THE AISL Conference Experience
Unlike large-scale library conferences that offer multiple streams of sessions and attract large numbers of delegates, the advantage of the AISL conference is that it is small (usually 100 to 150 delegates) and it is deliberately designed to focus more on touring local independent schools and their libraries, networking with colleagues to share best practices, and participating in professional development sessions targeted to independent school libraries. The AISL conference is unique: it is the only North American conference geared specifically to the needs and interests of independent school librarians.
In an informal survey, delegates from past conferences cite the following experiences in their testimonials for attending an AISL conference:
- The value of experiencing a variety of junior or senior school libraries with a focus on literacy and reading at the heart of their library program
- Observing different pedagogical perspectives on the value and role of the library from Heads of various schools
- The atmosphere of collegial sharing and support that continues via the listserv and now, with the addition of a wiki to share documents, after the conference has ended
- Wonderment at how urban schools use and maximize space with ingenious innovations in architecture
- An emphasis on the arts, books and culture that is an inspiring change from business and technology
- Wonderful hospitality; informative workshops; thought-provoking keynote speakers and excellent programs.
In short, the conference serves to confirm that our own library initiatives and directions are on target and allows us to share best practices among institutions with similar missions and visions. There is an element of celebration in our shared profession and accomplishments.
A quote from a long-time AISL member who retired in 2010 says it best:
“This organization and all of you, past and present, has meant so much to me. AISL has made me a better professional and has enhanced my success in so many ways. There is no more collegial group and no more fun-loving group! To all who are new to AISL – stay with this group and become an active participant. You will get far more than you give.”
Director, Hope Memorial Library
Oak Knoll School,
Registration fees are approximately USD $300 and include most meals and all transportation to participating schools, tours, the Banquet & Skip Anthony Lecture, and other events.
Hosting an AISL Conference
Every year, an intrepid group of volunteer independent school librarians get together to form a conference committee. From this committee a truly wonderful event occurs: the Annual Conference. Our conferences have a distinctive format which reflects the informal nature of our organization. Each conference, in addition to offering speakers or demonstrations, showcases the educational and cultural resources of the area. Often workshops are “on wheels” for visits to schools, museums, and cultural events. There is time to talk and explore. The culmination of each conference is the Skip Anthony Memorial Lecture which honors the memory of the first editor of The Library Connection. Past speakers at the Skip Anthony dinner include Naomi Shihab Nye, Terry Kay, and Terry Gross. If you are interested in hosting a conference, please contact the AISL Board of Directors and include a rough outline of your planned conference.
Future Conference Venues: