Association of Independent School Librarians

Why choose the AISL conference?

Unlike large-scale library conferences that offer multiple streams of sessions and attract thousands of attendees to a conference facility, AISL is distinctive in offering an intentionally small (approximately 150 attendees) conference that is deliberately designed to showcase the distinctive  strengths of host schools. A team of volunteer members from schools in a region spend two years planning this three-day conference on a theme that suits their region, and thus each conference takes on a unique character. Attendees tour schools and their libraries, network with colleagues to share best practices, and participate in professional development sessions. Conversations continue on the bus and into evening socials. It is a professional conference that has led to many life-long friendships. The AISL conference is targeted and perfectly fulfills the unique needs of independent school librarians.

In an informal survey, attendees from past conferences cite the following experiences in their testimonials for attending an AISL conference:

  • The value of experiencing a variety of junior and senior school libraries with a focus on literacy and reading at the heart of their library program;
  • Observing different pedagogical perspectives on the value and role of the library from Heads of various schools;
  • The atmosphere of collegial sharing and support that continues via the listserv after the conference has ended;
  • Wonderment at how urban schools use and maximize space with ingenious innovations in architecture;
  • An emphasis on the arts, books and culture that is an inspiring change from business and technology;
  • Wonderful hospitality; informative workshops; thought-provoking keynote speakers and excellent programs.

 In short, the conference serves to confirm that our own library initiatives and directions are on target. It allows us to share best practices among institutions with similar missions and visions.  Attendees share a sense of celebration in our shared profession and accomplishments. 

A first-time attendee found: 

"The opportunity to visit other libraries was particularly inspiring for me. ... I felt the workshops provided not only were educational and inspiring, but a reminder of the endless and creative ways in which libraries can extend their reach in independent schools. The opportunity to share best practices with other librarians was probably the most significant takeaway for me. It is not often in this profession that you have the chance to talk “shop” and this time was priceless." 

Meanwhile long-time AISL member and current retiree Joan Turk reflects on a lifetime of experience:

“This organization and all of you, past and present, has meant so much to me.  AISL has made me a better professional and has enhanced my success in so many ways.  There is no more collegial group and no more fun-loving group!  To all who are new to AISL – stay with this group and become an active participant.  You will get far more than you give.”

Association of Independent School Librarians

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