In a buzzing and cozy conference room on a chilly November day, researchers, school librarians, and advocates gathered to learn from and honor the recipients of the 2019 AASL Research Grant, sponsored by School Library Connection/ABC-CLIO. The 2019 award recognized three papers "for excellence in manuscripts addressing a persistent and recurring challenge in the field of school librarianship," and all five authors were in attendance at AASL National Conference in Louisville to share their work. The honorees and their winning papers are as follows:
- Sue C. Kimmel (Old Dominion University) and Danielle E. Hartsfield (University of North Georgia) for their article "Does ALA Ban Books? Examining the Discourse of Challenged Books" (Library Quarterly, July 2019)
- April Dawkins (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) and Karen Gavigan (University of South Carolina) for their article "E-Book Collections in High School Libraries: Factors Influencing Circulation and Usage" (School Library Research, April 2019)
- Heather Moorefield-Lang (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) for her article "Lessons Learned: Intentional Implementation of Second Makerspaces" (Reference Services Review, February 2019)
The school library research community is a small, but ever warm and welcoming group, so the camaraderie and celebratory spirit in the room made for an especially engaging session. The authors presented the background, methods, and findings of their studies, punctuated with intriguing questions and bridges to the practice of school librarianship. As an audience, we listened and reflected as the researchers asked: What are the experiences and perceptions of high school librarians with eBooks? What are examples of intentionality in designing a second makerspace? What are the meanings conveyed by ALA's book lists— intended, perceived, and actual? In their presentation, Dr. Kimmel and Dr. Hartsfield asserted the need to push the profession to have deeper conversations about the issues at the heart of their study, including language and meaning, and self-censorship. As an observer, I might add that deeper conversations could be drawn from the topics examined in all three research investigations, including access, community needs and perspectives, use of library budgets, effects of library resources on student learning, and the influence of practice on research, and likewise, research on practice. You can view images and tweets from the Research Grant conference session and find AASL's press release about this grant at this Wakelet: https://wke.lt/w/s/XdFGuX
Lucky for me as SLC's Partners & Perspectives Editor, I had the privilege of sitting down with these researchers (at least virtually!) to develop articles for this Research Roundup issue of SLC. As an editorial team, we at SLC were keen to "lift the curtain" behind these research projects and uncover ways that this work might inform the practice of school librarians, introduce questions for your reflection, and provide strategies for examining processes within your school library. The resulting articles are part summary, part interview, and part infographic/takeaway, and it's all—I hope!—an exciting package of research to share for your professional learning, curiosity, and inspiration.
- The Voice of Experience in Creating a Makerspace by Heather Moorefield-Lang
- Infographic: Including Students in Makerspace Design
- Exploring eBook Use in High Schools by April M. Dawkins and Karen W. Gavigan
- Infographic: Censorship: Don't Celebrate, Educate
- Talking about Banned Books by Sue C. Kimmel and Danielle Hartsfield
- Infographic: Promoting eBooks
At the time of this writing, the submission process is ongoing for the 2020 AASL Research Grant Award; the honored research papers will be presented at ALA Annual in Chicago in June 2020. For more on this award, check out AASL's awards website: http://www.ala.org/aasl/awards/research.