Opening General Session & Keynote

Thursday, October 21  |  3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


“Why settle for outstanding when you can be UPstanding?”

Dr. Omékongo Dibinga is a professor of Inter-cultural Communication and a faculty affiliate to the Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University. He is also an international speaker whose life’s mission is to inspire all across the globe to take a stand when they witness an injustice, no matter how small or large.

Dr. Omékongo’s most recent book “The UPstander’s Guide to an Outstanding Life” is a life balance book for students. In his book, Dr. Omékongo provides key steps that all students must adopt to achieve greatness in their lives so they may advance their causes in the most effective way possible.

Dr. Omékongo earned his M.A. in Law & Diplomacy at the Fletcher School and his Ph.D. in International Education Policy at the University of Maryland where his dissertation centered on the global hip-hop phenomenon and Jay-Z. At UMD, he also worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Teaching Diverse Students Initiative.” Across the country he has worked with school districts on culturally relevant instruction.

Dr. Omékongo Dibinga


Friday General Session

Friday, October 22  |  8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Join superintendents and principals from across the country for an engaging, interactive, and frank conversation on what administrators need and expect from their school librarians and school libraries and how administrators can empower a school librarian’s leadership role to impact all learners. 

The administrators participating in the general session have worked closely with AASL over the past two years as part of the AASL School Leader Collaborative, an OverDrive-sponsored initiative championing the school librarian’s integral role in teaching, learning, and school culture. They are eager to share their insights with school librarians and their fellow administrators during this conversation that will elevate and empower the voice of the school librarian.

Conference attendees will be invited to submit questions prior to the event. Kathy Carroll and Kathryn Roots Lewis, AASL Past Presidents, will help guide the discussion.

Participating in the conversation are:

Session sponsored by Sora, by OverDrive Education

Sean Doherty

Sean Doherty

Superintendent (Retired), School District of Clayton, Missouri

April Grace

April Grace

Superintendent, Shawnee Public Schools, Oklahoma

Kelly Gustafson

Kelly Gustafson

Principal, Wexford Elementary School, Pennsylvania

Joel Hoag

Joel Hoag

Principal, Freedom Intermediate School, Tennessee

Kathy Carroll

Kathy Carroll

Lead Library Media Specialist, South Carolina

Kathryn Roots Lewis

Kathryn Roots Lewis

Retired Director of Libraries & Instructional Technology, Oklahoma

Author General Session

Saturday, October 23  |  8:00 a.m. – 8:50 a.m.


Kekla Magoon is the author of over a dozen novels and nonfiction books for young readers, including “The Season of Styx Malone,” “The Rock and the River,” and “The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall’s Life, Leadership, and Legacy.” Along with the 2021 Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honored her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens including “X: A Novel,” “How It Went Down,” and “Fire in the Streets,” Magoon has received the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, an NAACP Image Award, and three Coretta Scott King Honors, and she has been long listed for the National Book Award.

Kekla’s forthcoming book, “Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People,” places the Panthers in the proper context of Black American history, from the first arrival of enslaved people to the Black Lives Matter movement. The book invites readers grappling with injustice in the United States to learn from the Panthers’ history and courage and inspires them to take their own place in the ongoing fight for justice.

Appearance made possible by Candlewick Press.

Kekla Magoon


Closing General Session

Saturday, October 23  |  3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


You’ve come home to AASL and now it’s time to bring what you’ve learned home to your learners, school, and district. In this session Dr. Joe Sanchez and Dr. Jennifer Moore will facilitate an interactive discussion focusing on your key takeaways from the conference and guide you through a contemplative look at where school librarians and school libraries will go in the future. Drs. Sanchez and Moore will challenge attendees to think about how school librarians will continue to adapt to meet the current realities  – a century already identified by a shift to mobile computing, a new wave of civil rights movements, global youth culture, social distancing, and remote learning – and why we should care.

Dr. Joe Sanchez is a Professor of Library and Information Studies at Queens College and a founder of the iSchool Inclusion Institute, a program that prepares students from underrepresented populations for graduate study and careers in the information sciences. Dr. Sanchez earned his Ph.D. from the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin. His research is currently supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Dr. Jennifer Moore is a Professor in the College of Information at the University of North Texas. She is a faculty fellow in the ALA and Google joint project, Libraries Ready to Code, as well as an invited judge in the 2019 and 2020 Congressional App Challenge. Dr. Moore received her Ph.D. in Information Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her current projects, computational thinking in LIS curriculum and evidence-based practice in school libraries, are supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Dr. Joe Sanchez

Dr. Jennifer Moore