Reflections and Learning from AISL Professional Book Discussion by Faith Ward

Why did we engage in a group book study of Embracing Culturally Responsive Practice in School Libraries?: As leaders in our school communities, we are confronted with shifting expectations of the librarian, the role they play in cultivating the culture of the school, and the many curricular demands placed on the school library program. School librarians have always connected learners’ life experiences, cultures, and communities to materials, projects, and processes. That expertise, and its continual development, is essential to our profession today. We knew that reading and discussing this book would help us continue to lead and model meaningful steps toward a culturally responsive mindset. Elisabet Kennedy’s book, Embracing Culturally Responsive Practice in School Libraries, celebrates how learners’ cultures shape everything from their communication to how they process information. By reading and discussing the book together, we hoped to learn new approaches and ground our understanding of culturally responsive practices in our Libraries.

What we did: The aim of this communal reading was to challenge us as readers to embrace and nurture our own personal and professional growth. Through our joint reading and discussion we shared our insights and takeaways about concepts covered in the book, actionable steps, and activities based on culturally responsive principles that directly relate to AASL Standards. Elisabet Kennedy’s knowledgeable experiences engaged us as professional colleagues with reflective exercises and challenges. Because our reading and virtual discussions were planned over three months, we had the opportunity to reflect on the readings and our own challenges and successes in our Library programs.

Our collective reading included the discussion of topics such as culture, identity, and bias: the creation of norms and upholding those standards in our spaces; library displays, signage and policies that make an example of culturally responsive work; planning yearly goals with internal and external partners. Through our reading and time spent with Elisabet Kennedy, we built connections, celebrated the many innovative and thoughtful approaches that AISL librarians are facilitating in their school libraries, and expanded ideas for how we as a profession can continue to foster growth in our learning communities. Feel welcome to reach out to Faith Ward or Tricia DeWinter for more information and ideas for starting another book discussion such as this.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this title for our next book study/discussion:

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