SLS Annual Conference

 Carolyn Foote and Grace Riorio Advancing Inclusive And Equitable School Libraries

2023 Joint School Library System Conference marks a return and a broader partnership

 The 2023 Joint School Library System Conference, a joint initiative between the School Library Systems of Southern Westchester, Putnam/Northern Westchester and Rockland BOCES, marked its post-pandemic return as an in-person event. The collaboration of all three lower Hudson Valley BOCES was a first as well.

"We are thrilled to host our library partners from across the larger region for this much anticipated event," said Southern Westchester BOCES School Library System Supervisor, Dr. Jennifer Cannell. "The key note addresses were thought-provoking and insightful, the workshops were collaborative and relevant, and it is deeply meaningful to be able to offer our librarians this in-person learning and networking experience."

The purpose of the conference is to bring school librarians - who are often the only ones in their schools to serve that role - together to learn from each other, network and interact with both authors and library-specific vendors. Keynote sponsors were Discovery Education, OPALS and Digital Theatre+.

Joined by Rockland BOCES School Library System Coordinator Kim Hooper, Joe Mannozzi, coordinator of the PNWBOCES School Library System and Professional Library, said that this year’s conference enabled librarians to share expertise and learn more about advancing inclusive and equitable school libraries.

“We also reminded each other of the importance of providing a welcoming and supportive environment for our students,” Mr. Mannozzi said.

In addition to keynote speakers Carolyn Foote and Grace Riario—whose addresses are featured here—the day featured nine breakout sessions presented by member librarians and other subject-area experts. 

Some examples: SWBOCES’ own Sadika Clarke presented “Recognizing the Signs of Mental Health Challenges in Youth;” Ossining’s Ann Dealy, Sudha Narsipur and Lindsay Valentine presented “School Librarians Lead Equity Through Inclusion in Ossining Schools;” and Colette Politzer of East Ramapo presented “Reaching Out to ELL Students in the Library Media Center.” 

In “Just One Thing: New librarians share their first steps,” ToniAnne Rigano from White Plains, Stephanie Spierings of Eastcheseter & Lauren Weisholz from Scarsdale shared their experiences as first-year librarians. Each shared one thing they’ve done this year to start the work of making their libraries more inclusive and equitable.

Keynote Addresses

 Conference opens with a call for librarians to share their ‘why’ and ends with a focus on students

Carolyn Foote had just finished sharing with some 100 librarians and educators from the region the reason they need to share their “why” when she asked attendees to turn and talk with one another. From the library-like quiet of a rapt audience, the room erupted into a bustle of idea sharing and connection.

“The more we can bring our ‘why’ into the picture the more we can inspire others,” said Ms. Foote, the opening keynote speaker for the 2023 Annual Joint School Library System Conference. “Listen to how much you had to say just now. Listen to how much knowledge you shared, and bring that back to your school library.”

Continue reading here.

Scenes from the 2023 Conference