From Kari Delane, AISL Annual Conference Affordability Scholarship winner, Impressions on the Conference

Intro from Phoebe Warmack –

Last October the Board of Directors of AISL was pleased to announce the first offering of the AISL Annual Conference Affordability Scholarship.  It was double the pleasure, thanks to the funding of a generous donor and association member, to in this inaugural year be able to offer two affordability scholarships.  These scholarships each provided a stipend of up to US $1,000.00, designed to provide 100% conference registration with the remaining balance to be applied as reimbursement toward documented travel and lodging expenses to defray the cost of attending the recipient’s first AISL annual conference.  We received great response to this first affordability scholarship offering and, after reviewing all applications, selected two librarians for receipt of the available grants.

I was excited, proud, and appropriately nervous to be a part of this selection process.  We are a group of accomplished professionals and I can assure you no decision was made lightly or easily!  We were thrilled to offer scholarships to Jennifer Falvey, of Heathwood Hall Episcopal School and Kari Delane, of Hillside School.  The scholarship committee asked on the application form that the recipient submit a brief report of their conference experience to the AISL Board of Directors.  During our meeting in Tampa (thanks again, Tampa librarians!), we decided we would much prefer a write up as a post on the AISL Independent Ideas blog.  It is my honor this week to introduce the first of these reflections which I know you will enjoy reading.  I hope it will rekindle the “first time” memories of those of us who have frequented AISL conference venues and, as well, that it will provide those of you who have not yet attended an AISL conference that extra impetus to apply for the affordability scholarship next fall!  Looking forward to seeing you all in LA!

THANK YOU!!!

Phoebe

From Kari DeLane –

I was lucky enough to be chosen as a scholarship recipient to this year’s AISL conference in Tampa, Florida. This blog post is a reflection on my experience at the conference and what I took away from it.

I landed in Tampa late Tuesday night and took a cab to the hotel to meet my roommate for the conference, Cathy Leverkus, who is the Director of Library and Information Services at The Willows Community School in Los Angeles. The week prior to the conference she sent an email to the listserv looking for a roommate and I thought it would be a good way to keep costs down and meet someone new. This was a great choice. Cathy and I got along right away and it was nice to know someone before the conference started on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday was a whirlwind of new: new people, new ideas, and new places. I sat down at breakfast with a group of people I had never met, who quickly put me at ease, and was excited by “The Library as Incubator” keynote. I have since been frequenting their website and have taken inspiration for future projects. I can’t wait to make a poetree for National Poetry Month next year!

After the keynote, we all boarded the coach buses, which proved to be think tanks on wheels. I sat with a new person on almost every bus trip during the conference, learning and making friends simultaneously. This first bus trip was when I realized I was in for a different kind of conference — not a run from room to room in a hotel, overload on information, and hardly talk to anyone new kind of conference, like most of the conferences I have been to before. The small number of attendees and the willingness of everyone to open up and share was what made AISL such a unique and worthwhile experience.

Our first school visit at Shorecrest Preparatory School also tipped me off about how different this conference would be. I attended a session on makerspaces and then went to look around in the makerspace the presenters had just told me about! This kind of hands-on experience is invaluable. Creating a makerspace in my library is on my to-do list, and I had the chance to explore one and now I have Courtney Walker and Dottie Smay, in her fabulous high heels, to reach out to for advice if (or honestly, when) I need it.

I also was happy to learn that we were not overscheduled. During some conferences, I feel totally overwhelmed with the amount of information coming at me in session after session. It was nice to have time to do other things during AISL. After Shorecrest, we visited Sunken Gardens and had time to explore this beautiful local site and relax. This was followed by an afternoon of free time to explore Tampa, which I took full advantage of by thrifting with two new friends. The book board discussion and dinner with a librarian closed out the day beautifully. I was exhausted, and gratefully went to bed early.

Thursday opened with a lovely breakfast overlooking the water at Pier 22 followed by a visit to Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School, where I had the opportunity to discuss teaching research with three other librarians during “The Power of Student Discovery.” I came away with a better sense of how to structure my research curriculum next year.

It was nice to get a chance to see The Ringling Museum that afternoon and to have some time to spend on the beach (and grab a few frozen daiquiris with new friends!) at Saint Armand’s circle. Swimming in the hotel pool was a perfect end to the day.

The final day of the conference started off with breakfast and some excellent entertainment at Berkeley Prep. The lower division choir practically brought me to tears and reminded me why I am in this profession in the first place. Working with young people who are full of promise and hope, who are so innocent and vulnerable, who make you smile and sometimes drive you nuts — they are the reason our school libraries exist.

I attended the Capstone Project Poster Session and was blown away by what the kids had managed to do, especially considering the fact that this was the first group to complete the program. I am hoping to create a capstone project at my own school and now have some ideas of how to get going and C.D. McLean to reach out to for advice.

It was a treat to hear author William Durbin speak during our delicious lunch at Columbia Restaurant. I loved hearing about the

I’d like to thank AISL for offering the scholarship,

the scholarship committee, and the conference planning committee, who did an excellent job.

key role research plays in his writing process and was inspired to give writing a go myself during summer vacation. The afternoon writing session led by author Adrian Fogelin at Saint Mary’s Episcopal Day School further emboldened me. I also teach English and took away a wealth of things to try with my students from her presentation.

The closing Skip Anthony Dinner provided the perfect end to the conference and highlighted the most enjoyable aspect of it for me, and I think the biggest reason people return year after year: meeting and spending time with some wonderful people who share your passion. Dedicated, energetic, inspiring, supportive… I could go on and on. I work with faculty and students in my school every day and they are also wonderful people, but sometimes I feel a bit isolated as the only librarian on campus. I made real connections with others in my profession at this conference. I have already been in touch with several people I met and feel more connected to the independent school librarian community.

The conference was a time to recharge professionally, to reassess, rethink, and renew. I came away revitalized and ready to implement many of the ideas I learned about through formal sessions and informal conversations. AISL Tampa 2015 was the best conference I have ever been to. I hope I am able to make it to L.A. next year!

 

Impressions of a Newbie; My First AISL Conference

Flamingos of a Feather: AISL Tampa 2015

By: Selene Athas

When I registered for my first AISL conference back in October, I had no idea what to expect. New to the school librarian’s world and new to the world of independent schools, I eagerly anticipated my conference experience with nervousness and excitement. Today, as I sit at my desk in the middle school library at Holy Trinity Episcopal Day School, I find myself daydreaming and reflecting upon my amazing 3 days and 4 nights at AISL Tampa 2015. Aside from the amazing learning and collaborating that took place, what stands out most are the stories I heard from my many conversations with librarians from all over North America.

The bingo card that was in my welcome packet forced me to introduce myself to complete strangers so that I could find out which librarian appeared on Jeopardy!® or which media specialist is the mother of two sets of twins. I don’t think I would have been so bold as to ask these questions on my own, but since it was for a prize and I am extremely competitive, I was on a mission!

While conversing with each person, it was comforting to know that most of the people I spoke with did not necessarily start out in life wanting to be a librarian. I think I had a latent desire to become one from an early age, but somehow, my path in life took many unexpected twists and turns. One commonality I discovered was that keynote speaker Laura Damon-Moore (with whom I fortuitously shared a shuttle to the hotel) also studied theatre in her undergraduate years, and went on to be a successful public librarian, author, and speaker! I spent way too many years looking back and regretting my intense focus on theatre (and not taking enough “real” classes, which I later had to do to become a teacher/librarian), but finally my choices have become more legitimized as I discover myriad interdisciplinary relationships and how librarianship is at the heart of virtually every other profession.

Listening to Chris Bashinelli’s world view and the advice he gave to the young people in attendance empowered me to go back to my school with my own mission to emphasize experiences and relationships rather than the acquisition of material goods. How fitting it was to hear from someone who gave up a life seemingly filled with glamour and celebrity to travel the world and create meaningful connections with people of other cultures. He emphasized the importance deep listening –without judgment – and a willingness to step out of one’s comfort zones. Hearing these words validated something within me as I contemplated my own journey towards librarianship.

Everyone I encountered displayed true passion for the acquisition of knowledge, and it was clear how all of us know how important it is to develop literate members of society. From conversations about books to board games, we are all birds of a feather (or, since we were in Florida…flamingos), flocking together to learn more so we can do more for our students. I felt deep connections with my new colleagues, as if I had known them for many years. I felt welcomed, valued, and a part of an interdependent group of top-notch professionals.

Refreshed, renewed, and filled with inspiration, I know I can gaze around my library and incorporate many ideas I acquired along my #AISLTampa2015 journey. The final message I took away was this: everyone needs a librarian, and it feels good to be needed. We build the future.

 

Ms. Selene Athas

Media Specialist

Middle School/Preschool/Kindergarten

Holy Trinity Episcopal Day School

 

 

Top 10 List of Conference Takeaways

The Tampa Crew did such a great job with this year’s AISL conference that I am overwhelmed by all that I have learned and have acquired “Option Anxiety”. The only way I can move forward is to break the dazzling array of new information into small digestible bits.

To that end, Blogger Shelagh Straughan and I have created a  Top Ten list of tips from the conference. I will start with 10 and work down to 6, and Shelagh will pick up where I left off.  Here we go!

 Top 10 Tip:  The Library as Incubator Project: Allow students to connect to assignments in different ways.  Art as part of the toolbox. Modeling this in library space is the best way to encourage creative thinking at your school. As Erinn Paige said, we can “Sneak rigor into your students’ lives through art”. Also check out the Book to Art Club.

Top 9 Tip: Here’s a quick low-tech survey as a pre-test before a presentation: at the start of a presentation, survey your attendees’ level of experience by using the ‘finger survey’. Ask your attendees to hold one finger up if they are a total novice at the topic to be discussed, two fingers if they’re somewhat experienced, and three if they are very familiar with the topic. Call for everyone to hold fingers up all at once. This will help you to gauge levels of experience and help you to shift content a bit if necessary. Thanks to Dotty Smay!
Top 8 Tip:  Makerspace startup: It’s not the machine, it’s the program.
Chaos is standard. Become comfortable with the role of “Guide on Side.” Go to art teachers and tech teachers for guidance. The tool that is most important is the questioning tool. The process is primary. In most of our schools there is no time for the thinking, trying, exploratory processes in classes. We can give a space for that in our libraries. Consider it a “Blended Model”.  In our more conventional library role we work to create independent readers, but we also work with teachers on set curriculum. Same thing with projects. Sometimes work with teachers, but sometimes work with students individually, as we do when helping them find just what they want to read.
 makerspace 1

Top 7 Tip:  Two apps (out of many) from App-Smashing workshop

Prompterous is a teleprompter app available from the App Store in iTunes. Has a timer, great for filming and speeches. For kids and faculty, good for any oral presentations.  Lindsay Brennan provided the link for the Padlet from the App Smashing Session.  For those who couldn’t attend, there are some cool resources here.

Notability is able to manipulate notes in all kinds of ways. You can sign docs (opens a PDF, allows to write with a stylus, and send back). Possible in iPad, available through the App Store.

Top 6 Tip:  Always carry talcum powder with you when you go to the beach. A powdering on your feet will absorb any water and the sand will brush right off. Of course, sand in Tampa Bay is extra super fine, so it’s a lot like baby powder itself, but the talcum tip is  a great one. Thanks to Diane Neary for that little treasure.DSCN5591 (2)
Here’s Shelagh Straughan continuing the countdown: 

Top 5 Tip: Impulsivity and the teenage brain (Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School) on how, with the prefrontal cortex developing throughout adolescence, teenagers can have difficulty assessing risk, setting priorities, thinking ahead and planning over time. I loved the suggestion that rather than just facing this fact, we embrace the opportunity for learning, and let this environment shape our teaching. Helpful too, to stretch from this place and consider how it impacts plagiarism – for instance, that a growth (rather than fixed) mindset recognizes that citation demonstrates credibility.
photo1 

Top 4 Tip: What college freshmen need to know (Ringling College of Art & Design) was a timely and relevant presentation by a panel of 3 academic librarians. I wasn’t alone in feeling reassured about some of the items we’re already covering, and appreciated the recommendations about additional specific skills which will help our students succeed at the post-secondary level. These included but weren’t limited to using a variety of databases, recognizing the difference between popular magazines and scholarly journals, and perhaps the most important – encouraging them to ask for help!

Top 3 Tip: The power of student library proctors was more than evident at Berkeley Preparatory! Their group of 23 proctors (including co-heads) meet and work weekly to shelve books, develop book trailers & promotional videos, design displays and organize programs that celebrate reading. This year’s initiatives have included pumpkin-decorating contests, a St Patrick’s day book promotion and the current display of “Which is better – the book or the movie?’photo3photo2 

Top 2 Tip: The value of taking time to stop, rest and reflect. The beautiful library at Academy of the Holy Names has recently unveiled its new iLab, an innovative, multi-purpose space. Upper School librarians were fortunate to have 90 minutes of time to gather in this creative environment to “reflect, recap and record” what we’d learned over the past 3 days. This time was invaluable, allowing some to discuss current issues and others to plan action items.

Number One Conference Tip: Be inspired, not intimidated. I am fortunate to have attended 5 AISL conferences to date, and once again, I was amazed not only by the beautiful libraries we visited and impressive programs we saw in action, but by the wonderful work we heard about while chatting with colleagues. I’m learning to focus on being motivated rather than overwhelmed. It’s enough that we do our best with what we have, and focus on the potential within our own schools. Having the opportunity to see what’s happening out there helps me to expand my vision for my own library program.photo4 (2)

Thanks again to all the Tampa Bay librarians, and be sure to note your own top tips from the conference in the comments below!

It’s Conference Time! No Foolin’!

It’s April 1st. This means two things, my bibliophile friends:

1. Pranks, they are abounding. Awesome.

2. It’s T-Minus 2 weeks until AISL Annual Conference, “Bridging Our Differences“, kicks off in warm, sunny TAMPA!! HOORAY!!!

So for Barbara Share, the Blogging Goddess, who requested that I re-post this and for anyone else who might be interested,  I give you a geographically edited bit of conference advice, originally posted last year around this time as To Conference (verb).


 

As I contemplate what to pack for Dallas Tampa and worry about blinding new and old friends with my pasty winter legs, I can barely contain my excitement.  You see, professionally AND personally, this is one of my favorite weeks of the year.

This post is for conference veterans and newbies alike. A bit of AISL conference advice. Please use the comments section to build on this.

How do you conference?

What to wear?

During the day, you’ll find a little bit of everything, from jeans to dresses and heels. I vote for business casual during the day with comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking. I also layer so I’m ready for heat and AC. Bring something fun for the Skip Anthony banquet. It’s your chance to exchange your Clark Kent façade for fun, stylin’ Superlibrarian.

Networking

The hospitality suite: when you arrive at the hotel you might find yourself feeling road weary. You probably have a fantastic new book in your carry-on and some comfy pants calling your name. Fight it. Go by your room to drop your bags, freshen up, then head to the hospitality suite. When you arrive there, grab a snack and a glass of wine and get ready to mingle. It might be uncomfortable at first, but putting faces with names and learning who you might have some things in common with (Single sex or co-ed? Elementary, middle, or upper?) can open up doors to meaningful conversation and perhaps even genuine friendships by the end of the conference.  Not your first time? Look for new faces and make them feel welcome. Revel in reconnecting with old friends and putting listserv names with faces, but look for conference newbies to draw into conversations. I really appreciated those that did this for me my first year.

Meals and bus rides are equally valuable. Even if you are an introvert, don’t miss this opportunity to connect. At times, these conversations can be as educational as the workshops that you will attend.

Talk to boys! Men tend to be in the minority at our conference. It’s uncomfortable to be in the minority. Ladies, let’s make sure we’re making them feel welcome and included as well.

 Practical Advice

Carry a notebook or device for note taking at all times. When you’re on the bus and someone starts talking about a fantastic book they’ve read that you or your students might also like to read, write. it. down. You probably think you’ll remember. You might. But if you’re like me and your “brain plate” gets full, these details might fall right off. I also take people’s cards and write on them what it is we discussed and anything that I want to follow up on when I get home. It will help, trust me. Try to sit with someone new on the bus each time. It’s quality time built into your day as you travel.

Bring a camera or device to take pictures. Take a picture of the name of the library before you start snapping away—you might want to email the librarian to discuss specifics later. You will see some awesome displays, new titles, furniture, spaces, quotes, technology, programming, etc.  Take pix of slides in a presentation if they are particularly good or relevant to something you’re interested in. Record all of this inspiration to recreate in your own space or to include in your conference report when you get home.

Take pix of student art to share with your art teachers. Do the same for other student work displayed in the library or on campus that might inspire a class project. Innovative recycling program in San Fran you say? Bring it to your school! I first saw Read posters done for middle and upper school teachers of the year at a school I visited during an AISL conference and that became an awesome tradition at my last school. Reading programs, book displays, ways to integrate book carts into 3D book displays, tech integration…pix are always good to show administrators great ideas in action when you get home.

Use social media to engage in conversation with our colleagues who are unable to attend this year (#) on both Twitter and Instagram).

Have FUN, but not too much fun. Be remembered for your fabulous ideas, not for your fabulous table dance moves. 😉

Take advantage of every opportunity offered to you. The planning committee has spent an incredible amount of time and energy thinking through what you should see and do in their town. Even if you’re really tired, push yourself to go on that tour, visit that museum, see that sight. Some of my favorite AISL memories include seeing Niagara falls for the first time, visiting wine country, touring the Country Music Hall of Fame, catching a Rockies game in Denver, dancing the night away with a 360 degree view of the San Francisco skyline, touring the Naval Academy, and last year’s tour of the private collection…if you missed it, you need to ask someone about it STAT.  Holy cow.

I absolutely love this conference. It is my professional ‘cup filler’ for the year. To avoid information overload, I come back and choose 3 action items to either begin on immediately or to plan for the next year. I keep my notes and refer back to them at least once a year. It’s amazing to see some of the same issues from my first conference in ’07 still relevant today.

These are just some of my suggestions for getting the most from your time in Tampa. What did I miss? Please share comments, questions, or suggestions of your own below. Until then, I’ll pack my boots sunglasses and flip flops and count the days until I see you in Margarittaville.

 

AISL 2014 Board Book: It’s Complicated by danah boyd

The 2nd annual AISL Board Book social took place on Thursday, April 24. Although it had been a busy and full day, many Dallas conference attendees joined the board for food and drinks, and took the opportunity to discuss the 2014 Board Book selection It’s Complicated by danah boyd. 2013’s event was a great success; in Baltimore we discussed I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did by Lori Andrews, which covered similar topics to boyd’s book.

It’s Complicated is an in-depth look at teens, and how they use the internet: their social media choices, their different personalities in different contexts online, their perception of privacy, and their interaction with their peers in an online (and offline) context. The book was generally well received by attendees, who felt they were seeing these issues on a day-to-day basis in their libraries and schools. The author, danah boyd, is a well-respected academic whose research focuses on how young people use social media as part of their everyday practice. It’s Complicated is based primarily on interviews boyd undertook with teens about their social media behaviours.

Attendees discussed a series of questions put together for the group by CD McLean (AISL president) such as:

  • What does social media add to the quality of teens’ social lives, and what does it take away?
  • What do you think about the idea that teens are more ‘digital naives’ as sociologist Hargittai calls them, than ‘digital natives’?
  • What do you think of the quote by Mark Zuckerberg, “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity”?
  • Have we as adults become socially rude? Culturally rude? How do you define privacy?
  • Have teens redefined the nature of privacy online?
  • How do we as faculty judge teens?
  • Parental rights versus privacy / child rights. Where do you stand on this? Where does your school stand on this?

Thanks to my tablemates (Brenda Ferrell, Amy Cunningham, Tricia deWinter, and Joan Tweedie) for the interesting discussion! Although we didn’t always stay on topic, we had a fascinating conversation about teens, privacy, school social media use policies and the digital footprint / shadow that many of our students are creating.

Please consider joining us for next year’s Board Books Discussion at the 2015 Tampa conference. If you read any titles between now and then that you think would make for great discussion with AISL conference attendees, let us know!

To Conference (verb)

As I contemplate what to pack for Dallas and worry about blinding new and old friends with my pasty winter legs, I can barely contain my excitement.  You see, professionally AND personally, this is one of my favorite weeks of the year.

This post is for conference veterans and newbies alike. A bit of AISL conference advice. Please use the comments section to build on this.

How do you conference?

What to wear? (Thanks Jen Weening—I’m adding this after reading your email to the listserv!). During the day, you’ll find a little bit of everything, from jeans to dresses and heels. I vote for business casual during the day with comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking. I also layer so I’m ready for heat and AC. Bring something fun for the Skip Anthony banquet. It’s your chance to exchange your Clark Kent façade for fun, stylin’ Superlibrarian.

Networking

The hospitality suite: when you arrive at the hotel you might find yourself feeling road weary. You probably have a fantastic new book in your carry-on and some comfy pants calling your name. Fight it. Go by your room to drop your bags, freshen up, then head to the hospitality suite. When you arrive there, grab a snack and a glass of wine and get ready to mingle. It might be uncomfortable at first, but putting faces with names and learning who you might have some things in common with (single sex? Elementary, middle, or upper?) can open up doors to meaningful conversation and perhaps even genuine friendships by the end of the conference.  Not your first time? Look for new faces and make them feel welcome. Revel in reconnecting with old friends and putting listserv names with faces, but look for conference newbies to draw into conversations. I really appreciated those that did this for me my first year.

Meals and bus rides are equally valuable. Even if you are an introvert, don’t miss this opportunity to connect. At times, these conversations can be as educational as the workshops that you will attend.

Talk to boys! Men tend to be in the minority at our conference. It’s uncomfortable to be in the minority. Ladies, let’s make sure we’re making them feel welcome and included as well.

 Practical Advice

Carry a notebook or device for note taking at all times. When you’re on the bus and someone starts talking about a fantastic book they’ve read that you or your students might also like to read, write. it. down. You probably think you’ll remember. You might. But if you’re like me and your “brain plate” gets full, these details might fall right off. I also take people’s cards and write on them what it is we discussed and anything that I want to follow up on when I get home. It will help, trust me. Try to sit with someone new on the bus each time. It’s quality time built into your day as you travel.

Bring a camera or device to take pictures. Take a picture of the name of the library before you start snapping away—you might want to email the librarian to discuss specifics later. You will see some awesome displays, new titles, furniture, spaces, quotes, technology, programming, etc.  Take pix of slides in a presentation if they are particularly good or relevant to something you’re interested in. Record all of this inspiration to recreate in your own space or to include in your conference report when you get home.

Take pix of student art to share with your art teachers. Do the same for other student work displayed in the library or on campus that might inspire a class project. Innovative recycling program in San Fran you say? Bring it to your school! I first saw Read posters done for middle and upper school teachers of the year at a school I visited during an AISL conference and that became an awesome tradition at my last school. Reading programs, book displays, ways to integrate book carts into 3D book displays, tech integration…pix are always good to show administrators great ideas in action when you get home.

Use social media to engage in conversation with our colleagues who are unable to attend this year (#AISL2014 @AISLDFW)

Have FUN, but not too much fun. Be remembered for your fabulous ideas, not for your fabulous table dance moves. 😉

Take advantage of every opportunity offered to you. The planning committee has spent an incredible amount of time and energy thinking through what you should see and do in their town. Even if you’re really tired, push yourself to go on that tour, visit that museum, see that sight. Some of my favorite AISL memories include seeing Niagara falls for the first time, visiting wine country, touring the Country Music Hall of Fame, catching a Rockies game in Denver, dancing the night away with a 360 degree view of the San Francisco skyline, and touring the Naval Academy last year, just to name a few. [Note, I missed Las Vegas because I had a new baby. There are surely some good stories from that one.]

I absolutely love this conference. It is my professional ‘cup filler’ for the year. To avoid information overload, I come back and choose 3 action items to either begin on immediately or to plan for the next year. I keep my notes and refer back to them at least once a year. It’s amazing to see some of the same issues from my first conference in ’07 still relevant today.

These are just some of my suggestions for getting the most from your time in Dallas. What did I miss? Please share comments, questions, or suggestions of your own below. Until then, I’ll pack my boots and sing…

“The stars at night, are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas!”