In contrast to the larger AISL annual conference, the Summer Institute is an intimate opportunity for AISL members to learn about and reflect upon a single topic over a two-day period, during which the topic is the focus of a series of talks, breakout working sessions and group discussions. Speakers and discussion leaders may include national leaders, members of AISL, librarians from the community at large, and/or subject experts.
Attendees leave the Summer Institute with a clear overview of the topic, an understanding of the key elements and trends associated with it, a better understanding of how to implement initiatives, programs or policies into place in their own library and school, as well as the beginning of an outline, plan or policy.
The Summer Institute concept was proposed by Linda Mercer and an advisory group of AISL colleagues in 2011. The inaugural Summer Institute was held in St. Louis, MO in June 2013.
Past Summer Institutes Include:
June 2021: Incubating Creativity (Virtual)
Our first virtual Summer Institute was a workshop based on the book Incubating Creativity, by Erinn Batykefer and Laura Damon-Moore. Participants explored the why and the how for creating and sustaining a purposeful, creative library platform and space, and developed action plans to revitalize their own spaces and programs.
June 2019: Creating & Maintaining Rich & Diverse Library Collections for our Communities (St. Louis, MO)
2019's Summer Institute offered a deep dive into diversity in our collections; all attendees completed a diversity audit of their library collections. Attendees also heard from local students about what they want to see and read in their schools, and learned about trends in publishing as the basic tenets of diversity were discussed and examined.
June 2018: Critical Literacies (Culver City, CA)
Under the tutelage of Nora Murphy, Bobbie Eisenstock, and Connie Williams, forty-five members of AISL gathered in Culver City to learn about critical library literacies. Nora Murphy opened the institute with a workshop on source literacy that defined the term and posited that source literacy is central to teaching research. "At the core of every critical literacy is source material, i.e. the texts that drive our questions and determine how we will answer them. Source Literacy informs students' research trajectory and, ultimately, their thinking.” Bobbie Eisenstock emphasized the importance of media literacy to the study of source literacy in this environment of false and fallacious news, by teaching us that, “Media literacy strategies empower students to critically analyze and evaluate what they consume and create in the ever-changing participatory digital culture.“ Connie Williams closed the institute with inquiry. Advocating that, “forming the right question encourages learners to engage deeply in the learning process,” which guides the search for good sources. This institute explored the intersections between source literacy, media literacy, inquiry, and the library program, to help us effectively structure library instruction tools and skills to promote independent analytical learning and research.June 2017: Book Day (New York, NY)
Seventeen attendees from as far away as California and Florida all gathered in June 2017 for two days of discussion around the topic of organizing all-school reading programs based on the models used by Nancy Florio at the Berkshire School and Caroline Bartels at the Horace Mann School. Attendees discussed the following topics: budgeting the day, finding guest speakers, administration/faculty/student buy-in, and how to use our alumni networks and local networks for guest speakers. Many attendees already had all-school reading programs, but they wanted to explore ways to make their programs better. Others were coming to find out how to get a program started in their own schools. As one attendee noted after the Institute: "I wanted to thank you for an inspirational two days—I came back to [my school] energized and buzzing with ideas!" It will be exciting to see how many attending schools are able implement the ideas that we discussed, and I look forward to blog posts about the work the schools are doing to bring common reads to their campuses.
Check out Penguin Random House's blog post on Book Day 2017.
June 2016: Design Thinking @ Your Library (Troy, NY)
Thirty five attendees came from far and wide, from Hawaii to Maine, California to Connecticut, and countless states in between with a single goal: to learn the process of Design Thinking and to apply it to contemporary library challenges. Conference keynote Steven Bell notes that, “as librarian-educators continue their efforts to integrate the library into the teaching and learning process they will encounter change with technology, demographic change, user expectations and administrative oversight. Design is at its essence about change, and creating products, services and spaces that provide elegant solutions to big problems.” Attendees learned how to implement design thinking and tackled a variety of real life challenges: how to implement a library Maker Space, how to design a flexible space shared by students in grades K-12, and how to use the design thinking process to assist students in research topic selection, just to name a few. They left the summer institute invigorated, ready to put their ideas into play in their own libraries.
June 2015: Collaboration with Teachers: Librarians Academy (La Jolla, CA)
Hosted by librarian Sarah Lucy at The Bishop’s School, this “academy” gave participants a taste of the scholarly life and intellectual enrichment across disciplines, including Shakespeare, World War I, Climate Change, and the Global Economy, among others. It also facilitated the creation of lesson plans, tutorials or LibGuides to enhance the librarian’s relationship with both teacher and subject, based on new knowledge gained from the range of sessions.
Institute Leader: All sessions were presented by faculty of The Bishop’s School.
June 2014: At the Center of it All: Scaffolding Advanced Information Literacies for K-12 Students in School Libraries (St. Louis, MO)
Participants had the opportunity to learn, create, test and discuss various aspects of the broad topic of information literacy, facilitated by Hagerman, who has a deep understanding of the topic as well as something new to say.
Institute Leader: Michelle Schira Hagerman, a digital literacies researcher whose LINKS instructional framework [Learning to Integrate InterNet Knowledge Strategically] has attracted attention from teachers and app developers as a way to scaffold online reading and writing processes with multiple, multi-modal Internet texts.
June 2013: Measuring Your Impact: Using Evaluation for Library Advocacy (St. Louis, MO)
The first AISL Summer Institute offered members the opportunity to learn about and engage with methods, ideas and theories for determining, evaluating and quantifiably demonstrating the value of library programs within independent school settings.
Institute Leader: Betsy Kelly, Assessment & Evaluation Coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, MidContinental Region, and Associate Director for Health Information Resources at the Washington University School of Medicine’s Bernard Becker Medical Library.