NMRT Executive Board Meeting at the ALA Annual Conference
By Alice Wasielewski
The New Members Round Table Executive Board Meeting at the 2009 ALA Annual Conference began at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, July 13 in the Palmer House Hilton. It was attended by more than 20 people, some arriving late or leaving early. Laurel Bliss, 2008-09 NMRT President, called the meeting to order.
Bliss explained that the ALA Annual Conference and Midwinter Meetings will be shortened by one day, and there will be some changes to the NMRT schedule as a result. The Executive Board meeting will likely be moved from Monday to Saturday for both the Midwinter and Annual Conferences.
Networking Director Linda Crook reported that she had attended the Emerging Leaders subcommittee meeting on July 12. She spoke to them about NMRT’s proposal to offer NMRT memberships to all Emerging Leaders beginning with the class of 2010 in addition to the Round Table’s existing sponsorship of an individual Emerging Leader. The proposal for NMRT membership was well received by the subcommittee.
Terri Kirk, the NMRT Liaison to the ALA Executive Board, gave a detailed report. ALA Annual attendance was up at the last minute and was higher than attendance at the 2007 Annual Conference in Washington D.C. Overall ALA membership is down 2.8%, but student membership and YALSA membership have both increased. The 2009-10 ALA president, Camila Alire, is focusing on advocacy on the front lines and is also trying to raise money for Spectrum Scholars. Information on the stimulus money for libraries can be found at www.ala.org/knowyourstimulus. Terri complimented the dedication of ALA staff who have faced the elimination of ten positions, salary freezes, and a mandatory week-long furlough. The ALA Virtual Conference only had about 30-35 attendees, but its committee is looking at things that would work well in the future. The Core Competencies of Librarianship were approved at Midwinter and have gone to the Committee on Accreditation for approval. The Freedom to Read Foundation is currently without a leader due to Judith Krug’s death but may start advertising in the fall. Kirk asked if there was anything that the NMRT Executive Board wanted her to share with ALA, which resulted in some discussion of the new group of “Young Turks” and what relationship they have to NMRT, as most of the Executive Board was not very familiar with them. Because this was Kirk’s last meeting as the NMRT’s ALA Executive Board Liaison, she expressed how much she enjoyed her service. The Executive Board thanked her warmly for doing an excellent job.
Anne Robert, 2008-09 Leadership Director, asked if the All-Committee Meeting will still be held if attendance is low. Courtney Young, 2008-09 Vice-President/President-Elect, said that she is envisioning collapsing NMRT events with low attendance. The Meet and Greet could be combined with the All-Committee Meeting and the Membership Meeting to make a Membership Networking and Committee Interest Meeting for Midwinter Saturday or Annual Sunday.
ALA Director for Membership Development John Chrastka spoke about the success of the NMRT desk at the front of the membership pavilion. Chrastka said that the Text-A-Librarian service had also really taken off but that they had trouble staffing in the evening, which is when the most questions were received. This past spring he started a data-driven welcome e-letter, which will continue, as well as a welcome letter to new ALA members who are not members of NMRT. There is also a marketing program to reach lapsed members of ALA because member reinstatement numbers are low.
Laura Kortz reported on Career Connections and said that 2008–09 ALA President Jim Rettig wanted to extend the Resume Review Service (RRS) to all of ALA and possibly use ALA Connect to allow résumé reviewers and review seekers to contact each other without an intermediary. There has been some experimentation with this model, which is off to a somewhat slow start, but RRS also had a slow start. Review seekers have not been hesitant about posting their résumés openly under this new model, but reviewers are reluctant to post their comments. There is a real need for an expansion of the Résumé Review Service because the service is in high demand as a result of the slow economy. At this year’s conference all slots for in-person reviews were filled by Saturday at noon and there were more than 70 people on the waiting list.
Amy Gonzalez Ferguson, the 2008–09 NMRT Treasurer, gave her report on the budget. There was some discussion about where to post the budget so that the Executive Board can access it. ALA Connect was named as a good possibility. Membership, NMRT’s main source of revenue, is down to 1,818. There was no student reception at ALA this year, so the money for that event was left in the same budget line. NMRT’s budget previously included $400 for the Annual Social, which took the form of the Awards Reception on July 12, 2009. 3M was unable to fund the Social this year but still funded three recipients of the 3M/NMRT Professional Development Grant. The Footnotes newsletter is moving to online only, so there will be some savings from printing. There was some discussion as to what to do with the savings, and it was agreed to move that money to the Annual Social budget. Kim Sanders, NMRT’s ALA Staff Liaison, gave a performance report and expressed concern about the revenue stream since dues are the largest part of revenue and their total amount is difficult to predict.
As the last order of business, Courtney Young presented a proposal to replace the current Handbook entry for the Liaison Coordination and Support Committee with a new one she drafted in consultation with Outreach Director Erin Ellis and Laurel Bliss. The proposal also requested that the entry for liaisons be removed from the Handbook. The new entry would consolidate the entries for liaisons and eliminate the liaisons’ obligations to write reports to committees. The proposal was passed unanimously.
The outgoing Executive Board members were thanked and the new Board members were welcomed. The Executive Board adjourned to carry on its work for 2009–10.