Greetings to you all, I am posting Jennifer’s blog about her impressions from the conference today. Enjoy and have a safe, restful and wonderful summer! Barbara
I have so enjoyed seeing the posts written by the other conference attendees—especially the Storify about the whole experience. Looking at those pictures and posts (some of them mine!), I have been able to relive and review the truly inspiring sessions (Libraries as Incubators! OMG makerspaces! Sofas covered in uniform fabric! ), the awesome venues (The Yacht Club! Sunken Gardens! The Ringling Estate!), and the new friendships I began (Mary! Kim! The Publix trip and the Bad Bananas!).
So it is perhaps surprising that I have been wrestling a bit with writing this blog post. Now it is the 11th hour, and I am using the deadline as my impetus to just go ahead and say what I’ve been thinking, and figure that if any of this truth is uncomfortable or “wrong,” then I can use that knowledge to grow.
Being an Independent School Librarian is different from being a public school librarian. And from what I can see so far, our conference is different, too.
A few years ago, my wonderful school had a campaign focused on sharing our appreciation for our teachers, our campus, our educational and extra-curricular programs. As a part of this effort, car magnets were distributed. They were large—I’d say about 6” x 8” at least—and they said “I Know the Difference.” (Did I mention that these magnets were Large?) Well, I had a really hard time putting that magnet on my car. In fact, I think I put it on my fridge instead. Even though I know we are different, in all the good ways, I couldn’t do it. It seemed too “Nanny Nanny Boo Boo,” if you know what I mean.
It’s the same with admitting that the AISL conference is different (okay, when I say different I mean better. There.). I said to many people while I was at conference, and afterwards, that this was the single most relevant and rewarding conference I have ever attended, and it truly was. Day after day I was presented with robust program ideas, solid research, and personal stories which directly related to my own professional situation and which were focused on creating high-quality, challenging and enriching programming for students. And although I know that all of us—private and public school alike—must be aware of the financial realities at our schools, connect with our constituents and advocate with our admins, that was not the primary focus of this conference, as it so often has been at the public-school level. It is a sad fact that when, year after year, public school librarians find it necessary to fight for their survival, the focus can easily become about survival at the expense of substance.
There, I said it. I have put the bumper sticker on my professional car: I Know the Difference. And it still makes me cringe a bit.
So where does that leave me? I am still a member of my local public school librarian’s organization, serving as the Special Public and Independent School liaison. Have I just betrayed all of those colleagues? I hope not. I have to believe that doesn’t have to be the end of it.
In this regard, the theme of our 2015 conference, Bridging Our Differences, was especially meaningful to me—particularly as a first-time attendee. I am so grateful to have found my professional organization, and I see the value it can add to my life both professionally and personally. My challenge now is to find ways to share that richness: with my students, my faculty, and my public library peers.