Conferences, Professional organizations

The strangest #AISL22 ever

(for me, anyway)

Usually this is the time when I’m going through my chicken scrawl, typing up my notes and trying to make sense of what presenters are doing in their schools that I can transfer to my school. Not this time.

After Tampa presented a virtual #AISL21, the call went out to all members to help create #AISL22 – also virtual. I had some thoughts (ok, when don’t I?), plus I’ve organized conferences before and I’m a relatively organized person good at taking notes and tracking things…. so I raised my virtual 🤚and volunteered, not just for the committee but as a co-chair. Turned out to be a tri-chair thing, which was perfect, particularly since one of the others was primus inter pares… until she got a much better job offer and left school librarianship. Luckily, the other committee members were gracious enough to give the two co-chairs left time to catch up with planning.

We had meetings every month, discussing schedules and technology and prizes and promotions and sponsors. We emailed and spent hours preparing… running things over Whova meant a learning curve, not to mention figuring out who would “host” each session (and would it be a session or a webinar or ??). Suddenly it was February and one month to conference… then one week until conference… and then (GULP) 24 hours to go.

From a behind-the-scenes perspective, it went relatively smoothly. There were some glitches but we were able to figure things out. Sessions got recorded and are being uploaded as I type. Attendees got to socialize on the Whova platform and during some sessions, billed as “Breakfast with a Librarian” and “[Division] Roundtable”, both in lieu of the bus conversations we so cherish.

However, being behind-the-scenes, being one of the two technology people and one of the co-chairs, I got very little from the actual conference. Yes, I “attended” many sessions. But there wasn’t enough time for me to take in the brilliance and wisdom of my peers. Peers? Well, no, they’re doing things I can only imagine doing, so they’re on a level above me. Far above me.

So, like all the attendees who couldn’t make it to every session block because they were multitasking by staying at work, teaching and doing their jobs while dipping into the conference and those attendees who had to choose between too many great sessions counterprogrammed, I’ll be spending time watching the sessions. Taking notes. Trying to figure out how to adapt the ideas to my practice and program.

I’ve organized in person conferences and gatherings. I’ve been part of planning committees. I’ve never done anything quite like #AISL22 before, and I’m in awe of anyone who has done several of these. My biggest takeaway? It’s all about the committee. Despite hospitalizations (personal and familial), teaching, COVID, time differences, and no precedent to build on, they were inspiring and amazing and such great people to work with.

While personally this may have been the strangest #AISL22 ever, but it was also, in many ways, it was the best.

1 thought on “The strangest #AISL22 ever”

  1. It seems you’ve learned equally worthy things that apply to working with or school colleagues, Laura. In any case, from my perspective, the conference was brilliant and fun – thank you for all that “behind-the-scenes” magic.

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