Jennisen Lucas, district librarian for the Park County School District #6 in Cody, Wyoming, was recently elected as the 2021-2022 President of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). She takes office as President-Elect on July 1. We asked Jennisen to share some of her thoughts about leadership, her goals, and the profession of school librarianship.
What made you decide to run for AASL President?
“It’s difficult to say no when people you admire ask you to step up, but, running really was my choice. This as a chance to boost our profession by adding my passion to that of others as we move forward in promoting our expertise. I’m very excited to work with the others elected to our new board.”
What do you hope to achieve as AASL president?
“As AASL president, I hope to work with the executive board and the membership to increase our voices. I truly believe in AASL’s new mission: “Every School Librarian is a Leader, and Every Learner has a School Librarian.” Our new strategic plan is about helping our membership see themselves as leaders and to help administrators see them in that capacity as well. I’m also hoping that this national position may be helpful to Wyoming by showing the administrators in Wyoming the importance of school library leadership.”
How did your state-level leadership positions prepare you for this?
“There’s no way I would have had the confidence to move into this type of leadership without the help of the amazing school librarians in Wyoming. When I moved here 11 years ago, I really didn’t think I was a leader. I thought of myself as a building-level librarian. But Wyoming is so small that we really all have to be leaders, and I grew in confidence as I found that my ideas were as good as everyone else’s. It could be any one of our school librarians in this position. We all have leadership skills. What I’ve realized is that the more involved I am in our associations, the more I learn, the more I grow, and the better I feel about being a school librarian.”
How have your colleagues in Wyoming encouraged or inspired you?
“I really want to thank my colleagues here in Wyoming for believing in me. I have been inspired by everyone I have met. We all have different strengths and are willing to learn from each other. I could write out a list of people and how they have inspired my teaching and leadership, but I’m afraid I would accidentally forget someone. It really is everyone!”
What does this mean for Wyoming on the national stage?
“It’s interesting to think about this opportunity as bringing Wyoming to the national stage. We’re such a small population state that it seems leadership on a national scale is a far-off dream. Wyoming has such a different lifestyle than many other states, partly due to our small population, and people sometimes dismiss ideas as being for more populous areas. Having a Wyoming leader can bring the importance of school librarians and equitable school libraries to Wyoming. One thing I’m excited about is that the 2021 AASL Conference — during the year I’ll be president — is scheduled to be just south of us in Salt Lake City. What an exciting time to bring our educational leadership around to the power of school libraries! We should start planning now to bring our administrators to Salt Lake.”
Is there anything you’d like to add?
“This is an exciting time to be a school librarian. I’ve seen more conversations with my school district faculties about copyright, ethics, digital resources, and equity of access in the past month than I think I have in my entire 18-year career. Education is changing, and school librarians have a chance to be at the forefront of this. I hope that with me on the executive board of AASL, it may inspire our other Wyoming School Librarians to stand and lead locally to turn Wyoming into a leader in this educational change. We are change agents, and we want all learners — including educators — to inquire, include, collaborate, curate, explore, and engage. This time of “crisis learning” is starting to highlight these skills. This is our chance to shine!”