AASL – Streaming and Teaming for Strong School Libraries

October 31, 2011

The trouble with agreeing to blog this conference is that the days are so chock full of great sessions and good friends that I can’t sit still to write— or maybe I’m just suffering from sensory overload and unable to slow down on my own! Cheryl Steele and Ty Burns did a fabulous job planning this conference—I haven’t seen a major glitch anywhere.

I enjoyed the Opening General Session on Thursday. Nicholas Carr, author of the “One Book, One Conference” selection The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, brought several interesting insights to our conversations about digital information and reading about which the library community has blogged and tweeted. Carr’s cautionary message was bookended (as Sara Churchill noted in a tweet)  by Closing General Session speaker Mimi Ito, whose research into how young people use digital media is explored in AASL’s  “One Film, One Conference” screening of Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century.

Friday’s independent school tour was excellent. I missed the one on Wednesday so I can’t compare them, but I’m very glad to have seen the vibrant programs at Breck School and St. Paul Academy and Summit School. The librarians at both schools clearly work hard to bring an enthusiasm for reading and an understanding of research to all the students from K–12. I especially loved the St. Paul 6–12 library, which has a strong collection of historical books available to students and an active 1:1 laptop program that I would love to emulate.

Saturday morning, I attended Buffy Hamilton’s streamed session on transliteracy. I look forward to a second viewing when the stream is archived because it was so meaty I will need a second listen to absorb all her insights.

The Learning Commons session with Judi Repman of Georgia Southern University in Statesboro was also an interesting experience. Three of us from the AASL Advocacy Committee and a few other interested folks were there to support Judi. It was enough to have a short but thoughtful offering of ideas about advocacy sources and ideas for future reference that Buffy streamed out live. I don’t think any of us will be trying for Hollywood soon—but we’d rather bring strength to school libraries anyway!

Thanks to Tom Corbett (Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, Massachusetts), Alison Ernst (consultant in Detroit), and Frances Jacobson Harris (University Laboratory High School, Urbana, Illinois) for working with me on the “Do Schools Libraries Need Books?” session, which we renamed “What Kinds of Books Do School Libraries Need?” We had strong attendance and were pleased that our different perspectives on questions about ebooks seemed to offer a broad understanding of the questions and a few answers. I think the streamed virtual conference was an excellent addition to the conference, and I hope folks unable to make the trip to Minneapolis will be able to enjoy the sessions anyway.

Saturday night was filled with a variety of vendor receptions. Thank you ABC-Clio, ProQuest, Bellwether, Capstone, and probably others; AASL truly appreciates your support, your materials—and your parties.

The finale

It’s amazing how the week has flown. I’ve so enjoyed walking the halls and running into my library friends as if we were in high school again.

Head to class, sit a bit and study on a nearby bench, look up to greet someone passing, and head to another class. Visit the “Exhibit Library” sometimes, too. The fact that we only get to do this with such intensity every two years doesn’t seem to matter: We are all beaming. The Learning Commons allowed a combination of face-time and virtual connection, so we could include our colleagues who couldn’t join us. That was a great bonus. And the Virtual Conference will be a great reference tool for the next few months, a way to benefit from the sessions we couldn’t get to in person.

By Saturday afternoon, my brain is filled with so many new ideas—many more than 17 Things to Chew On; lots of new spins on integrating digital and print resources; and information about the Research Project Calculator, a Minnesota open source effort.

I enjoyed a cup of tea and a moment of quiet before the big Closing Celebration party. Thanks to the Planning and Local Arrangements committees for all your hard work. This has been a great conference.

DORCAS HAND is librarian for Annunciation Orthodox School in Houston.