NEAISL Conference Returns to Milton Academy after 42 Years
by Sophie Cloherty on Friday, April 29th, 2016
Two Fridays ago I was walking behind two peppy seniors headed to Cox Library. One had a neon blue backpack and the other had a pair of white vans that matched his sport crewneck. However, upon nearing the entrance, both the Class I students and myself were confused by a bold paper sign on the door that read: Library is Currently Closed for NEAISL 2016.
“CLOSED?! Aw well that’s a greenout,” said senior Will Powers to senior Michael Sabin , “what now?”
“I don’t know dude,” said Sabin (I), “That’s out. I have to write my whole lab due next period.”
“Want to get lunch?” said Powers (I).
And with that I watched both seniors slump back towards Centre Street.
Curious to find out the mystery behind the posted acronym and mysterious closing, I ventured through the double doors.
On Friday April 8th, Milton hosted the New England Association of Independent School Librarians (NEAISL) annual conference in Cox Library. According to Laura Pearle, Milton’s new Head Librarian, a group of librarians in the Massachusetts and Connecticut areas founded the conference around 42 years ago because they needed a place to get together and share ideas.
She goes on to tell me that Milton hosted the first conference in 1976, and again in ‘96. The back of the program she hands me reads, “See you in 2036!”— the next time Milton plans to host. “I certainly don’t plan on being here and I don’t think anyone who’s here now will be around,” she laughs.
When I walk in, the entrance to the library is lined with tables set-up with assortments of food and coffee dispensers. About sixty people are crowded into a lower level conference room, where a speaker is giving a slide show presentation. The program Ms. Pearle hands me says this is a Breakout session about implementing new technological tools.
Other events on the schedule include a welcome from Upper School Principal David Ball and student performances by the Middle School Speech Team. Keynote speakers included David Hegarty of Belmont Hill School, Mark Melchior of Cushing Academy, and Kelly Delpin of Derby Academy.
“Last year the keynote speaker was about change and embracing organizational change,” says Ms. Pearle, “this year it is not really a keynote speaker, it’s a keynote panel that is talking about collection development. Cushing Academy is coming to talk about their moving back to print. A couple of years ago the conference had the head of the American Association of School Librarians speak.” Last year the keynote speaker, Professor Peter Kuriloff, of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, spoke about the problem of personal and professional change.
According to their website, NEAISL is a loose organization that allows librarians to come together to share ideas, exchange experiences, and encourage change and system innovation. One of their goals is to “bring in librarians from all over New England who did not have ‘soul buddies’ to meet with.” The library plans to use what it learned at the conference to forge connections with other ISL schools. Cox library has been diligently updating its collections and sorting archives in a kind of re-organization process for the past year. . The current staff hope to continue the process, and Milton hopes to see NEAISL affiliates again in 2036!
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