With reference to Christina Pommer’s great blog post on Podcasts earlier this week, maybe we should approach Slate to arrange an interview with some independent school librarians … you know, in the spirit of full disclosure and stereotype busting 🙂
At this point in the summer, we’re all in various stages of unwinding or gearing up for the next school year, so what better time to offer the first of many updates from your AISL Board?
As a result of all the great feedback you provided in our membership survey earlier this year (192 respondents), we have a clearer idea of how the Board can support you in your independent school librarian career. Here is an overview of some of our initiatives:
Enhanced orientation package for new members. Several of you commented that you were not aware of the range of resources and PD opportunities AISL provides. The volume of listserv posts can be overwhelming at times (resist that temptation to delete!), so we’d like to ensure that members understand the many benefits of AISL right from the moment they join. Priceless … well, actually it’s USD $30, but what a bargain! We will outline the value of the listserv, blog, wiki, annual conference, Summer Institute, etc., so you are aware of and can access information as you need it throughout the year. I will work with Jean Bruce on this initiative, but you should be aware also of the many behind-the-scenes contributions Jean–this year’s deserving Marky Award winner–makes to AISL as treasurer. She and Claire Hazzard (former AISL Board technology director) were instrumental in the launch and maintenance of our new WildApricot website, the annual membership renewals, the registrations and funding for the annual conference and the Summer Institute, and much more. Just so you know!
A mentorship program. 50% of survey respondents are enthusiastic about participating in this program, either as mentor or mentee. The logistics and time commitment of a program like this can be challenging, so we are working to create a simple, flexible offering that is entirely voluntary. Watch for an email from Allison Peters Jensen with details of a pilot project this fall, and please speak up if you have insight or experiences to share – we are working together to share our expertise as both our libraries and we continue to adapt to new circumstances and newer technologies. Please use the “Comments” section below if you have up-front advice!
Conference Affordability Scholarships. Beginning in 2016/2017, we will offer not one but TWO scholarships for first-time AISL conference attendees. Often we are members of this association for years before we attend an annual conference – so here’s your chance to receive $1,000 to help cover your first conference registration, transportation and hotel accommodation costs. Watch your email for details from Phoebe Warmack this fall; when the application form is circulated, there is a hard deadline for applications, as we need to review and select the recipients while the “early bird” registration fee is still in effect (so these dollars go further). All you have to do in exchange for this cash donation is attend the conference and prepare a blog post to share your first-time annual conference experience here with other AISL members.
Interested in hosting an Annual Conference or Summer Institute? We are thrilled that we have a great line-up of conference hosts for the next few years: New Orleans (2017), Atlanta (2018) and Boston (2019). We also have hosts for the Summer Institute: New York City (2017) and Los Angeles (2018). But if you’re interested in organizing a committee to host either of these events in future, let us know! The AISL Board has produced a step-by-step planning guide for hosting an annual conference (kudos to CD McLean and Jean Bruce for their hard work on this!), and a similar guide is underway for hosting a Summer Institute, thanks to Katie Archambault (host of this year’s SI) and Linda Mercer (founder of the SI). These guides provide a framework for organizing an AISL event, and allow you to benefit from the expertise of past event organizers. We also provide an opportunity at each annual conference for the current hosts to meet with the organizers of the following year’s conference, with an AISL Board member in attendance to provide additional support. Renee Chevallier has been doing a great job liaising with conference planners to ensure everything is on track, providing support and advice as needed.
How about managing a social media channel for AISL? Following in the footsteps of CD McLean, AISL innovator extraordinaire, for the past few years Claire Hazzard has done an unsung but awesome job of maintaining and innovating with the technologies to support AISL. She has had assistance from other unsung contributors like Brian Collier (wiki) and Barbara Share (this Independent Ideas blog), and as Claire transitions out of this role, she is now joined by Christina Pommer to lead the Board’s technology forward. Over the next few months, we anticipate opportunities for new volunteers to manage social media channels like Facebook or Twitter under Christina’s direction. Christina will put out a call for interested applicants, so please consider volunteering your time and expertise to help grow our association.
Even retirement offers no escape! Thanks to the advocacy of retired AISL member Milly Rawlings and the enthusiastic survey response from retiring AISL members, we are piloting a “retiree track” at next year’s annual conference. Retired AISL members (a new membership category introduced last year, with a lower annual fee that offers continued listserv access) will have the opportunity to join a concurrent but separate program in the host conference city, which offers some overlap with the annual conference and will provide continued networking to share expertise. As the organizer and lead cheerleader for this KARL (Kick-ass retired librarians) initiative, Milly will provide details of the inaugural event this fall as she works out a program in conjunction with the New Orleans conference planning team. Stay tuned for good times, as we welcome back many of our recently-retired colleagues who are keen to stay connected.
But wait, there’s more! (Just like the K-Tel ad promises) We understand that we need to better communicate the work of the volunteer AISL Board, not just for accountability purposes, but also to foster interest so new members can be attracted to the Board as people’s terms end. To begin, we will enhance the info provided on our website to include the terms of office for Board members, with links to bios and position descriptions. In spring 2017, there will be an opportunity for new members to join the AISL Board in an “at-large” capacity, as existing Board members will be moving into executive roles. In case you haven’t heard, I’m delighted to introduce Katie Archambault as the president-elect of AISL — she will assume this new role after next year’s conference in New Orleans. We will be in good hands with Katie at the helm, as she will combine continuity with innovation moving forward. But no president can do this alone, as the ongoing success of AISL is truly the result of a consistent team effort. We hope in the months and years ahead you will consider joining the Board as opportunities arise – we strive to attract representation from across North America and welcome librarians at all stages of career development.
On that happy note, I’ll head off to pack for my Newfoundland camping trip. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and all the best for a smooth transition into the new school year.
Sandy Gray, AISL Board President, 2015-2017
Head Librarian, St. Michael’s College School, Toronto, Canada