School Library Journal Leadership Basecamp: Boston

Jump-start your 2019/2020 school year!

Join us for two impactful and inspirational days of professional development. Discount available when you attend both.

Leadership Basecamp, Monday, August 12 followed by our Diversity Workshop, Tuesday, August 13


Monday, August 12, 2019 | Registration opens at 8:30 AM | Program Ends 5:00 PM

Early Bird Rate - $163.30 (ends July 26) | Standard Rate - $204.12

Early Bird Two-Day Access Pass - $228.61 (ends July 26) | Standard Rate Two-Day Access Pass - $285.71


School Library Journal is excited to return to Simmons University in Boston this summer for our fifth Leadership Basecamp. Whether this is your first time attending or you have joined us before, our full day of professional development offers children’s and teen librarians an opportunity to build on their successes, develop skills to meet their goals, and accelerate their path to leadership.

Through keynote speeches, small-group sessions, and practical, hands-on workshops with industry professionals and subject matter experts, you’ll learn how to effectively engage with your community and beyond. Each Leadership Basecamp addresses topics fundamental to our profession, and features a new faculty of innovative educators.

Come and hear from library leaders and discover how to:

  • build an impactful library program
  • take the lead on technology
  • diversify your collection
  • create dynamic spaces
  • align with standards and school goals
  • develop strategic partnerships
  • promote news literacy and information equity
  • foster social and emotional development
  • design programming for special needs children
  • evaluate graphic novels for authentic representations

If you are ready to take the next step professionally, this program is for you.

A certificate of completion will be available totaling eight educational hours.



8:30 AM – 9:00 AM | Registration and Continental Breakfast (Linda K. Paresky Conference Center - LKP)

9:00 AM – 9:15 AM | Welcome and Introduction (LKP)
Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal
Em Claire Knowles, Assistant Dean for Academic Support, College of Organizational, Computational, and Information Sciences, Simmons University

9:15 AM – 9:45 AM | Keynote Presentation (LKP)
Michelle Luhtala, Library Department Chair, New Canaan High School (CT); Adjunct Instructor, Southern Connecticut State University; Professional Developer,

10:00 AM – 11:20 AM | Breakout Sessions — Round One 

Breakout 1: (2nd Floor, Classroom E209)
Real Talk: A Framework for Teen-Led Conversation Forums 
Presenter: Luke Kirkland
, Teen Specialist, Waltham Public Library (MA)

Founded by youth to discuss the issues that are important to them, Real Talk is a youth-led conversation forum that has become the centerpiece of programming at the Waltham Public Library Teen Room. Twice a month, four teen leaders guide their peers in activities that promote youth voice, encourage socioemotional learning, and develop an awareness of social justice issues in the community. Learn about the framework we created to sustain the work of our founders and to guide librarians in developing similar programs in their environments.

Breakout 2: (3rd Floor, Classroom C311)
Family Book Clubs as Spaces of Intergenerational Dialogue
Presenters: Monique Harris, Special Educator/Reading Specialist, Boston Public Schools (MA); Senior Partner, Still Harbor, Inc.; Nicholl Montgomery, PhD Candidate and Teaching Fellow, Boston College (MA)

Join us to learn about a family book club model offered in the Boston area featuring discussions of classic and contemporary middle grade titles by African American writers. We will discuss how to plan for, facilitate, and promote family and community book clubs, along with their benefits across generations, and some of the challenges. Participants will also have an opportunity to participate in a mock book club experience and consider how to use the activation activities, discussion questions, and related, wraparound book lists. Whether or not you have already launched or designed a family book club, you’ll walk away with lots of tips, ideas, and inspiration to plan your next event.

Breakout 3: (3rd Floor, Classroom E305)
Welcoming Kids on the Spectrum
Presenters: Maria Cotto
, Bilingual Children's Librarian, Pawtucket Public      Library (RI); Ashley Waring, Children’s Librarian, Reading Public Library (MA)

Welcoming and including children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental delays in our libraries is important work, and vital to our efforts to reach underserved populations. This session will provide tips and techniques to best support these children in a variety of programs and settings, including designing and delivering a sensory storytime for your community of library users. You’ll leave with ideas and resources (and some step-by-step instructions) that you can use to get started, or expand your existing programming. 

11:30 AM -12:00 PM | Author Stage: Jerry Craft, author of New Kid (HarperCollins)

12:00 PM -1:00 PM | Lunch (LKP)

1:00 PM – 1:45 PM |  Author Stage: Oge Mora, author of the 2019 Caldecott Honor book, Thank You, Omu!, and the forthcoming Saturday (Little, Brown), and Kevin Noble Maillard, author of the forthcoming Fry Bread (Roaring Brook/Macmillian) in conversation with Daryl Grabarek. 

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM | Breakout Sessions — Round Two 

Breakout 4: (1st Floor, Lecture Hall C103)
Teaching Skepticism Where Gullibility Thrives
Presenter: Michelle Luhtala, Library Department Chair, New Canaan High School (CT); Adjunct Instructor, Southern Connecticut State University; Professional Developer,

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ~ Voltaire.
“Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” ~ Albert Einstein

Students’ understanding of what constitutes news and how to consume it has radically changed in recent years. Research shows that this trend could threaten some of our most fundamental democratic principles. Brands and formats that once helped guide readers are effaced by social media, mobile delivery, and screen viewing. Generation Z has yet to develop the practice of reading news content with enough skepticism to evaluate its credibility effectively. In this session, Michelle Luhtala (a 2015 Library Journal Mover & Shaker) will share replicable lessons designed to help learners develop the skills they need to sift through news for truth.

Breakout 5: (1st Floor, Seminar Room C105)
Outreach and Collaboration
Presenter: Deborah Dutcher, Youth and Adult Services Consultant, NH State Library

Developing and promoting programs that build bridges are powerful advocacy tools and a sign of a future ready library. During this session we will discuss planning and managing partner programs and outreach, and review examples of some impactful collaborations across early learning environments, schools, communities, and government agencies. Come prepared to assess and explore where some of those partnerships may exist in your neighborhoods, towns, and cities. 

Breakout 6: (1st Floor, Classroom C106)
Reading the Visual and Verbal Critically: Intersectionality In Graphic Novels
Presenter: Dr. Laura M. Jimenez, Lecturer, Literacy Education, Boston University (MA); Wheelock College of Education & Human Development (MA)

The challenge of building and maintaining a rich, and culturally sustaining book collection, can be daunting. Graphic novels are especially more popular and “diverse” graphic novels seem to be everywhere. Publishers have realized that diverse literature sells. But, how do you evaluate graphic novels for authentic representations of mis-and under- represented identities? This workshop will walk you through the process of evaluating visual and verbal elements of graphic novels for diverse representations, and provide multiple resources for future use.

3:00 PM – 3:30 PM | Break and Refreshments (1st Floor, Common Grounds Cafe)

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM | Breakout Sessions — Round Three

Breakout 7: (1st Floor, Lecture Hall C103)
Essential Partnerships
Presenter: Amy Short, Library Director, Cambridge Public Schools (MA)

When parties come together to advance their mutual interests, anything is possible. Come and explore what can happen when you establish and nurture strategic partnerships in your school and district. This working session will help you determine strengths and opportunities within your library program and begin to formulate an advocacy plan that identifies and connects with shared goals and needs of administrators and key stakeholders.

Breakout 8: (1st Floor, Seminar Room C105)
Beyond Digital Citizenship: How to Prepare Young People for Life Online
Presenter: Michelle Ciccione, Technology Integration Specialist, Foxborough High School (MA); NAMLE Leadership Council; Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

The conversations we have with young people about our lives online too often remain superficial, irrelevant, or worse, are meant to frighten. This presentation will explore a more expansive, positive, and concrete approach to digital citizenship and digital literacy education that more accurately presents the Internet as a resource, not a threat. Let’s move beyond a “be kind” approach to digital citizenship and prepare young people for a powerful, productive, and informed online life. Activity and program ideas will be shared.

Breakout 9: (1st Floor, Classroom C106)
Reading the Visual and Verbal Critically: Intersectionality In Graphic Novels
Presenter: Dr. Laura M. Jimenez, Lecturer, Literacy Education, Boston University (MA); Wheelock College of Education & Human Development (MA)

Repeated session - please see Breakout Session 6 description

4:40 PM – 5:00 PM | #OwnVoices Guerilla Booktalks

Bring a one-minute book recommendation to share with conference colleagues during this lively, end-of-the-day thematic shoutout. 

Thank you to Simmons University for hosting today’s event, and to HarperCollins Publishers for their generous donation of copies of Jerry Craft’s New Kid for our event participants.

Keynote Speakers

Kathryn Belden

Jerry Craft is an author-illustrator who has worked on numerous picture books, graphic novels, and middle grade novels, including The Zero Degree Zombie Zone by Patrik Henry Bass. He is the creator of Mama’s Boyz, an award-wining syndicated comic strip. Craft has won five African American literary awards, and is the cofounder of the Schomburg Center’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival. He was born in Harlem and grew up in nearby Washington Heights. Craft is a graduate of The Fieldston School and received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts. He now lives in Connecticut. His 2019 graphic novel New Kid, published by HarperCollins, has already garnered numerous accolades including a School Library Journal star. You’ll find him @JerryCraft

Akilah Hughes

Keynoter Michelle Luhtala is the library department chair at New Canaan High School (CT) and has facilitated more than 90 edWebinars at since 2010. She has been recognized as an American Association of School Librarians Curriculum Champion, a 2015 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, and a New York Times “I Love My Librarian” recipient. Luhtala is coauthor of News Literacy: The Keys to Combating Fake News (Libraries Unlimited, 2018) and a contributing author to several publications. She teaches in the Master of Library and Information Science online program at Southern Connecticut State University. She blogs at, and can be found @mluhtala.

Brigid Kemmerer

Kevin Noble Maillard is a professor and journalist who lives with his family on the 13th floor of a 115-year-old bank in the heart of Manhattan. He is a regular writer for the New York Times, and has interviewed politicians, writers, tribal leaders, and even some movie stars. When he was 13 years old, Maillard won a fishing derby for catching 72 fish in two hours. Originally from Oklahoma, he is a member of the Seminole Nation, Mekusukey band. Fry Bread is Maillard’s debut picture book. Visit him at, and follow him @noblemaillard.

Oge Mora

Oge Mora graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Illustration. Her debut picture book, Thank You, Omu!, received a 2019 Caldecott Honor and recognition by School Library Journal as a 2018 Best Book of the Year. Thank You, Omu! was inspired by the strong female role models in Mora’s life. In Igboo, the Nigerian language of her parents, “omu” means “queen,” but growing up, it meant “Grandma” for the author/artist. When not painting in her studio, she is in the kitchen cooking her late grandmother’s recipes. Mora enjoys creating warm stories that celebrate community. Her second picture book, Saturday, will be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in October 2019. She invites you to visit her website at, and follow her @OgeMora.




Nefertiti Austin

Michelle Ciccone is passionate about digital literacy, media literacy, and digital citizenship. She is the Technology Integration Specialist at Foxborough High School in Massachusetts, serves on the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) Leadership Council, and works as a Research Assistant on the Youth and Media project at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Ciccone was awarded third place in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s (AEJMC) 2019 Best Practices in Teaching Media Literacy competition. Follow her @MMFCiccone

Kathryn Belden

As the Bilingual Children’s Librarian at the Pawtucket Public Library (RI), Maria Cotto focuses on programming and collection development for the Latinx community. She received her MLS from the University of Rhode Island where she was a Prism Scholar. In 2018, Cotto was awarded the “Outstanding Librarian of the Year” by the Rhode Island Library Association for advocacy and work with children with special needs, and actively assists other youth librarians in the state in developing similar programming for children. She was also instrumental in developing a support group to help youth librarians better serve families and expand their programming, outreach, partnerships, and resources.

Kathryn Belden

In her position as the Youth and Adult Services Consultant at the New Hampshire State Library, Deborah Dutcher provides advisory services to public and school libraries. She coordinates statewide literacy and family engagement library initiatives and develops continuing education workshops for librarians. Dutcher serves on state, regional, and national committees that foster development of library services to public and school libraries. She has worked in both public and school library settings, and is a past president of New England Library Association (NELA).


Daryl Grabarek is a Senior Editor at School Library Journal. Her responsibilities at SLJ include editor of the magazine’s monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its app column, Touch and Go. She currently serves on the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Orbis Pictus Nonfiction Committee. This is her fifth SLJ Leadership Basecamp! Follow her @dgrabarek

Kathryn Belden

Monique Harris graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and began her teaching career in the San Francisco Unified School District. She relocated to Boston, MA, in 2005 and taught in the Boston Public Schools as a middle and upper elementary teacher for 15 years. Harris attended Simmons College, earning a Master’s degree in Education and a Reading Specialist license. She participates in grassroots community work around literacy via family book clubs, and reviews children’s and young adult literature for The Horn Book magazine. You’ll find her @teachermo.

Kathryn Belden

In her role as a lecturer at Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, Laura M. Jiménez teaches courses on children’s literature that focus on both the reader and the text while employing an explicit intersectional lens. She encourages her students and others to read critically and widely. Her scholarship appears in The Reading Teacher, Journal of Lesbian Studies, Teaching and Teacher Education, and the Journal of Literacy Research. Jiménez’s public scholarship, including graphic novel reviews and social justice in children’s literature think pieces, can be found on her blog, You can also find her @BookToss.

Kathryn Belden

Luke Kirkland was a lifelong collector of books and music, but never thought a career in librarianship was in the cards. Instead, he attended bizarro great books school St. John's College, pursued a music career, and eventually found himself creating graphic design and marketing for the Cambridge (MA) Public Library. When he finally drank the public library Kool-Aid, he received his MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and discovered a passion for working with youth. Since 2015 Kirkland has worked to rebuild teen services and programs with the amazing teen community at the Waltham (MA) Public Library Teen Room, where the centerpiece of programming is a youth-led conversation forum called Real Talk. Follow Kirkland @lkrklnd and find a toolkit for building your own youth-led conversation groups at


Nicholl Montgomery is currently a PhD candidate and teaching fellow in the Curriculum and Instruction Department at Boston College where she teaches undergraduate and graduate literacy courses. Before attending Boston College, Montgomery taught middle and high school English in the Boston Public Schools. She is an active member of the Boston Network for Black Student Achievement Literacy Committee and plans and facilitates “It’s a Family Affair” book club at Frugal Bookstore in Boston with Monique Harris.  Follow her @nicholldenice.

Akilah Hughes

Amy Short is the Director for Library Media Services for Cambridge (MA) Public Schools. Her previous experience includes positions as the Director of Library Media Services for Boston Public Schools, a high school librarian in NY and MA, Reference Librarian at Boston Public Library, and Adjunct Library Media Instructor at Cambridge College (MA) and Antioch University (WA). Short has served in a variety of roles on the Executive Board of the Massachusetts School Library Association (MSLA) including Boston Area Director, Awards Co-chair, and Advocacy Co-chair. She  has been a MSLA delegate to the American Association of School Libraries (AASL) and the New England School Library Association (NELA); Secretary of AASL's Supervisor Section; and a Task Force Member of two AASL national committees. Short received the 2015 MSLA Service Award for her leadership and contributions to school libraries and library organizations at the state and national levels and the 2019 MSLA Peggy Hallisey Lifetime Achievement Award. Find her on Twitter @amyshort2.

Akilah Hughes

Ashley Waring is a children’s librarian with experience in library administration and management. In 2011, she developed a sensory story time program, and since then as presented on the topic at libraries and conferences around New England. She is an active ALSC member, and served on the 2017 Caldecott Committee. Waring has two sons; including a 14-year-old with Autistic is autistic. When she is not busy doing librarian or mom things, she enjoys trying new cocktails and playing tennis (although not at the same time). Follow her @ashcwaring.



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