Professional organizations

Why is AASL going back to a middle school mindset?

Ok, to be fair, it might have been a high school mindset when the Social Media Recognition Task Force came up with the Social Media Superstar program.

When I started seeing tweets and comments about it my first thoughts were that it was interesting that AASL, which has (IMVHO) spectacularly failed to use social media well, was recognizing “superstars” in the profession.  Who were these “superstars”?  So I followed the link to see the list.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

See how many familiar faces are on it?  Ok, so that’s one question answered: for the most part, “superstar” equals people we’ve known and have followed for years.

Then see how we’re supposed to get from “finalist” to “winner”?  Yes, it’s a popularity contest.  Like in middle school, how many Valentines will each finalist get?  Or maybe it’s more like the high school so-called superlatives – which of them has the Best Hair or is part of the Cutest Couple?  Seriously?????  THIS is how we recognize excellence: by asking which contestant gets the most/best “endorsements” from their peers?  I’m…. remarkably unsurprised and at the same time incredibly disappointed.

Instead, what if AASL had sought out newbies?  People 1-5 years (do tiers: 1-3, 3-7, 8-10 years) into their library professional lives who aren’t commonly known names?  People who are doing really interesting things that may have originally been suggested or modeled by others, but with a fresh twist?  People who are deserving of recognition by being potential new leaders in school librarianship.  And what if AASL didn’t make it a contest, but sought out private nominations and then the task force evaluated them, announcing “We recommend you follow/friend/pin/whatever” these people because we see great things here and you need to see them, too?  What if they weren’t names we already knew, but were exciting new discoveries?  Not the over-hype of being a Mover & Shaker, but the recognition of being a fresh new voice?

I write this as someone who knows and counts as friends several of the contestants.  And as someone who got the semi-embarassed email saying, “As some of you know I have been nominated for this aasl recognition. Apparently the way it works is folks leave comments in this post. If any of you are so inclined to leave some comments regarding my use of social media in the realm of librarianship, I’d certainly appreciate it!” I love this person’s work and would happily comment away, but the idea that people have to beg to get AASL’s imprimatur?  Oh hell no.  I just can’t.

Far be it from me to recommend a course of action, but perhaps a few “aren’t we all grown-ups here?  why make this a beauty/popularity contest?” comments – which will get stopped by their moderator queue but they’ll still have to read – will convince the task force to rethink their tactics for 2018.  Or even (a gal can dream) stop this year’s and declare it an amazing tie.

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