forum

The IASL-sponsored Third International Forum on Research in School Librarianship is a "first" opportunity for AASL members to review current research at a national conference. …