Terri L. Holtze
Assistant Editor, Footnotes
According to the NMRT Handbook, Goal #1 of the New Members Round Table is to provide opportunities for involvement and/or training for professional association committee experiences. This training includes familiarizing the member with the basics of committees work, the ALA committee reporting schedule, and parliamentary rules. By providing this training, NMRT gives its members the experience necessary to receive committee appointments on other professional committees. So our Tips & Tricks column for this issue is focusing on how to get the most from your NMRT committee work.
Get on a committee! Step one in getting the most out of your NMRT membership is to get on a committee. According to Anna Ferris, Chair of the Archives Committee, “A good committee member is someone who volunteers because they feel they can make a difference.” And conversely, “a bad committee member is someone who is only interested in adding a committee name to his/her [curriculum vitae].” So find a committee that you can really commit to. If you don’t know what committees are available or what they do, check out the committee descriptions in Section 4 of the NMRT Handbook. When you've decided which committee(s) you're interested in joining, fill out the Committee Volunteer Form. Sally Gibson, NMRT President, will respond to your request.
Join the listserv! Joining the NMRT-L listserv is a great way to keep current with what's going on in the organization. It is the primary way that NMRT members communicate to the group at large. To subscribe to NMRT-L, send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message type: subscribe nmrt-l Firstname Lastname. Do not include a signature file or any other text.
Get active! A survey of current committee chairs yielded some good advice for committee members. Michelle Fossum, SASCO Co-Chair, advised that members be pro-active and “constantly test how their committee can best reach its goals and objectives.” Stephanie DeClue, Handbook Committee Chair, points out that when a committee member shows “a recurring willingness to take on added responsibility and go the extra mile, I’m going to sit up and take notice of that.” And getting the chair to sit up and take notice is a really good idea because the sitting chairs often choose or recommend people as their replacements.
Virtual membership. In the best of times it can be prohibitively expensive for new librarians or students to make it to conferences. In tough financial times, it can seem impossible. Don’t lose heart! You can still be involved in NMRT committees as a virtual member. This is defined as a member who actively participates in committee work and communicates with the group online rather than by attending conferences. All of the chairs who responded to the survey indicated that they rely heavily on their virtual members. Fossum stated that a lot of the work occurs outside of the Annual Conference. While the chairs agreed on the value of virtual members, they also agreed that attending conferences is valuable as well. As Aaron Dobbs puts it, “The only part lacking for a virtual member is the camaraderie at conferences (which can be a big part of the whole experience.)”
So get ready to take an active role in NMRT. Dive in. Volunteer for a committee. If you’re a paying member of NMRT, this is how you get your money’s worth. Get the experience on an ALA committee that will help you create opportunities later.