Wonder-ful Google?

While camping this past week, a last-minute trip for much-needed nature, I spent a lot of hikes revisiting a question that’s been in the back of my mind for years. The landscape around Ithaca is famous for gorges and waterfalls. Straight from the Visitors’ Bureau…

Truth in advertising

Because of some camper maintenance issues, this trip was being reimagined and rebooked with about ONE DAY’S notice. Like many librarians, I’m a planner. And like many librarians, I’m a savvy searcher. Between tourism websites, travel blogs, and review sites, you can know seemingly everything about a place before you lock the doors to leave your home. But how does that change your expectations about the experience?

My working theory is that it shifts the baseline of expectation. If I’ve researched a trail, or a campground, or a restaurant, and know in detail the terrain, view or most recommended dish, that expectation is now my baseline, leaving me less room for serendipitous discoveries. When instead, I only research the outlines – for instance so I don’t get caught without a place to stay over 4th of July weekend – my days feel more full of wonder. More wonderful? Instead of checking off a mental box that I completed the task I set out to do, I’m constantly asking myself what’s next — what’s over that hill or around that corner?

Rock City vs. Rock City

Scenario One: Hold a map in your hands and walk towards a dot listed “Rock City.” (And question whether you want to walk on the “Rattlesnake Trail” to get there…)
Scenario Two: Google AllTrails and see it has a 4.5 star rating from 158 people who have included 248 photos. Officially, “Rock City Trail is a 1.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Morgantown, West Virginia that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.” Begin reading or listening to hundreds of reviews. Know the exact moment you reach Rock City and where to take an iconic selfie.

Entrance to Rock City. Found sans Internet

This past year was draining on all of us. While we faced uncertainty about big-picture questions related to the virus and the United States, we also faced a lot of monotony in our day-to-day lives. While seated at my desk in the library, my fingers can access just about anything the Internet can provide. On slippery rocks, however, my focus is more immediately careful foot placement. This past week, I walked by waterfall after waterfall with little knowledge about which was more famous or tallest or featured in a movie (or that there was—surprise— another waterfall). And I had no cell service between the cliffside walls to get that information, so instead of staring at the screen in my hands, I broadened my view to the moss and eddies and rock striations. Just yesterday, the Gorge Trail led to the Bear Trail and the end of the park map. In real life, there was a sign for a lake. Which led to a picnic glen. A lake trail. A heron gliding over a marsh I hadn’t known was there a minute before. A question from the only other hiking group about whether this was a good place to swim. (Ummm…not sure I’m your girl for that info, but go for it if you want.) In-the-moment decision making about whether thunder indicated an imminent or distant storm.

Benefit of trails in glens and gorges is almost constant shade

A half line from Robert Frost kept popping into my head: “Yet knowing how way leads on to way.” Yes, I doubted I’d be back this way again. On this path. In this weather. In this mindset. In writing this, I remember that I had actually planned to start the aforementioned hike with the rim trail and end in the gorge and only switched because of an off-hand comment a few days previously about how waterfalls look bigger when you are looking up at them. The unexpected lake wouldn’t have been obvious if I had chosen that route.

“Yet knowing how way leads onto way,” how similar to my online life. Alltrails.com to weather.com to reserveamerica.com one day while other serpentine web searches might start on the same trail at Buttermilk Falls and end – in as much as searches ever end – with a search for the country where pancakes originated.

This scale is what I’ve been missing from my local trails

Since I usually have my phone at my fingertips, ready to answer any question I might ask, I forget how rejuvenating it can be to have time for unanswered questions. Long uninterrupted conversations that aren’t being fact-checked in real time. Learning to anticipate waterfalls because of the ways they affect all five senses, not because I’ve been following directions from a website. Most of the time, I love that the Internet provides an outlet for my curiosity and all the answers I could seek. But perhaps there is a corollary to more predictable travel planning in that novelty is harder to grasp, limiting awe.

Wherever you are this summer, I hope that you are getting what you need for a fall reset. After all the disruptions to the last school year, I’m counting on libraries being busier than ever as people appreciate being able to gather together in larger spaces again.

Why I *SOMETIMES* Pull Books

Past Me wrote this post just over a month ago while on spring break. This isn’t the first time where I’ve looked at Past Me and said, “Whoa—you have no idea what lies ahead.” (See accepting AISL presidency while a pandemic loomed on the horizon.)

On Friday, the day of RISE, the half-day senior research symposium I coordinate, I received this email from the teacher who leads the Global Issues project:

On Fri, Apr 30, 2021 at 9:33 AM Chris wrote: I know its cray cray time of year, maybe we streamline it a bit…Chalk it up to crazy Covid and us creating an internal conference but I’d love to pop up there next week Wed. Thursday to get the kids resources and then we can focus on writing and revision the last week before IQ.  If you can swing that let me know, if not, no judgment!  Just honestly let me know what you think you can swing.

Yes, it’s possible for an email to both induce panic and reduce stress. For all my Type A planning, he is as equally Go With The Flow. I found him and confirmed that I could lower my involvement this month and it wouldn’t be placed on my permanent record. Considering I’ve been involved with this project since this year’s seniors were sixth graders and I was doubly involved last year while virtual, why do I feel like I’m losing my library cred? He knows exactly what I normally teach and can supplement accordingly, and the students still have two days of classes in the library, the only two days the library is open to students between AP Spanish and senior exams. They’ll search together for digital resources, supplemented by books as feels natural based on our conversations about their topics.

I have talked with a lot of people this year about being our own harshest critics. In the AISL  Libraries IRL session, we focused on the difference between factors we can control and those we cannot. And mindset fits here as well. In addition to my general eagerness to pull books this time of year…

  • The school moved up graduation by a week since it will be outdoors, and we want to avoid the Florida heat as much as possible. (You are correct to sense a domino effect on the exam schedule…)
  • Virtual students will take exams on campus, one student supervised by one proctor, almost doubling the number of proctors needed. I’m expecting five sessions rather than two. (Could this optimistically mean 10 hours of quiet work time?)
  • I am Lead Advisor for the Class of 2021 and Baccalaureate speaker the following week. (Yes I have a draft of my speech, but I’m reminded it’s not where I want it to be. Proctoring revisions?)
  • I am getting on an airplane for the first time since 2019 to fly to Maryland for Mother’s Day, causing me to miss a day and a half of school when I’d usually be working with the 6th grade. (This is the ultimate seesaw of guilt and gratefulness based on what I’ve learned about my own values in the pandemic. Family is key.)
  • In brainstorming for this year’s Global Issues project this winter, we planned an all-day “Coping with COVID” conference in conjunction with the Health Department, our global sister schools, and all 6th grade subject teachers for this Wednesday! The students are going to be so much more prepared for research the following week after watching experts talk about COVID responses from a variety of perspectives, in a format that models our approach to organizing their papers. (So instead of feeling like a delinquent, why isn’t this accomplishment where I’m focusing my attention?)

And we now transition from an honest assessment about how I’m feeling this weekend, compared with my feelings the first week of April, a week I camped near the beach far from school. I need to remind myself that this year can be a reset, and the post below will better reflect what’s happening in my library May of 2022.

While I feel like I’m backing down, I have a new “Coping with COVID” conference and a day in the classroom this week, 2 days in the library next week, and access to files on Google Classroom. Even if it’s not embedded librarianship, it’s not nothing. Anyone have tips on being your own best friend and not your own toughest critic?


Earlier this spring, a colleague and I presented at a summit on Teaching Global Writers. I’m officially the librarian for grades 7-12, but we’ve developed a transition project for World Cultures that we teach to the sixth graders in May. As we brainstormed about how we wanted to organize our presentation, focusing on our values, our goals, and our process, we had a slide about “items to consider.” This could also have been called, “what you might be concerned about,” but hey, positive language. Obviously, time was number one – for him, me, and the class. Also practicalities like how much scaffolding to offer and how to best help 12 year olds build long-term independent time management skills. But, we had this conversation more than once:

Me: I have to mention I pull books.
Chris: It’s fine. No one will notice
Me: There’s a photo of it.
Chris: Will librarians even notice?

First question after our presentation: “How do you find the time to pull the books?” First, remember we’re a smaller school with a print collection under 20,000 and only about 60 students in the sixth grade. So the scope isn’t what you might be picturing. It actually goes pretty fast. I have a million colored sticky notes in a drawer. I assign each class a color and pull out a bunch of tabs and write a student’s name from the roster on each one. Since the project is on “global issues,” a lot of the books are located near each other. So that one endangered animals book might have four tabs at the top.  I have a strong spacial memory, and I can pull a fair number based on a general recollection of where I saw them last and the shape of the spine. Until restrictions on campus guests this year, I have benefitted from a few long-term parent volunteers who I trust with the task. When in doubt, they’ll pull a few or put an asterisk by a student’s name, greatly streamlining my time.

Stacks of global issues books

I’m posting this because I think that as independent school librarians, we all have procedures that might work well for our own school but not for others. This post isn’t a push for others to implement this practice. It’s actually an apology because in the presentation, I answered the how but not the why. And whys are important for figuring out if there’s a reason for the how.  Here’s why I pull books for our sixth graders.

  • This is their official introduction to me. We have one day in the classroom brainstorming project ideas, and then the students walk across campus for their first time in the Sunshine Library as budding “Middle School researchers.” They’re both excited and intimidated by that walk, and that when they arrive; there might be seniors at a neighboring table. This is my chance to make them feel a little more comfortable, an immediate sense of belonging. It’s also a pretty good introduction to me as a person who will help support their research in this project and for the next six years.
  • I present it as a present just for them. Here’s a gift to get your project launched. As with the previous point, it helps to make a good first impression.
  • Do you all work with sixth graders? I hadn’t before this project. I hadn’t even worked with Middle Schoolers before starting at Saint Stephen’s. Newsflash: they need more guidance than 9th graders! Their projects can address any global issue, meaning there’s a lot of variability. Chris and I are most productive in individual research consultations with each student, especially because many students choose topics that are personally very meaningful to them. This gives everyone somewhere to start gathering background knowledge as we talk with others.
  • By this point, you’re probably asking why I don’t have them search the catalog for their own books. This actually started because we had some turnover in the library a few years back. We had a few months without a librarian, and I wasn’t sure what was being taught or when.
    • Necessity is the mother of invention. But it’s continued because…
    • We have limited time to complete this project, and it’s basically organized on top of my daily schedule with the Middle and Upper divisions to be shoehorned into when I’m likely to be freest. This is generally when students are already reviewing for exams but before they take exams in the library. I could spend a day teaching the catalog, a skill some know and some don’t, or I could move them towards higher-level skills of source analysis. There are three days total for research before they move back to the classrooms (hello exam library!) to begin creating their paper.
    • Even when students know how to use the catalog, we have two libraries. Sixth and seventh grade materials are often interchangeable and could be found in either. We don’t allow students to cross campus without supervision, so this ensures the books are in one place ready to be used.
    • Students have chosen global issues ranging from endangered rhinos to ebola to teen depression. Needless to say, as a k-12 collection, some materials are better suited to sixth graders than others. For this project, I’d rather they have success with a book in their hands than choose a book for which they are not the intended audience. I find small successes build research confidence, which I’d argue is an essential research skill.
  • By having books in their hands within a minute of entering “their new library,” class time is spent on reading, thinking, note-taking, and analyzing. I do want to note, also, that we don’t require books for this assignment. This isn’t about giving them a place to start.
  • We try to complete the project during class time so the work is fully the student’s. The books move from the cart to the children’s hands and back again. I would like to have more accurate circulation numbers, and while I could just check out the entire collection to a “Grade 6” account, this is almost as fast and much more representative of collection use. In checking the books out, I’m getting a reminder of each student’s name and photograph.
  • Which brings me to what is probably the main reason this is worth it for me.
  • The sticky notes have their names! I love our school’s promise. “Every student is known and every student is valued.” I crisscross campus past their playground multiple times each day and I pop into Lower School classes. Even though they generally know my name, I don’t know these kids. I have yet to have a kid piece together that I know their name because of a sticky tab poking out from the top of their book rather than because I actually know them. Virtually, Google Docs and Google Classroom is also a savior for this.
Pre-pandemic research time

In foreshadowing for a future post, I will share that I am not the person you should ask about work-life balance. I frequently stay late, and I have trouble moving to “non-work” mode even when I’m home. Taking my email off my phone was an incredibly smart decision for me. But this hasn’t been something that’s taken a lot of time, and I’ve noticed a lot of benefits.

Does this ring any bells? Is there anything that someone new to your library might be surprised you do? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

What’s an Information Professional Anyway?

Later this month, the board will share some demographic results from this winter’s planning survey. Thank you to the members who took the time to share their thoughts, especially those who wrote about what AISL has meant to them and how it can stay professionally relevant in coming years. One of the questions elicited an interesting conversation at my school about titles. Teacher titles are more standardized across schools, administrator titles less so. Librarian titles, the least of all. Do titles matter? What do we learn from titles?

In tabulating survey responses to this question, there were 91 unique responses, even with combining some titles like Middle School and Middle Division Librarian into one response. There were 47 different supervisory titles!

AISL supervisory titles

Those outside our profession tend not to understand why we care about being named a Librarian over Media Specialist, or Media Generalist over Library Specialist. My own director calls me Director of Libraries though I prefer the streamlined Library Director that’s listed on my nametag.

More AISL member titles

Perhaps this is the first part of our advocacy outside of the profession, an advocacy that’s so clearly needed about the training an MLIS offers and the ways that a strong library curriculum can enhance the mission of a school. Those who are virtual indicated that it’s become clearer in the absence of physical facilities that many administrators think of libraries more as static places for student supervision and book circulation rather than dynamic instructional and technology leaders.

Thinking back to the high school I attended as well as the one where I work, a teacher who is told they are teaching Geometry or Spanish One has a pretty good sense of what to expect. With changes in education over the past twenty-five years, this is less true for course like Engineering or American Literature, though many goals are still the same. But how similar are the roles of Instructional Librarian, School Librarian, and Teacher Librarian? And let’s tread carefully into speculating the job responsibilities of the Director of Library and Technology Integration, the Director of Libraries and Strategic Research and the 21st Century Learning Coordinator.

Current NAIS postings

One of the other survey questions asked what your administration would say based on their own knowledge if asked to choose the top three roles the library plays in the school. The top three answers provided by members were “collection management,” “reading advocacy and support,” and “student instruction.” That’s a positive statement about their understanding of the library, though it’s less heartening that fewer members chose “faculty instruction” than “I don’t think they have a sense of what the library does.” Even in informal settings, educating faculty and keeping them up-to-date on new trends is incredibly important in the library.

I was curious about this in my own school. While planning this post, I asked my Division Director and Academic Dean to choose three based on their knowledge of my job. I’m happy that each of them chose two of the ones I had chosen for myself.

Member responses about administrative knowledge of library roles

(For those keeping track, I’d say: Student Instruction, Faculty Instruction, and Technology Support. They said respectively – Student Instruction, Reading Advocacy and Instruction, and Technology Support – and – Student Instruction, Student Supervision, and Faculty Instruction. I’ll take it, especially since they both immediately listed Student Instruction as the top priority.)

In thoughts on advocacy, the plethora of titles got me thinking about a longer plan to collate expectations in job descriptions and share this with the larger educational community. From listserv queries and casual conversations, we’ve all had the sense that what library means at one school doesn’t correlate with its meaning at another. Even basic data collection shows there is no independent school consensus that defines our profession. I’m not suggesting that the job expectations should be standardized, just that we —and our schools —need to understand the variance about what happens in the library.

Sidenote: Whoever decided that librarians should be called school library media specialists must have had the most effective PR campaign ever! Even though AASL decided to revert to the title school librarian eleven years ago in 2010, I still have people (generally older) apologize each month for using the outdated term librarian and not media specialist.

Stay tuned for more detailed survey information and feel free to share if you have any thoughts on your job title or the expectation for the library’s role at your school.

Survey and Future Planning for AISL

Hindsight is indeed finally 2020. Happy 2021! (I didn’t even make it to 10pm but did watch Sweet Home Alabama in pajamas with my mom and the dog. Please confirm that I’m not the only person who spent the last 20 years thinking Matthew McConoughey was the Southern husband.)

Meet Wolfgang. He loves laps.

Many members have already seen the email on the 1st about the board’s strategic planning survey. Basically:

Every five years, the board asks members to complete a survey that will guide us in our planning for the future. This survey is organized around the categories of demographics, position information, professional development, and ideas for the future. We will be sharing aggregated statistics related to questions about variances in librarian roles and position expectations to the listserv this spring, and we are going to review your experiences with past professional development and hopes for the future so AISL can continue to be a valuable resource for members.

Every September when renewals are due, the board declares the $30 membership fee the best professional deal around, and this year’s half day virtual conference will be an included member benefit as a thank you for your support and dedication to the profession during the challenges of 2020. If I needed a reminder that librarians are phenomenal, I sent the survey email at 5pm on Friday, New Year’s Day, and by Monday morning we already had over 60 responses! Can I say holiday weekend? Thank you to those who have already provided their feedback, and for those who haven’t yet done so, it can be found through February 1st on the AISL website once you’ve logged in with your account.

The remainder of this post will relate to three specific survey questions I’ve been mulling over throughout the design process.

Most Helpful Professional Development this Year

The “right book at the right time for the right child” cliché corresponds perfectly to my thoughts about this year’s professional development. My most fun professional development was certainly the AISL Zoom sessions. AISL members are my friends and my global support network. I don’t think I’ve yet asked a question that didn’t get a thoughtful response. But that doesn’t feel like it answers the question the survey asked about what was most helpful this year. I spent a lot of time listening to webinars for administrators, specifically the ones through the virtual school One Schoolhouse. Throughout my career, I’ve been part of multiple conversations where librarians lament that administrators don’t understand (*best case) or appreciate (*worst case) the role of the library. This groups discussion topics included admissions, standardized testing, accreditation requirements, finances, safety protocols, scope of the school’s reach, parent communication, mission alignment, and yes, also curriculum. Librarians balance a lot within our libraries, but we generally don’t have to think through all the details of running a school. None of the presenters seemed to have come to administration through the path of librarianship. As they, like us, balanced their “new normal,” there were plenty of logistical hurdles, and libraries, specifically well-run libraries, weren’t on the top of their minds. I’ll continue to think about advocacy, as I don’t have answers yet, but I found it incredibly helpful to hear directly from administrators about what’s on their minds when they talk to each other. This isn’t an opportunity I would have had – or sought out – in other years, but it’s one that was impactful.

Identify Your Strengths as a Leader

As president of this organization, perhaps I should feel qualified to quickly check some of the boxes where I self identify as a leader. This is simply asking for a self assessment. No one is going to question the check marks. Heck, only the AISL board will even see the results! Yet my self identification falls more to the girl hugging a dog in the photo and less towards my linkedin profile. Is this related to age? Gender? The way I was raised? This is another paragraph ending without definitive answers, but if you’re someone who experienced the same hesitation, you’re not alone.

Is there an AISL member you admire?

Yes! Too many to name in the survey and too many to name here. For members who have attended conferences, the friendships made during those days together are what cemented AISL’s value. And this is a year that lets us connect more frequently and easily, but only mediated by computer screens. It’s not the same.

Lunch at the Key School in Maryland, 2013

Last week, I read The Drunkard’s Walk by Leonard Mlodinow about the effects of randomness on our lives. (Case in point: an alum brought a friend to an Academic Team meet where she was reading a book with a cool cover. Based on that cover, I read Subliminal and wanted to read Mlodinow’s other work. I mentioned it to my dad over the holidays, and he happened to have a copy given to him by my father in law back in 2008. Random…) Which is to say that I ended up as a librarian in Florida in 2007, never imagining I would settle in the state. I was introduced that fall to our regional BAAIS group and CD McLean. At the time, CD was a board member of AISL and encouraged all the Tampa Bay Librarians to join the group. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t until 2013. That’s the year the conference was being held in my hometown of Baltimore, the same week as my college reunion, giving me almost a week to hang out with my parents and college friends. I still remember calling CD and asking why I should pay for a hotel when I could borrow a car and drive 45 minutes into the city each day. Yet from that first bus ride and breakfast at St. Paul’s school, it was obvious what I had been missing without AISL. CD encouraged me to get more involved, and she’s always taken the time to problem solve with me when I’m stressed at work. Among many other librarians, thank you CD.

If you filled out the survey and have a librarian you admire, I’d encourage you to reach out directly and let them know. This has been a tough year. It can feel a bit vulnerable, but can you think of a time when those affirmations wouldn’t have been appreciated in your own life? Little actions, random though they might seem, can make a difference.

Team AISL Tampa Bay Area. 2015

I wish everyone a smooth semester two no matter how you’re returning. I’ve been talking throughout the fall with some of the department chairs about how we don’t want to be told to care less, even when we’re complaining and stressed. We’re in this profession because we care about our students, and they are experiencing this pandemic in a way that is likely much more distinctive to their schooling experience than it is to ours. How can we care strategically about our students, our libraries and ourselves? The answer to that is unique to each of us, and I hope it’s something you can find as we begin 2021.

Cat Mummies, Scary Stories, and Facing Uncertainty

2020 has compressed and stretched time in ways that none of us anticipated. Which is to start this post by admitting that in 2020 I hung Christmas lights on our porch Sunday, the first day of the time change and 5:45pm sunset. And I’m writing this under those lights thirty minutes before polls close in Florida, a half block from my polling place at the local gardening club.

Let’s make November festive….

It’s hard to believe it’s been two months since my last Sunshine post, meaning we are now a third of the way through the school year, and yet this post still feels relevant to my day-to-day emotions. I’ve been continuing to note what feels familiar and what feels new, what I want to be an aberration and what I hope continues in future years. As a surprising upside, I feel like my students now understand primary sources viscerally in a way they hadn’t before. We’ve been talking about stating predictions for the election. They know they can’t speak knowledgeably yet, but within the next few days, they won’t be able to keep from knowing the result. In terms of thinking about primary sources presenting someone’s experiences in the moment, rather than after the fact, this has been a non-partisan way of tying the elections to their classes. Primary sources aren’t thusly named because they’re the best but because they capture a moment and all the emotion and uncertainty that entails. Emotion and uncertainty are definitely words that resonate with me now, especially as I’m already seeing the ways that I’m compartmentalizing and contextualizing my stay-at-home spring compared with tonight’s in-the-moment feelings.

7th grade provides another example. After the success of Alan Gratz’s Refugee as a 2018 Global Read Aloud, our 7th grade English teacher decided to read his Ban this Book to her classes this fall. She starts every class by reading for 10 minutes. Even better, this year, every Friday is entirely devoted to reading. The students either read individually, visit the library for new books, or give book talks to their peers! I’ve seen third through seventh grade as the range for Ban this Book; with older students, it catalyzed the conversation before an anti-censorship project during Banned Books Week. Their naiveté was endearing as they interviewed me for PSAs and podcasts. One repeated theme was questioning Bridge to Terabithia and why parents would want to ban a book because it was sad. This prompted the teacher to remember Jacqueline Wilson’s Cat Mummy from when she lived in England. She left it on my desk on Friday. Per the back of the book, it’s also recommended for ages 8 and up.

That illustration of Mabel the cat says it all.

I work with middle and high school students, but I feel fairly confident this book wouldn’t be a best seller for American elementary school students. I loved it, and I’m trying to think how to incorporate into an Upper School storytelling elective since it covers death and grief with empathy, honesty, and humor in a way that’s quickly accessible. I loved it, but reading it hurt my stomach. I was on the verge of tears multiple times. I loved it, and I wouldn’t recommend it to my friends parenting eight year olds. To spoil the plot, “Verity adores her cat, Mabel, and is desperately sad when she dies. Remembering her recent school lessons about the Ancient Egyptians, Verity decides to mummify Mabel and keep her hidden. Verity’s dad and grandparents can’t bear to talk about death, having lost Verity’s mum several years ago – but when they eventually discover what Verity has done, the whole family realizes it’s time to talk.”

As a result of the interviews for the banned books project, I was texting with friends about book challenges. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was referenced as one that one mom was fine to have in the library but not in her child’s hands. Cue Halloween chills! That book woke me in terror! Librarians reading this who are close in age to me are probably recalling their own nightmares. Yet, the books were always checked out of my school’s library, and I myself read them more than once. Santa brought my brother the anthology because it was a book he actually wanted to read. That book was on the edge of many kids’ comfort zones. I know now to be cautious with the horror genre because my vivid imagination preys on disturbing images. That’s an important lesson, and we often learn more when we’re uncomfortable than when we’re feeling secure. (If you want to fall down a virtual rabbit hole like I did last month, did you know they changed the illustrations to make them less scary? And the backlash meant that it was republished with the original drawings?)

Because librarians and editors can’t help but text about books…

I am a librarian partly because I loved reading as a child. I read widely then, and I still try to pursue a variety of genres and authors. We teach others about the metaphor of books as doors and windows, and reading widens our understanding of the world we share and the values we hold. No matter what happens with the election, a portion of this country is going to feel marginalized and misunderstood. The ultimate election results, however, are out of our individual control. So is COVID’s spread across the country. Switching the clocks back an hour this past weekend. Whether our schools are currently virtual.  Books might make us smile or they might make us cry; they might give us nightmares or they might make us forget a bad day. But no matter the specific response, books let us experience emotion at a distance, in patterns proscribed by authors and shared with other readers. As technology increases, our society has become less comfortable with uncertainty. Google, Siri, and even user-review sites like Yelp mean that many people expect their devices to answer their questions immediately. We’re less accustomed to managing our anxieties when we can’t predict our surroundings, anything from the most recommended dish at a restaurant to presidential results. 2020 has taught us that life can be anything but certain.

This isn’t a post with answers, but one about being more comfortable with what makes us uncomfortable. Books might do that, and so might life. I’m already thinking about talking with my senior advisees tomorrow, many of whom cast their first vote in this so-called unprecedented election. One quiet thoughtful student stayed after advisory yesterday because of that term. She’s 17 now and was 13 in the last election. She has been asking her parents what that means, and they encouraged her to talk to others about why this year feels different to adults. Considering this is the oldest grade in our school, her questions have stuck with me and they’re still on my mind. This is generational change in action! We can’t help experiencing events as ourselves, at specific periods in our lives. Remember the election in which you cast your first vote, the candidates and the experience of adulthood?

I voted. And yes this was my bike ride to the library where I voted last week.

If there are conversations happening in your school that would have been unprecedented before this year or something that has been a surprisingly positive change, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Otherwise, I’m most interested in the books of your youth that riled you up and if you’d recommend them to others today. Scary Stories, complete with its original terrifying drawings, still gets two nail-bitten thumbs up from me.

What does “Sunshine” mean anyway?

Our school year started in person on August 19th, with safety protocols in place for those on campus and a virtual option for students unable to return physically. I’m loving the conversations I’m part of in the library and the hallways. Even though those interactions are much more limited than previous years, they were largely non-existent this spring. I’ve also noticed that masks seem to operate for many like a costume, something that frees people to speak more openly, to move quickly towards deeper and more personal conversations. Or maybe after 6 months interacting mainly with those in our households, we’ve simply lost the habit of small talk? I’ve always joked that there’s no routine to a library day, but last spring made it obvious that there’s a routine to a library year, and certain “interruptions” are actually “expectations” built into my understanding of what days are like for librarians. I’m surprised at how much I like being back; I was pretty trepidatious in early August. That said, I feel like I can’t turn off the fog and fragmentation that entered my mind while working from home. Much of the joy and exploration that bring meaning to my work feel muted. I can’t focus enough to trim the number of open tabs (or should I just call them uncompleted tasks?) in Chrome, clean out my inbox, or even respond to messages in the AISL listserv. (As they build, know many of you may be getting out-of-date responses soon, to the queries that intrigued me most, when I reach that Neverland state of “back to normal” or “caught up.”) Even choosing a topic to write about today felt overwhelming, rather than invigorating. But, like all independent school librarians and their clichéd many hats, my school knows me not only in the library, but also as Academic Team coach, lead advisor, Honor Council faculty rep, and relevant here, Sunshine Committee Co-chair.

Some high school musical lyrics for your enjoyment

Most of your schools probably have something similar, but our short tagline for new faculty is “Sunshine is celebration in good times and comfort when times are tough.” We send cards for events like weddings and condolences, plan Secret Santa, organize potlucks, and, well, pretty much everything else that comes to mind also involves camaraderie through food. Who doesn’t like food? COVID. Or to be more accurate, it doesn’t like people sharing tables unmasked. So we’ve been trying to think creatively about how to make people feel valued authentically during a period when we’re all feeling overwhelmed, a period when even if there was more time in our schedules, we’re discouraged from most social interactions.

It’s easy to lose a sense of time…but not a love of Alice in Wonderland.

Cue Disney – Disney has some enticing offers for Florida residents to buy seasonal memberships, something my family has done in past years. As a northern transplant, I still haven’t lost the thrill that I can leave work late on a Friday afternoon and be standing in the World Showcase of Epcot before dinner that night. Of the many websites I regularly visit is one that posts Disney updates, historical trivia, and stories of interest to the bloggers on the site. Chris Barry’s Top Five Cast Member Moments post stuck in my head because of 3 and 4 specifically. People non-ironically use the term “Disney magic” to describe vacationing there. In the article, Chris describes five moments where cast members exceeded his expectations and delighted him. The five share some characteristics. They’re surprising, not something he had been anticipating. They’re personal, related to his family and the effects on them. They’re detail oriented, noticing and responding to the moment.

Per Chris, “Not only do they (cast members) make us feel special, they go above and beyond to do so and they make it look easy. They’re probably underpaid and overworked but I like to think that the ones that really turn on the Disney magic do so because they believe in what the place stands for; that you should feel different when you pass through those arches and it’s their job to facilitate that.” Per me: Why is this exclusive to Disney? How can we bring this magic to our own schools, whether in the library, as a sponsor of a club, or through something like Sunshine?

Eagle-eyed readers from FL and CA might note these images are both from Disneyland, not Disney World.

I reached out to some teachers who I trusted to think seriously and creatively about what would make their days brighter. We’re a small faculty, one that really does enjoy each other’s company. Even with how busy people are, especially with virtual learning and a new block schedule, every teacher I asked took the time to respond. I laughed at answers that ranged from hosting after-hours Zoom happy hours to banning after-hours Zoom happy hours, from posting inspirational teacher posters to placing sarcastic teacher memes in mailboxes. But one, from a Classicist who’s brilliant and purposeful in all his actions, stood out. If I were to describe a colleague as having gravitas, it would be him.

“Some time ago you asked me what might be something that Sunshine Committee could do to brighten up people’s day.  Of course I ruminated on it for some time. My answer is flowers.  Flowers are a thing of beauty that can lift spirits in an inexpressible way. Maybe if they were out here and there in the school (in the commons for chapel, in the Library for faculty meetings, etc?) on occasion it may make some difference.  Or even a random teacher. Random chance can raise spirits in a strange way.”

What a final line. This is not a teacher I would have thought would have noticed flowers in the library. Random chance can raise spirits in a strange way. But how true. How lovely. When I was in high school, after reading The Catcher in the Rye for English class, I sought out and devoured the rest of his oeuvre on my lifeguarding breaks. In Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter, Seymour claims, “I’m a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.” I wrote this quotation in notebooks and pinned it to my bedroom wall. If there’s a value underpinning my work, I want to be the person plotting others’ happiness.

My handwriting has improved over the years, but the full quotation is worth reading.

But this isn’t just true for faculty. We might currently be stressed, unhappy, and critical of our own performance, but we’ve done this before. Except for those retiring in 2021, we’ll do it again. Career trajectories have peaks and valleys, and most of us are in a valley. Random chance in the form of a chocolate bar, a thoughtful note, or taking the time to listen to someone vent might brighten a day, might make it easier to get to the weekend and hit reset for another week of simultaneous instruction, mask fatigue, and worry about testing results. This is an anomaly. This better be an anomaly. But given the growth that happens each year for students, they’re experiencing this once. Student’s peaks and valleys are on a yearly cycle. A terrible 5th grade year isn’t buoyed by an amazing 7th grade experience. New 9th graders who don’t get to meet and bond with their classmates at an orientation retreat can’t recreate that experience as 10th graders who’ve known each other for twelve months. The experience of last year’s 12th graders, who lived seven months of senior year normally, leaving campus for lunch, having spectators at sports games, and building a Spirit Week float, is in no way analogous to this year’s 12th graders, who may end up with a graduation ceremony, but who are currently living a Spartan senior fall.

SSES Surprise Snack Day for the Class of 2021

Without candies, without puzzles, without after school hours, how can the library bring Sunshine to their days? My baseline is not letting the library be sidelined in this crisis, but I want the library to be something that actively makes their day better. This list is incomplete and almost embarrassingly small, but it’s not for lack of thought. I try to stand in the hall outside the library and say hello between passing periods. When I see students printing annotated bibliographies, I offer to review on the spot for simple fixes like double spacing and alphabetical order. I write to the advisor when I oversee someone doing something nice like helping with recycling. I listen to students complain about the year when they’re standing at the copier, and I empathize with their sense of loss.  I never end classes with the make sure to push in your chairs lecture but thank them for using the library. I meet with seniors about their common app essays and talk about what they want to convey. I think endlessly about my senior advisory and new privileges we could design for them. Yesterday, they all received a prepackaged cookie on the 21st to celebrate the Class of 21. It’s insufficient, but it’s something. As someone who doesn’t grade them, as one of the few faculty members who has worked with them since 7th grade, I can give them my time, I can give them my attention. ­­Because this year doesn’t look the same for them and it’s the only time they’re experiencing what it’s like to be a 7th grader, a 10th grader, a 12th grader. Even if I only hold steady this year with our research curriculum, I can build on any missing academic pieces next year when it’s the same me with a new grade of them. Which is all to say that I’m trying and it has to be enough and it doesn’t feel like enough.

Word of the day is sprezzatura

I imagine I’m not the only blogger who plans and drafts ahead of the deadline. I have debated completely revising today’s post, which I wrote early last month. I decided I’m not going to do that. That said, in rereading what I wrote, the me of 6 weeks ago is not the me of today. First off, I had a library I biked to every morning and a routine that included chapels and senior speeches. How quotidian that was then, and how foreign that feels now. We have no clue when we are returning to school or the lasting impact COVID-19 will leave on our schools, our country, and the world. In happier news, I had totally forgotten even applying for the grant. More seriously, we’ve gone 180 degrees on mental health, from worry about kids who had scheduled 28 hours of activities, jobs, courses, and test prep into a 24 hour day to worry about those same teens sitting in their houses on screens for at least a month nonstop.

But I think the topic of the post, avoiding sprezzatura, is more important now than ever before. I am so proud to be a leader of AISL, and I have been so impressed with the ways that AISL members have stepped up to help each other and their schools over the past few weeks! THANK YOU for creating libguides, sharing resources, and asking the questions that are allowing us to successfully move our libraries virtual without much time to plan. It is obvious that you care about your students, your teachers, and the field of librarianship. I will say personally that I’m having a lot of difficulty with work-life balance, simply because I care so much and it feels good to do something. And there’s no physical reminder that I’m not at work. All the time. I wanted to share that because I sense from our continued conversations that I’m not the only one feeling overwhelmed. I am really proud of the board, and especially our Tech Coordinator Claire Hazzard, for quickly pulling together the Zoom chats. I was surprised at how quickly I smiled as I tuned into the first one and saw so many faces I recognized, offering support and providing connection. We plan to continue these for at least the next week or two, or as long as members find them helpful. After a meeting yesterday, my teacher husband said, “it’s like we’re all first year teachers again.” We care a lot, we’re working really hard, and we still have a lot to learn. And we are definitely better as a result of the collaborative nature of AISL. Here’s the original post:

————————-

Hi, I’m Christina Pommer, AISL President and relentless perfectionist. (Am I writing this at 7:30pm on a Friday night as a “break” from reading student essays? Yes, yes I am.) Unfortunately, I’m also a bad perfectionist.

All of our seniors have to give a chapel speech that shares something of importance to them with the school community, and I have a running list of topics and partially-written speeches that will never be given because the message would be lost in my terror of speaking into a microphone.

In January, Gus gave one of the most meaningful and memorable speeches I’ve heard in a decade of listening to senior speeches twice a week. He was eloquent. His tone was perfect. And I learned a new vocabulary word that all high school teachers should know: sprezzatura-the art of studied carelessness. (Translation: Doing well without looking like you’ve tried.)

Here’s the gist of the speech. Despite what many high schoolers pretend, it’s important to care and it’s important to try. And he struck a balance of eloquence and humor, with a tone that didn’t alienate his classmates. It was the message I needed to hear that day.

“Now, in the very constrained world of high school, what we do with our time has very little to do with what we care about–instead mostly having to do with what parents, teachers, and colleges care about–but someday their influence will wane, and we will all be completely responsible for what we do with our lives.(Instead of looking to others) we will have to turn to ourselves and decide what we care about and then own up to that, proudly saying that “I do this because I care about doing this, and doing it well.”

“I hope that there is something each and every one of you does care about. I urge you all to care unashamedly, unreservedly, about something, about anything, just care.”

Two weeks previously, I had applied for a grant related to information literacy. It was hard to even admit I cared, that I wanted to do well, that I wanted it…or that I deserved it.

One of the pieces of the application that simultaneously intrigued and terrified me was the small print about “optional supporting materials. How cool to have the opportunity to share presentations, images, and publications. But how? There were no instructions about how to submit anything beyond the application form, essay, and letters of recommendation. I decided to incorporate these optional materials into my essay at the appropriate points, allowing readers to see examples of my actual work, much like Wikipedia readers might click on the hyperlinks of an article. Because I get so concerned about losing formatting in electronic submissions, my final task after proofreading and checking all links was to convert all documents to pdfs.

Two weeks later brings us to the morning of Gus’s speech. A freshman asked a question about a hyperlink that wouldn’t open from a pdf. Shifting immediately to panic mode, I wanted to check my own submission. Instead, using all willpower I possess to focus on the task at hand, we found the link on a general web search.  Then I opened my own document and clicked on the first link. And the second. And the third. I was offered the option to highlight. To strikethrough. To add a note. But not to open any links. I returned to the Word document and the links worked as anticipated. Knowing myself, in 100 times of checking, I never would have added the step to check the pdf. It’s always the last thing I do before submissions.

I was late to chapel because I was writing the committee. Better to at least let them know that my application hadn’t submitted as I had intended. This at least stopped my own wondering about the reception. A response was waiting a few hours later.

This is the time when I tell you this was all occurring two weeks before the announcement of the winner, giving me time to write most of this post as a way of processing my disappointment, while simultaneously imagining a scenario in which the nonfunctional links didn’t matter and I was the best candidate. Please tell me I’m not alone in living in two dichotomous worlds, though at the end of those two weeks I learned for certain I didn’t win.

As with many of your schools, our school is increasingly looking at the mental health of our students; what’s stressing them out and what’s making their days happier. Since beginning conversations with the team at Challenge Success, we are discussing how to limit the bad kind of stress while teaching students to cope with eustress. Was my experience the former, or was it the latter? It was a technological learning point for me, one I won’t soon forget. Sometimes a spelling erorr in a resume can cost you an interview, a traffic snarl can keep you from arriving at an interview on time, or too many “umms” can keep you from getting the job. These are real consequences.

Which returns me to sprezzatura. It’s nice to wake up with hair that looks perfectly blown out. How convenient to be on the lacrosse team that happened to win by 10 points last night. The themes of Gatbsy just flowed from your pen, earning you an A on your ICW.  It’s harder to care, and to admit to that you care, to talk about the time spent with a blowdryer, running drills, or annotating the text.

Or from Gus:

Every time somebody flexes that they aced a test without worrying about it, chalks an impressive goal up to luck and not the hours of practice they put in, or dismisses some club or extracurricular as being solely about the college app grind and not, on some level, a genuine passion, they’re employing sprezzatura . Faking carelessness like this necessarily means denying the part of yourself that really does care and losing yourself to your artificial air of nonchalance. Without caring about anything, you might avoid embarrassing yourself, you might seem cool, but you certainly won’t know any real success, feel any real satisfaction, either. If no part of your life means anything to you, your life is, in the most literal sense, meaningless.

AISL members have responded in the past with a sense of recognition when bloggers have shared their own vulnerabilities. It’s hard for me because it goes against that effortlessness that is modeled in so many corners of society. I have told students for years that the single piece of writing that stood out to me the most in four years of high school English was Joan Didion’s On Self Respect. In hindsight, I wonder both how much of it I understood and how much of my identity had already been set by age seventeen. This is my public declaration that I care about librarianship and specifically information literacy, and I put in the effort, and at the end of the day in this case it wasn’t enough. And that’s okay.

“Research Says…”

Everyone has that phrase, the cliché that rolls off others’ tongues with surprising frequency. The one that shouldn’t bother you. The one that does bother you. The one you seemingly can’t escape.

Whether it’s “out-of-the-box thinking,” “giving 110%,” or “same difference,” whatever comes after is lost. For me, that phrase is “research says.”

This is partly due to its ubiquity, but also because there doesn’t seem to be a definition of research that’s shared between librarians and popular culture.

Research isn’t the actor. Research isn’t a specific result. Research isn’t a prescription. Research is a focused and systematic investigation, with the goal of finding useful information and replicable results. Scientists will agree with the librarians. And obviously 9 out of 10 dentists.

Each fall my husband’s Physics students run carts of different weights down an incline to determine whether mass affects the acceleration of gravity. No less a scientist than Galileo determined it doesn’t, and my husband has the equations to back this up. The result is not just anticipated, it is known and can be calculated. The students are not researching, but the experimental process sets the tone for what research looks like when the result hasn’t yet been determined.

Similarly, in English classes, who else has been asked to help students write papers with their own “original research” offered as literary criticism on a work. Ironically, what teachers mean by this is usually the students’ own thoughts on a published piece, without referring to any external secondary sources. This can promote critical analysis, though I might question why we assume novice readers will come up with valuable insights not considered by experts, but it isn’t research. No wonder students are confused by what research is or why it matters.

We try to address this general idea in Honors Biology with a Vitamin lesson on why experts disagree. It’s helpful to hear students try to contextualize what an individual study demonstrated, the limitations of that research, and how the findings were shared (or shall we say dumbed down) by the popular media. They’re quickly able to make connections to the clickbaity news they encounter on a daily basis.

Stanford History Education Group’s updated report on Students’ Civic Online Reasoning is, in their words “troubling,” and in my words, “terrifying.” It’s not just that our students need to be better navigators of information so as to excel as scholars. There are organizations out there who are monetizing our illiteracy. Whenever I hear “research says,” I picture research (as some sort of Muppety Beaker/Swedish Chef amalgamation) messily mixing variables and then sharing the resulting baked goods with an unsuspecting audience.

Is it too much to ask who did the research, the background of those researchers, and the scope of what they were expecting to find? Bonus points for when it was completed and the variables that were tested! This isn’t what makes headlines, but this is what research would actually say if it were able to talk. When we can substitute “I did a Google search and this is what I found” for “research says,” we are setting our society up as information illiterates, with consequences for our civic infrastructure. We continue to increase media’s access to us through our- often complicated – relationships with our devices. I believe it’s crucial that we are ambassadors for a nuanced understanding of the idea of research. If you have any ways that you’ve done this in your school or community, I’d love for you to share in the comments below.

Insta Update

In my attempt to connect this post to my holiday break that starts today, I’m beginning with A Christmas Carol. We’re all familiar with the message of redemption after Scrooge visits his own past, present, and future. In cinematic adaptations of the Dickens’ novella, we often see Scrooge and his ghosts peering through windows at those in his life.

1938 Movie Adaptation of “A Christmas Carol”

Several years ago, I posted about my personal use of Instagram in the library. This isn’t the way my students use the platform but rather about meeting the personal challenge of posting once per day, considering my role through fresh eyes. This time, instead of reflecting on my own posting, I want to consider myself as participant and viewer.

I admit that I like to live vicariously through beautiful libraries… 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pretty-spaces.jpg
The NYPL, Strand, and the Morgan, some NYC favorites

Or following the Los Angeles Public Library as they visually document spaces referenced in Susan Orlean’s The Library Book, so I can see how new media can enhance the old…

LA Central Public Library, past and present

Or marveling at #bookfacefriday.

#bookfacefriday

Or stalking books and contests.

If you haven’t read The Poet X, seek it out over break.

Or keeping up with AISL and its librarians.

Follow aislibrarians

But my favorite is just getting a snapshot into others’ libraries. Staged shots are beautiful, but I like seeing what average days look like for other librarians. Their displays. Their students. Their teaching space. Their sense of humor. The books they are reading. My students laugh when I show them my stream, and I’m in no way Insta’s average user. Libraries, libraries everywhere…

John Burroughs School – Study Space (I was coveting glass rooms for awhile last year, but we got our pod…sorta)
Mercersburg Academy students have a more creative book club sign up table than mine
New College Writing Center – procrastination in action
Virtual reality with Middle Schoolers at Tampa Prep
This idea went straight from Solebury School to my circulation counter.
I have screenshotted several of the Holton Libraries bulletin boards for my own adaptations.
This is what I needed for some maker fun before winter break courtesy of the Viewpoint Library

Just a short post for today so I can get the holiday started. Thanks for the inspiration, and I wish everyone a relaxing semester break!

Conference Takeaways? Make that Takeaway.

As a librarian who finally earned her first pair of glasses this past April, I was thrilled to hit “submit” on my registration for AISL Houston Seeing Clearly 2020. We know there is a reason AISL conferences fill up quickly; we learn so much from each other throughout the week. Based on AISL member feedback, the conference is intentionally small, letting a local planning committee create a unique experience in keeping with the character of their region and schools. This personal touch lets attendees visit schools and see behind the scenes at other libraries, and it provides a mobility that would be impossible on a much larger scale. I always return with lists of ideas and pages of notes. Some get accomplished and some enter my “someday maybe” file. But what if I instead flip the script to the ONE takeaway that turned out to be the most meaningful from any given year? My list is not what I would have expected boarding the plane heading back to TPA each spring, and yet it represents the ideas I’ve returned to repeatedly and the changes I’ve made to my own practice. Since you all are so awesome, this was a nearly impossible task! If this post sparks any ideas from your own experiences, I’d love to hear them below.

Boston 2019 – Conferences have many moments that are planned – speakers, tours, workshops – but sometimes one of the most powerful moments occur because of the unforeseen. When there was a bus delay in Boston, the fabulously fashionable Ellen Cothran revamped her presentation into a pop-up session on Harkness discussions through some sort of alchemy in a lobby at Andover. She had everyone engaged and even handed out notes and captured her audience on the fly. I’ve tried to model her energy and enthusiasm for letting learning bubble up naturally. Proctoring PSATs, walking to a performance of Romeo and Juliet, and waiting for the microwave are all possibilities to have a pop-up session with students and faculty.

Atlanta 2018 – I can totally see why Constance Vidor won a Sara Jaffarian Award for her work on turning the library into a museum with interactive exhibits. I shared the webinar with my Middle School history faculty as a way we could broaden research outcomes to reach more learners. However, here is the line from my own handwritten notes that I remember most directly as an AHA moment. “20 craft packets with black paper, sharp pencils, gold/silver sharpies, and hand out. 6 straight lines drawn on paper so it is neat. Make it easy for them.” It seems so obvious, but I needed to have that level of granularity. It might seem easy for me to say that advisors should ask students to use pencils to complete a task, but compliance will feel easier if I hand them the pencils. Thinking back to Takeaway Boston, handing out pencils is an untraditional opportunity for conversation. Win-win!

New Orleans 2017 – While I always enjoy the keynote speakers, in New Orleans Doug Johnson provided the most memorable lesson of the conference. When he spoke about building library support with little tweaks to make administrators your allies, I listened. Of particular note were three items. 1. Be seen outside your the library. 2. Don’t call it “my library” but “our library” and advocate for library users, not for library goals. 3. Principals hate surprises, whether the surprises are good or bad. If there is something innovative that is happening in the library, your administrators should hear about it from you, not from a parent on the soccer field. It allows them to speak knowledgeably about the library programming and puts them in the position to support you. This directive to share positives has been key in building support outside my walls.

Los Angeles 2016 – Talk about “unknown unknowns.” Until Nora Murphy’s eye-opening presentation on frogs and axolotls, otherwise known as source literacy, I had been happy that teachers at my school knew how to direct students towards database usage. But we fell far short of teaching source literacy for untraditional or subject-specific sources, like photo archives, trade publications, or policy briefs. We don’t let our students take the shortcut of relying on mythical universal expertise; we know this is subject-specific. Thinking about where we encounter sources in our daily lives and how this differs by discipline has led to thoughtful discussions with department chairs about what quality sources look like in different disciplines. My students had been too quick to assume neutrality and authority in sources they encountered, and this session gave me the vocabulary to add nuance to our research program. I have since sought out Nora’s presentation for her insights and humor.  

Tampa 2015 – Conference planning is hard work. Much more time is spent focusing on raising money, building bus routes, writing bus scripts, determining meal plans for many varieties of diets, and coordinating breakout rooms than you would think. Five years later, I needed to look through my folder to remember the programming, compared with many memories of logistics. If you’re heading to Houston and see someone with a Conference Planner tag, thank them for all the weekends and evenings they devoted to set the stage for you to learn. Team Houston, there is a subset of AISL librarians that you’ll join on April 3. When talking with this esteemed group, you’ll never take the AISL conference for granted again.

Again it’s not always the skills but mindsets that have had a lasting influence. I’m better for our camaraderie, and I thank all AISL members for that!