Monday, October 25, 2010

SLJ Leadership Summit 2010: The Future of Reading

Last week, I attended my first SLJ Leadership Summit. Here are some of my impressions, thoughts, and, of course, photos.

The location
: Although I've passed through Chicago many times, this was my first real visit to the city. Without much time to sight see, I did manage to walk around a bit, exploring the stores on the Magnificent Mile and snapping pictures of the amazing skyline.

The people
: re-connecting with my Tribe was, as always, a joy. But, on a broader scale, it was wonderful to be at a conference where everyone had a similar focus and a common vision regarding the profession of librarianship and the importance of both books and technology in libraries. This wasn't a print vs. eBooks crowd: speakers and attendees engaged in a rich dialog regarding the necessity of many tools to enhance and enrich the library experience of the students - and teachers - that we serve. It truly was a summit for Leaders.

The presentations
: Keynote speaker Stephen Abram set the tone by considering "The Future of Reading in 2020." Although he envisions changes, it's more of an evolution than a revolution, with librarians not just participating but leading. Abram concludes by assuring us that "It gets better. Librarians can help."

Student Voice was represented at the Summit by students from University Laboratory High School, accompanied by their librarian, Frances Harris. These articulate young people shared some insights about their life as readers. All of them had been read to by their parents, as children; their favorite genres are sci fi/fantasy; finding the time for recreational reading is a problem, due to packed schedules; all prefer print books, though they might consider eBooks for college texts (price is a definite issue).

Members of the Carnegie Council for Advancing Adolescent Literacy shared data pertinent to this topic, then discussed their recommendations for adding value to eReaders for classrooms and libraries. This list is still in draft form, and contains important points that need to be considered by both educators and developers: for example, the Council wants devices to have multiple capabilities that can be enabled or hidden by the librarian/teacher depending on student needs. In response to audience feedback, Council members agreed to incorporate strong language regarding the key role of librarians as leaders in the adoption of new reading technologies.

Author Patrick Carman talked a little about his personal relationship with books, then demonstrated how he enhances his stories with interactive features that turn the reader into a co-creator of the narrative. Trackers, for example, is "told through a collage of videos, text, and websites." It is not merely a book that you read; it is a world that you experience.

Caldecott-winning illustrator Paul Zelinsky walked us through the evolution of his newest picture book, Dust Devil. Although Zelinsky would appear, on the surface, to take a more traditional approach to books and reading - and was passionate in expressing a preference for print - his presentation included both electronic and "steampunk style" tools.

There was much more to hear, discuss, and ponder at the SLJ Leadership Summit. Many of the sessions were taped, and School Library Journal will be sharing archives on the conference site, as they become available.

Thanks to the corporate sponsors, and School Library Journal, for offering this opportunity to convene, connect, and construct.

My photos of the conference are here. The SLJ Summit 1o group can be found here.

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