When is a Cheez-It Not a Cheez-It? Some highlights from AISL23 (with links for at-home exploration)

I am so grateful for the collaborative learning that takes place through AISL. I learn so much from our communications and from the relationships I have been blessed to build within the group. As a friend said yesterday, there is nothing quite like the “process of sharing our work, having other people iterate on it, and then being able to ‘steal’ it back.” The conferences provide a particularly dense opportunity to share, iterate, and “steal” (a.k.a., re-share).

For those who either could not make it, or who could not be everywhere at once in Santa Fe, I thought I’d (re-)share some highlights of the conference. Not everything will be here, but welcome to a random sample of appreciated moments – “random” as defined by asking all four other AISL attendees who happened to be sitting in the waiting room with me at the Santa Fe airport on Wednesday evening! 😉

If you are not linked here and presented at AISL23, please consider sharing your slides in the comments section so that other members can learn from you, as well!

“Research Process As Product” by Sara Kelley-Mudie (Librarian and Educational Technology Specialist) and Sadie Weinberger (Upper School Teacher, Global History and Social Sciences), Beaver Country Day School – if ever there was a set of food analogies to make your stomach growl and your research practice grow, this was it! This run through a 10-day, process-based collaboration in historical research had many specific strategies to help students slow down and develop, practice, and reflect on skills for searching, selecting sources, notetaking, and more. I happened to catch the famous Cheez-It/source analogy (original idea courtesy of Courtney Lewis) on video:

Sara and Sadie share the Cheez-It analogy

I’ve heard that colleagues are already looking at to their budgets for charcuterie boards so they can offer PD and drive home the idea of what databases actually are with a metaphorically appropriate snack! Participants are excited to relay a broad range of strategies from this presentation to their colleagues and figure out how and where to implement them at school.

“What Happens When a Superhero Librarian Gets Tired?” Jen Dawson and Laura Marmorstein, Cranbrook Schools — Colleagues found it meaningful to acknowledge something typically not mentioned: burnout at a job you love. The goal of the session was to think about how to reinvigorate yourself, and included concrete strategies. Some of the working materials in this session came from Elena Aguilar’s book, The Onward Workbook, so you can look at the website and the book for materials to support the attached slides. Ultimately, Dawson and Marmorstein created an environment that enabled really positive connections among people. With the addition of a goodie bag of stickers, noisemakers, and magic wands, participants left with a sense of connection and renewed enthusiasm. So: find a librarian friend, connect, and reinvigorate your own practice! (And go big with a magic wand or sparkly pencil, maybe some stickers, of your choice!)

“School Librarians as Instructional Coaches”: Chris Young (Director of Libraries) and Kate Turnbull (Director of Professional Learning) of Metairie Park Country Day School
argued that the job of instructional coaching maps directly onto the work we already do as curricular collaborators. Additionally, participants took inspiration from this example of strategically reimagining what a team can look like in order to achieve staffing or other goals that are otherwise out of reach.

“Let Them Help: Students Behind the Desk“ Kimberly Senf (Senior Librarian)
Elmwood School: Participants were impressed by Senf’s well-rounded system. “Her student volunteers did so much for her, and she developed a functional system – she might not even be in the room when they were helping her out!” The session broke down the logistics of her program in great detail – from sign-up forms that asked applicants at what jobs they thought they would excel to her methods for training shelvers. Participants appreciated the advice to look beyond just our good readers when considering volunteers – non-readers can also bring wonderful skills into service for the library. Although the session was about high school-aged volunteers, participants could imagine their oldest students (4th graders, in this case) being able to contribute to display design and other tasks around the library. Thanks, too, to the participant who shared that her volunteers love having special nametags to wear when they are working.

“What Makes a Comic a Comic,” from Bram Meehan, of Bram Meehan Design, Writing, + Direction, was a dynamic exploration with a lot of hands-on activities. Participants learned to define a comic by sketching one out for themselves. If you like classes with learning by doing, you might want to take a look at these slides as a model. You can learn more about his work at https://www.brammeehan.com/.

Finally, participants wanted to send a heartfelt thanks to our hosts and organizers. We sometimes forget that an intentional component of the AISL conference is for regions to show off their local culture. In particular, this conference we stayed in an historically significant hotel, and even had a talk from a staff member about the history of the building and the companies that built and maintained it. Several participants shared that they found ways to go hiking in the area, and we had chances to visit local museums. For those among us who had only ever experienced Geogia O’Keeffe’s flowers, this was a change to go deeper into her work. For many of us, the pace and style of life in Santa Fe did juxtapose with our own community’s pace of life – it was exciting to experience a new way of being. In addition, it was so much fun to see the ways that students in different local schools contributed to the co-creation of their libraries’ cultures. Thank you to everyone who gave of themselves, shared their spaces, and brought us along for the ride!

Thank you to experience contributors Jole Seroff (Castilleja School), Jill Maza (Montclair Kimberley Academy), Megan Kilgallen (Packer Collegiate), Amy Pelman (Harker School), Kristen Robb (Poly Prep Lower School), and Sara Kelley-Mudie (Beaver Country Day School). And thank you to all the presenters who gave permission to post their documents here for the whole group!

4 thoughts on “When is a Cheez-It Not a Cheez-It? Some highlights from AISL23 (with links for at-home exploration)

  1. Thank you for this helpful round-up, Tasha – it was lovely to see you in Santa Fe. You forgot to include a great session on visual note-taking though 🙂 I’m grateful for the learning and the inspiration!

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