Best of 2016 … from your AISL Board


With Cyber Monday, Black Friday and Thanksgiving all behind us, now is a good time to pause and reflect – to celebrate our 2016 successes, both individual and collective.  Last week, someone asked me, “What is the best thing that has happened to you this year?” and I admit, I was caught off guard.  We so often focus on the things that are wrong in the world (or our lives), that we don’t take the time to focus on all the good things for which we are grateful.

I am grateful for this wonderful group of AISL colleagues with whom we share our journeys as independent school librarians.  Our vibrant listserv, blog, and social media presence keep us connected, allowing us to share our challenges as well as our successes.  In that frame of mind, let’s pause and celebrate the best of 2016 for our association.


First up, the amazing PD opportunity many of us enjoyed at the annual conference in Los Angeles in April 2016, thanks to the hard work of the awesome organizing committee.  Next, the timely Summer Institute on “design thinking” held in Troy, NY in June.  Hundreds of listserv posts, thought-provoking blog posts, emails and conversations between AISL colleagues across North America.  Cost of membership: $30.  Value: priceless.

AISL’s fledgling mentorship program was launched this fall.  It is early days yet, but we hope it will prove a valuable experience to both mentors and mentees.  Recent feedback reflects this hopefulness that the program will grow organically.  One mentee comments, “I am exceptionally grateful to AISL for thinking up and then providing this opportunity for mentorship.  Figuring out how this is going to work between myself and my mentor is a great lesson in sort of the self-care of professional development.  I’m still relatively new to independent schools and school librarianship generally, so just having to practice creating this relationship is tremendous.”  Another mentor offers, “I have been able to offer some insights, and reassurances as to some programs/issues that she has been dealing with at her school.  We have talked a couple of times on the phone, for a few hours, and our plan is to keep the conversation ongoing.”

Looking forward as well as reflecting on past successes (don’t want to rest on our laurels!), the good news is:  AISL participation is the gift that keeps on giving.  Plans are finalized for the annual conference in New Orleans in March 2017, which is fully booked.  Two librarians will attend their first AISL conference there thanks to the Board’s Affordability Scholarship; they will share their experiences with us via blog posts next spring.  Spearheaded by Milly Rawlings, four of our “retired” members—Kick Ass Retired Librarians, or KARLs—have planned a complementary, concurrent program in New Orleans that involves sightseeing as well as connecting with active members through activities, meals, and the hospitality suite.  We expect more KARLs will attend the 2018 Atlanta conference, which will benefit from the review of ways to improve integration after the inaugural experience in Atlanta.

Meanwhile, colleagues in two cities are already planning their future annual conference offerings: Atlanta will host in 2018, and Boston in 2019.  And hosts are lined up for future Summer Institutes as well:  Caroline Bartels at Horace Mann in New York City is hosting an “all-school read” seminar in June 2017, details will be available via the listserv in January 2017.  Several of our generous Los Angeles hosts are stepping up to offer the 2018 Summer Institute, topic to be announced a little closer to the date.  They want to ensure it is timely!

Members of the AISL Board have created “planning guides” to help organizers of annual conferences and Summer Institutes.  Updates and revisions are underway, and will be distributed this spring – they are a never-ending “work in progress” J.

Last month, Ian Singer, Credo’s Chief Content Officer, reached out to AISL after a referral from our BAISL colleagues.  As the former editor of School Library Journal, Ian is sensitive to the delicate balance between librarians and vendor “opportunists”.  He is working to build credibility in the K-12 market, and believes that there is a good fit between Credo’s products and independent schools because of our college/university prep focus, training, smarts (and possibly budgets J).

Ian is interested in exploring ways to partner with our AISL community, and has offered to discuss sponsorships (a meal, a speaker, a hospitality suite?) at conference or summer institute events, as well as creating webcasts around themes like information literacy or faculty engagement.  This information sharing and collaboration can be win/win both for Credo and for our libraries and students.  Please reach out to Ian directly if you’d like to explore a collaboration of some kind:

There has been some good discussion recently via the listserv and blog about PD books worth reading; thanks to everyone who has shared good PD reads.  As the AISL Board prepares to host the annual “Board book social” at the NOLA conference, we’re soliciting suggestions for additional titles to consider.  We like to offer a choice of two titles – are there are books you’ve read recently that would make for a lively discussion at our annual conference?  If so, now’s the time to share!  Please add your book recommendations in the “Comments” section below.  We will blog about the selected titles so everyone can weigh in.  Here are the books we are considering so far:

BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google – John Palfrey (2015)

Born Digital: How Children Grow Up in a Digital Age – John Palfrey (2016)

Dive Into Inquiry: Amplify Learning and Empower Student Voice – Trevor MacKenzie (2016)

Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding – Jay McTighe (2013)

And last but not least, if you are interested in serving on the AISL Board, stay tuned.  There will be an opportunity to apply for Member at Large positions in the spring as people currently on the Board move into new roles.  It’s a wonderful way to give back to an association that gives us so much.

On behalf of the AISL Board (Jean Bruce, Renee Chevallier, Katie Archambault, Allison Peters Jensen, Phoebe Warmack, Christina Pommer and moi), Happy Holidays and all the best in the New Year!







3 thoughts on “Best of 2016 … from your AISL Board

  1. Happy Holidays to the wonderful board! This post was insightful. I did not know all the wonderful things that the AISL board is offering/working on to enrich our AISL experience. Thanks.


    • Thanks, Cathy! You are a valuable cog in the wheel of AISL’s success — thanks for your work on the 2016 annual conference, and your planning for the 2018 summer institute. Have a great week … Sandy

  2. As a brand spanking new retiree, I’m so glad that I will get to see fellow AISLers in New Orleans soon, and because I’m still on the listserv, I get to hear about all the great things everyone is doing! This organization is the best one out there for independent school librarians because it is personal and oh-so-relevant. You board members are absolutely incredible, helping AISL grow and become even better, if that’s possible. Happy Holidays to you all!

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