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.

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!

4 thoughts on “Top 10 List of Conference Takeaways

  1. These summaries of the various sessions are really helpful. Even though I attended the conference, there were sessions that I didn’t have a chance to attend. Thanks.

    • I am still learning tips from sessions I actually attended! It’s always good to hear what someone else got out of a session. Sometimes I’m thinking about the last bit a speaker mentions and then miss the next bit.
      Thanks for your comment, Cathy!

  2. Conference Takeaway addendum…any other thoughts?
    Notes on the Board Book Club Book: Research Strategies by William Badke

    I enjoyed reading the book that was selected for the Board Book Discussion this year—some the examples reminded me of my former incarnations as a theological librarian and a college English teacher. In my “just-in-time” mode, I read about half of the book on the plane and finished it in my hotel room after arriving in Tampa. One of the best takeaways was the clear explanation of the difference between keyword and controlled vocabulary searching; sometimes I choose not to take the time to explain this to students, but I plan to do so more often, and probably will use his examples. I also liked his analysis of current political forces and trends in publishing. There were lots of tips that I had not heard before, so I’ll compile them here:
    • The lists of open-access journals were good to compare with those we have through EBSCO Discovery Service; also interesting was the explanation of the philosophy of the open access movement (why should universities have to pay thousands of dollars for research that’s been publicly funded?)
    • Something to check out: OpenDOAR and the other directories described on p. 15
    • Web 2.0 sites such as Citizendium (a cousin of Wikipedia with signed articles) and Draft, a collaborative site that lets you maintain control of your own version of a shared document
    • The short list of free online reference sources from p. 35-36, which we checked out and are adding to our own compilation
    • The section on metadata and controlled vocabulary vs. keyword searching (mentioned above) had some great examples and tips
    • Also, good tips on evaluating internet sources, with a link to “The Internet Detective” at
    • Interesting points and examples on narrowing searches
    • Two things I didn’t quite agree with: he’s not crazy about discovery services (we’re very happy with ours so far), and he discourages paraphrasing in research papers (saying it’s better to summarize than paraphrase). I think it’s important to learn how to write a good paraphrase and incorporate it into a paper, cited correctly of course.

    • Bonnie, great comment on the Board Book! I also found it useful (in pieces) and also found inspiration to do more teaching about controlled vocabulary and the PROCESS of creating a productive search strategy. It was interesting to me to spend time on what we teach (when we get to teach).

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