March 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Empower Yourself to Meet Challenges Ahead | Editorial

Challenging times mean deeper responsibilities. We must step up with everything we’ve got to build community, foster equity, and develop a rich and resilient social fabric. I think about this as I navigate my own thoughts and feelings about recent news events. What is a federal shutdown to an eight-year-old? If the children you work with are anything like the kids in my life, events like these are disruptive—even frightening.

Keeping up with rapid change was the status quo, but disruptions such as these require renewed attention to core values and the skills needed to adhere to them in an unsettled environment. At SLJ, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to support you as the world changes, the challenges keep coming, and more and more is asked of you. We’re focused on helping you keep up with changing times.

For instance, as we started to explore topics and themes for this year’s SLJ Leadership Summit, to be held in our own backyard in Brooklyn, NY, October 27–28, we felt the responsibility to lean in, harder, to the problems our society is facing. How can librarians lead the way forward? There may be continued debate about libraries and “neutrality,” but we aren’t neutral about supporting children, creating an equitable and inclusive society, and helping you bring positive learning to your schools and libraries. All of this is library work.

So we landed on a theme, Own It! Making “Good Trouble,” with thanks to the inspiring Congressman John Lewis. We’ll be developing the program over the next months, spurred by the courage and creativity we see in the field as you keep putting kids’ needs first.

We’ll be connecting the dots to the work you do and the skills you need through the year, with our coverage and with online and in-person events to help you upskill to meet local and national challenges. This year, we are planning two Leadership Basecamps—in Seattle, May 5 and in Boston on August 7. These intensive daylong professional development events are designed to move you closer to your goals, and the leadership you want to provide.

Here at SLJ, we believe that everyone can be mentored, and everyone can be a mentor. We encourage learning at every level. The depth of skill we have witnessed in the field confirms that idea, and our events are designed to enable such interaction and sharing.

“We respect what everyone brings to our events, and everyone shows up with an eagerness to learn. No matter where you are in your career, the Summit and the Basecamp inspire people across the board,” says SLJ senior editor Daryl Grabarek, who contributes to Summit planning and is the mastermind behind the Basecamps. “Both the Summit and the Basecamps generate energy—there’s an openness and a sharing that is inspiring. However, the Basecamp offers an additional level of nuts-and-bolts practical learning essential to those who want to advance their game.”

This year, the Basecamps are designed to home in on our professional goals, Grabarek says, “then, as the day evolves, we’ll dig deeper into the practical aspects to achieve those goals. I hope attendees will depart with the know-how, network, and confidence to tackle the challenges that they see are the most pressing in their library and community.”

We’re aspiring to bring you the right combination of inspiration and how-to instruction to be effective—whatever comes. When we actively pursue the learning we need, we support our mission. Most importantly, we step up for the children we serve.


Rebecca T. Miller

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Rebecca T. Miller About Rebecca T. Miller

Rebecca T. Miller ( is Editorial Director, Library Journal and School Library Journal.



  1. Jennifer Sharp says:

    So excited to attend & learn at another SLJ Leadership Summit! Do attendees usually have access to a group rate for the summit host hotel, and if so, when/where will that information be published?

    Thank you so much!!

  2. “What is a federal shutdown to an eight-year-old?”
    Well, it’s nothing at all to them unless they have a histrionic adult scaring them about it.

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