SLJ Leadership Basecamp

Friday, May 3rd, 2019 | Registration opens at 8:30 AM | Program Ends 5:00 PM

School Library Journal‘s Leadership Basecamp, is a full-day, intensive professional development program designed to foster the next generation of school and youth librarians who are ready to accelerate their path to leadership, and want to upskill to meet their goals.

Through keynote speeches, small-group sessions, and practical, hands-on workshops, attendees will learn from current industry leaders and subject-matter experts how to enhance their skills, innovate in their own institutions, and more effectively engage and partner in their schools and beyond.

Participants work engage with a faculty of innovative education leaders who will explore topics ranging from building an impactful library program, taking the lead on tech, diversifying collections, creating dynamic spaces and information literacy programs, getting hands-on with maker spaces and gaming, aligning with standards and school goals, and more.

If you are you a new librarian or one that is ready to take the next step professionally, this program is for you.

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

Through keynote speeches, small-group sessions, and practical, hands-on workshops, attendees learn from current industry professionals and subject matter experts on how to enhance their skills, innovate in their own institutions, and more effectively engage with their communities and partners.


Work with a faculty of innovative education leaders to explore a range of topics including:

  • information privilege and equity
  • community engagement and strategic partnerships
  • unlearning to learn
  • establishing a culture of reading
  • becoming a library leader
  • diversifying your collections
  • building an impactful library program, and much more

Stay the next day for the one-day workshop, Cultural Literacy and Diversity for Librarians with the Two Day Access Pass.

Friday, May 3, 2019 

Archibald S. Alexander Library
Rutgers University 
169 College Avenue, 
New Brunswick, NJ 08901 


8:30 AM – 9:00 AM | Registration and Continental Breakfast (Lecture Hall Foyer)

9:00 AM – 9:15 AM | Welcome and Introduction (Lecture Hall)

Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal
Dr. Marie Radford, Chair and Professor, Department of Library and Information Science, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

9:15 AM – 10:00 AM | Keynote Presentation: “Why Is Rue ‘a Little Black Girl’?” 

Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, University of Pennsylvania and author of The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games (NYU)

10:15 AM – 11:15 AM | Breakout Sessions - Round 1

Breakout 1: Rock Your Elevator Pitch

Debra E. Kachel, Affiliate Faculty, Antioch University (WA) & Adjunct, McDaniel College (MD) 

Room: Lecture Hall

Advocacy begins with the ability to articulate our contributions to schools and communities. In this session, you’ll learn the importance of identifying and connecting with stakeholders who have the power to influence library staffing, budgets, and support. Using an elevator pitch template, you’ll learn how to approach those key individuals with a “hook,” articulate a concise position statement, embed convincing proof or evidence, and end with an “ask.” During the session, you’ll craft quick, targeted pitches that highlight your library’s unique contributions and share and refine them in small groups. 

Breakout 2: Leadership—It’s Not an Option 

Hilda Weisburg, author, speaker, and adjunct professor at William Paterson University, (NJ)

Room: IHL (413)

It’s a truism that “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you are likely to be on the menu.” Your library program and your contributions to it are indispensable. During this session, you’ll learn to identify and overcome barriers that have prevented you from expanding your influence or growing into a leadership role in your school or community.

Breakout 3: How Many Hats Does an Effective Leader Wear?

Cathi Fuhrman, President-elect, Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, Library Department Supervisor, Hempfield School District

Room: IHL (415)

Librarians have traditionally taken on many roles in their schools and communities. The best leaders are able to view decisions, challenges, and new initiatives from multiple perspectives. The Six Thinking Hats method, created by Edward de Bono, is a framework for groups to develop ideas or solve problems. During this session, you’ll participate in a parallel-thinking exercise designed to improve brainstorming sessions and achieve more effective outcomes.

11:30 AM – 12:00 PM | Keynote: Building and Living Safe Lives: Young People, Digital Well-being, and Digital Safety in a Global Information World (Lecture Hall)

Dr. Ross Todd, Rutgers University School of Communication and Information 

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM | Lunch

1:00 PM – 1:30 PM | Keynote: Equity, Four Stories and a Call To Action 

Dr. Joyce Valenza, Rutgers University School of Communication and Information 

1:35 PM – 2:35 PM | Breakout Sessions — Round 2

Breakout 4: Unlearning Librarianship + Developing a 21st-Century Research Mindset with Students and Faculty

Jenna Wolf, Director of Library + Technology Integration, the Cambridge School of Weston (MA)

Room: IHL (413)

Research happens all around us: in tactile forms, through traditional information-gathering tools, and even through Making. As these research models change and evolve, so, too, do the ways in which we teach students to be better researchers. This session will explore ways of engaging learners in multiple ways of research in order to facilitate a better understanding of materials, methods,  and authoritative thought. Through unlearning traditional modes of librarianship, librarians will aim to establish relationship-building as a research tool, a strategy that encourages students to seek out librarians in their future education. 

Breakout 5: Meaningful Connections: Weaving Library into the Fabric of Community

Tonya Garcia, Director, Long Branch Public Library (NJ), 2019 NJLA President-elect
Ciro Scardina, Library Media Specialist, Edward R. Murrow High School (NY) 

Room: IHL (415)

Staying relevant in changing times means meeting the evolving needs of patrons. Strong partnerships between the library and the community it serves are vital to this mission. In this session, a school and a public librarian (both Library Journal Movers & Shakers! [M&S]) will discuss successful programs and provide guidance on creating inroads with your community partners. 

Breakout 6: Teaching Skepticism Where Gullibility Thrives

Michelle Luhtala, New Canaan High School,; Southern Connecticut State University

Room: Lecture Hall

 “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 M&S) will share replicable lessons designed to help learners develop the skills they need to sift through the news for truth.

2:40 – 3:40 PM Breakout Sessions — Round 3

Breakout 7: Read Woke Levels Up

Cicely Lewis, Meadowcreek High School (GA)

Room: Lecture Hall

Join SLJ columnist, 2019 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, and YALSA award winner Cicely Lewis, who will talk about how her READ WOKE challenge changed the culture of reading at her school and its global impact. She’ll share how to structure an incentive-based reading promotion on a budget, ensure teacher buy-in, and gain community support. Librarians will leave this session brimming with programming ideas and empowered to shake things up in their reading communities.  

Breakout 8: Common Ground: School Libraries and Community Connections

Amy Gazaleh, Library Media Specialist, Hightstown High School (NJ) 

Kim Nelligan Zito, Library Media Specialist, Crossroads North Middle School (NJ)

Room: IHL (413)

Providing authentic learning experiences for students may require looking beyond library walls. Developing and promoting library programs that build bridges to the community are a sign of a future-ready library and are powerful advocacy tools. Participants will walk away from this session with ideas for programs and initiatives that they can implement the same day, the following week, or next year to create connections that bring the community into your library and your library into the community.

Breakout 9: Badges & Breakouts: Gamifying Library Instruction

Dr. Brenda Boyer, Kutztown Area School District (PA), Rutgers University School of Communication and Information 

Room: IHL (415)

As librarians work toward meeting AASL standards, they need to develop instruction that is personalized, engaging, and fun! Gamifying instruction is a great way to provide a differentiated approach to learning that encourages friendly competition while reinforcing and polishing research and inquiry skills. Join us to learn how information fluency can be gamified using a learning management system (LMS), microcredentials (badges), digital “escape rooms” or breakout boxes, and other tools.

3:40 PM – 4:00 PM | Break and Refreshments (Lecture Hall Foyer)

4:00 PM – 4:30 PM | Fast Learning

Doug Baldwin, “New Jersey Makers Day: Connecting and Impacting Communities Through STEM and Making” 
Tonya Garcia
Julie Guthrie, “Creating Global Connections” 

4:30 PM – 5:00 PM | Guerrilla Book Talks: READ WOKE 

Cicely Lewis and Rutgers LIS Graduate Students will lead a session of booktalks featuring titles that challenge a social norm, give voice to the voiceless, provide information about a disenfranchised group, or seek to challenge the status quo. Conference attendees are invited to bring their one-minute booktalks to share with the group.  


Keynote Speakers 

Ebony Thomas

Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas is an associate professor in the Literacy, Culture, and International Education Division at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. A former Detroit Public Schools teacher and National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, she was a member of the NCTE Cultivating New Voices Among Scholars of Color’s 2008–10 cohort, served on the NCTE Conference on English Education's Executive Committee from 2013 until 2017, and is the immediate past chair of the NCTE Standing Committee on Research. Currently, Dr. Thomas serves as coeditor of Research of the Teaching of English. Her most recent title, The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games, will be published by NYU Press in May 2019.

Ross Todd

Dr. Ross Todd is associate professor in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and is Director of the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL) at Rutgers University. Dr. Todd’s current teaching and research interests center on adolescent information seeking and use. His research focuses on understanding how children learn and build new knowledge from information, how school librarians and classroom teachers can more effectively empower student learning, and how the development of information and critical literacies lead to deep knowledge and deep understanding.  

Joyce Valenza

Dr. Joyce Valenza is a Milken Educator, a Google Certified Teacher, and a Library of Congress American Memory Fellow. She was selected as one of Technology and Learning’s 100@30 and was awarded an AASL/Highsmith research grant. Her Twitter chat, #tlchat, NeverEndingSearch blog, and online communities of practice have been honored with Edublogs Awards. Dr. Valenza received a Lifetime Achievement Edublogs Award, was named by The Teach 100 as a Top Educator Influencer on Twitter in 2016, and is a recipient of the IASL’s School Library Web Page of the Year Award. In addition, Dr. Valenza has won the Pennsylvania School Library Association’s Outstanding Program and Outstanding Contributor awards. She is an assistant professor on the faculty of Rutgers School of Communication and Information.


Doug Baldwin

Doug Baldwin is the head of technology at the Piscataway Public Library (NJ) and president of New Jersey Makers Day, a statewide event attended by 100,000-plus residents at more than 290 locations in 2018 alone. Baldwin was named a 2017 Library Journal Mover & Shaker in the area of advocacy for his work on the New Jersey Makers Day initiative and was a 2016 recipient of the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) Library Service Award. In addition, he currently serves as one of the New Jersey team leads for the national Leap into Science program designed to integrate “open-ended science activities with children’s books for young children and their families.”

Brenda Boyer

Dr. Brenda Boyer is a librarian and instructional designer. She has developed online instruction for secondary learners in the Kutztown School District (PA) and students and working professionals at Wilson College (PA) and Rutgers University. She currently teaches Learning Theory, Inquiry & Instructional Design (which she designed) at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information. Dr. Boyer is a frequent presenter at American Association of School Librarians (AASL) conferences and Internet@Schools. She has contributed articles to School Library Journal, Teacher Librarian, and School Library Connection.

Cathi Furman

Cathi Fuhrman, Ed. D., has been the library department supervisor for 20 years and a librarian for 25 years in the Hempfield School District (PA). As a department supervisor, Dr. Fuhrman is a member of the District Leadership Team, serves on the district’s Technology Task Force and the Professional Development Committee, and is a coadvisor of the Four Diamonds Mini-THON student organization. Dr. Fuhrman was a 2015/16 Lilead Fellow and is currently the president-elect of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association and cochair of the Local and State Advocacy Committee. She is an adjunct professor at Kutztown University. Follow her @cathi_fuhrman.

Tonya Garcia

Rutgers alumna Tonya Garcia is the current New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) president-elect and director of the Long Branch Public Library (NJ). Garcia credits real-life experiences as her motivation for creating nationally recognized initiatives such as the Virtual Career Center, Fresh Start Re-entry Program, Fade to Books Barbershop Literacy Project, and the Community Connects Social Work Initiative. Under her directorship, Long Branch was the first New Jersey library to hire a full-time social worker. Garcia was the 2016 NJLA Librarian of the Year and a 2017 Library Journal Mover & Shaker.

Amy Gazaleh

Amy Gazaleh, MLIS Rutgers 2010, is a library media specialist at Hightstown High School in Hightstown NJ.  She serves on the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) board and is a frequent presenter at NJASL conferences. Gazaleh is an adjunct professor at Rutgers School of Communication and Information and is cofounder of LitCamp/Team EdCamp. Follow her @afgazaleh.

Julia Guthrie

Julia Guthrie teaches fourth grade at Notre Dame Academy in Palisades Park, NJ. When not in the classroom, she enjoys her work as a co-organizer of #nErDcampNJ, a free unconference that supports literacy in the classroom and library. Guthrie is proud to be currently serving as New Jersey’s Non-Public Teacher of the Year. She was recently featured in the February 2019 School Library Journal article “NJ Teacher Creates Global Connections.” 

Debra E. Kachel

Debra E. Kachel teaches online graduate school library certification courses for Antioch University (WA) and McDaniel College (MA).  In addition, she chairs the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association’s Advocacy Committee, working with the state legislature to pass school librarian staffing requirements. Kachel has written and administered several state and federal grants and in 2014 was the recipient of American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Distinguished Service Award. She is a frequent presenter and writes the advocacy column for Teacher Librarian. Follow her @SchLibAdvocate.

Cecily Lewis

Cicely Lewis, aka the "Read Woke" librarian, promotes her passion for literacy at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, GA. She is a School Library Journal columnist and the recipient of the 2019 Margaret A. Edwards Award for Best Literature Program for Teens from the Young Adult Library Services Association (ALA). Lewis was recently named a 2019 Library Journal Mover & Shaker. Follow her @Cicelythegreat

Michelle Luthala

Michelle Luhtala is the library department chair at New Canaan High School (CT) and has facilitated more than 90 edWebinars at since 2010. Luhtala 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. She is coauthor of News Literacy: The Keys to Combating Fake News (Libraries Unlimited, 2018) and a contributing author to several publications. Luhtala teaches in the Master of Library and Information Science online program at Southern Connecticut State University. She blogs at Follow her @mluhtala.

Dr. Marie Radford, Chair and Professor, Department of Library and Information Science, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

Ciro Scardina

Ciro Scardina is a capeless superhero dedicated to fighting for social justice and shining the light of learning into the darkest recesses of educational spaces. Scardina believes that knowledge is power and is a strong advocate for public schools and literacy—both digital and analog. He is currently a library media specialist in Brooklyn. Scardina was a 2014 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and a 2014 recipient of the “I Love My Librarian Award.” He is a Fellow at the Academy for Teachers and an adjunct faculty member at the College of Staten Island. Scardina’s memberships include ALA, AASL, NYLA-SSL, METRO, and GLBTRT. When he is not teaching or writing, he can be found exploring the comedic elements of SnapChat videos, narrating literary voice-overs, or creating graphic arts. All in a day's work for a superhero.

Hilda Weisberg

Hilda Weisburg was a school librarian for more than 30 years and is now an author, speaker, and adjunct instructor at William Paterson University (NJ). In 2016, she received the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Distinguished Service Award. Weisburg has coauthored 14 books for school librarians, including four for ALA Editions, most recently Leading for School Librarians: There Is No Other Option (2017). She is a past president of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians and serves on American Library Association and AASL committees. Follow her @hildakw.

Jenna Wolf

Jenna Wolf is the director of Library + Technology Integration at the Cambridge School of Weston (MA). She has designed and implemented interdisciplinary projects, worked closely with faculty on curriculum design and project-based learning, and aided in initiatives such as coding across every discipline. As a citizen of Muscogee Creek Nation, she is deeply passionate about indigenous knowledge preservation in a library context, indigenous representation in young adult literature, and the #OwnVoices movement. Follow her @itsjennawolf.

Kim Zito

Kim Nelligan Zito, MLIS Rutgers 2001, has been the library media specialist at Crossroads North Middle School in New Brunswick (NJ) since 2001. She currently serves on the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) board and the South Brunswick Public Library Board of Trustees. Zito was selected as the Miss Rumphius Award winner in 2011 for her work with South Brunswick Reads. She is a frequent presenter at NJASL and is cofounder and host of LitCamp/Team Edcamp. Follow her @kimzito.




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