Last week, 4 members of the Books on Bikes team, Mary Craig, Rebecca Flowers, Kellie Keyser, Katie Plunkett and our library supervisor Maria Lewis, headed to Columbus, Ohio to present at the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National Conference. Ever since our proposal was accepted months ago, we have been anticipating this exciting opportunity to share our program with the nation’s school librarians. We wanted other librarians to know what we do and encourage them to get out into their communities and help fill a need that their students have, whether it be literacy or something else.
Our trip started in Charlottesville with a flight to DC, then Columbus, OH. We arrived Thursday morning and attended the opening session with Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Executive Director of the Curriculum Mapping Institute and President of Curriculum Designers, Inc. She discussed the evolution of education and the role libraries play in this shift, including maker spaces, library environments, and getting students involved in creating digital media.

The exhibit hall opened after the general session and we could have spent all evening there. Publishers and vendors like to give librarians free books! Books on Bikes loves giving out free books too, but we also like getting them!

If you have never been to downtown Columbus, put it on your list. We found some wonderful restaurants and shops. There is also an amazing enclosed market called North Market where you can find a variety of restaurants, bakeries, delis, florists, coffee shops, and gifts. We ate well in Columbus.

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Friday, we attended various sessions related to libraries and went to author panels on early chapter books, illustration, and historical fiction. The exhibit hall was a must because, well, more free books! We had more delicious lunch and dinner and then got together to finalize our presentation.

Saturday morning, we were ready! Our session was at 8:40am so we got our needed coffee and breakfast and headed to our session room to set up for our presentation. Brian Selznik had just spoken and was having a book signing right outside our room. We had a small crowd, and they were excited. Some even told us they had been waiting the whole conference to see our presentation. We met librarians from all over the country that were interested in starting a literacy program like Books on Bikes. They asked us great questions and we were so thrilled that they came that everyone left with a Books on Bikes t-shirt! We hope to see Books on Bikes Wisconsin, Ohio, Alabama, and more coming soon!

The best part was, when one of our attendees told us that our session was her favorite of the whole conference! That was all it took to get us thinking about where we were going next!

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A big part of Books on Bikes is letting people know about what we are doing. Who better to tell than the authors that our students love to read! We met as many as we could and gave them each a Books on Bikes t-shirt and bookmark so they could find out more about us and tell others. Here they are, in order, Shannon Hale, Jon Klassen, Kenneth Oppel, Maggie Stiefvater, Nick Bruel, Sara Pennypacker, Gennifer Choldenko, Sophie Blackall, Kevin Henkes, Brian Selznick, Sonia Manzano, Tim Federle, and Matt de la Peña.

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We look forward to our program growing and spreading all over the country, all over the world! Thanks to Charlottesville City Schools for supporting Books on Bikes by funding our trip to Ohio!

Sunday morning we received a call that our flight home had been cancelled due to maintenance issues. There were no more flights that day so we quickly planned a Books on Bikes road trip in a rented minivan. With all the books we were bringing back, Books on Bikes finally had a bookmobile! Thanks for a great time Columbus and AASL!

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