ALA Annual with Scholarship Winner Marian Royal: I Finally Made It!

Librarianship | Marian Royal| October 22, 2018

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Marian Royal is a Library Services and Instructional Materials Manager at Seattle Public Schools. She attended the 2018 ALA Annual Conference with the assistance of an ALA/EBSCO Scholarship.

Prior to June 2018, attending the ALA Annual Conference had long been a goal of mine. I had attended ISTE and AASL a few times each, but never made it to ALA. As a librarian of 30+ years, this just didn’t seem right! When I was elected Vice-President/President-elect of the New Mexico Library Association in 2017, meaning I would be President during the 2018 Annual, I saw my ultimate reason (excuse!) to attend ALA. And even more exciting, my proposal to present as part of a New Members Roundtable pre-conference had been accepted. I wasn’t just going to ALA, I was actually going to present! With a little help from the Association and from my employer, I could go to New Orleans in June 2018 and reap all the wonderful benefits of attending a national conference.

Then oil and gas revenues crashed in New Mexico. FY 2017 brought shrinking budgets and a forecast that the belt-tightening would continue, as well as a total moratorium on out-of-state travel funding by my district. Suddenly I found myself with the need to attend ALA and insufficient funding to do so – a serious dilemma. I had recently divorced and paying out-of-pocket was going to be an unmanageable hit to the pocketbook.

Fortunately, a notice about the EBSCO Conference Sponsorship for the ALA 2018 Annual Conference came through in an email about that time. I immediately applied, hoping that my ability as District Libraries Coordinator to bring back ideas and information to 136 school librarians, combined with my NMLA Presidency, would be a compelling reason to fund me. Time passed, big changes happened in my life and I eventually forgot that I had applied. So, I was doubly surprised and delighted when I was notified in March that I was a winner! I could hardly believe my good fortune. 

By the time I was notified of my winning status, I had accepted a new position with the Seattle Public Schools as the Library Services & Instructional Materials Manager. I would be starting my tenure there in April. Because I had the EBSCO Sponsorship, I was able to provide a compelling argument to my new boss that convinced him to give me professional leave only two months after onboarding and, even more generous, to purchase my airline ticket to New Orleans. Again, had it not been for this award, ALA 2018 would have slipped through my fingers.

A notice about the EBSCO Conference Sponsorship for the ALA 2018 Annual Conference came through in an email about that time. I immediately applied…

And what an exciting, informative and inspiring event ALA 2018 was for me! I began my conference spending a full half-day presenting to and talking with librarians about finding their authentic voice and facing the very real issue of Imposter Syndrome in the New Members Roundtable pre-conference workshop organized around the theme, “You Belong Here”. This was not only a high point of the conference for me, but a high point in my career.  After 30+ years as both an academic medical/hospital librarian and public school teacher librarian, it was a joy to encourage and support others struggling with how to bring their authentic selves to work. Many thanks to Madison Sullivan, Mandi Goodsett, and Dani Brecher Cook for that opportunity. 

Throughout the rest of the conference I attended inspiring presentations, most notably Michelle Obama’s fabulous keynote conversation, gathered new and exciting ideas to share with the 85+ librarians in the Seattle Public Schools, participated in formal and informal planning meetings and enjoyed the company of lots of friends, former colleagues and, best of all, my former boss and another colleague from my previous job. I came back with new viewpoints on using large print in school libraries, incorporating comic books into school library and literacy instruction and using street art to bridge the language barrier for English language learners (thank you Philip Lee of Readers to Eaters, June Jo and Man One!). And the networking opportunities for me at this conference exceeded anything I had previously experienced. Among other tangible benefits that resulted from my presence at this conference, I received an appointment to an AASL committee; which has also been a longtime goal for me. Overall, this conference experience was one of the very best and most beneficial of my long library career.

Participation in professional organizations and conferences is key to growing and remaining relevant as a librarian and a leader. This is something I always share with new teacher librarians when I’m giving orientations and trainings. Often, lack of money is the big obstruction preventing full participation. I am so grateful to EBSCO for not just seeing this need, but actively addressing it and making ALA conferences a reality for librarians every year.  Thank you, EBSCO, for making ALA 2018 happen for me. I truly couldn’t have done it without you!

Apply for the ALA Midwinter Scholarship

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Marian Royal
Library Services and Instructional Materials Manager, Seattle Public Schools

Marian Royal is the Library Services & Instructional Materials Manager for the Seattle Public Schools.  She previously served for over 20 years in various public school library roles in New Mexico.  Marian is passionate about libraries and reading and providing equitable access to great books and information for all students.

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