New Members Round Table Midwinter Orientation Session January 20, 2007 Seattle, WA

By Catherine Fraser Riehle

For many ALA conference newbies, the NMRT Orientation is a must-attend. Early on the morning of January 20th, the first full day of ALA's 2007 Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, approximately 100 people congregated in the Grand Ballroom of the Westin Hotel to soak up the advice and friendly faces of NMRT members, leaders, and other ALA newbies alike. Conference novices, myself included, attended with hopes that the Orientation would ease feelings of overwhelm that had surfaced by the time we stopped at the conference registration counter and picked up our 190-page programs. The hour-and-a-half-long Orientation did not disappoint.

After a friendly "Good Morning" from Catherine Gardiner, the Orientation Committee Chair, attendees participated in an ice-breaking scavenger hunt that challenged everyone to meet a person in the room who qualified for each of about 20 categories. The activity, which was prefaced as a starting point for networking, had participants up on their feet introducing themselves and quickly discovering if their colleagues had traveled to foreign countries or donned any tattoos. The first person to successfully complete the scavenger hunt received free membership to the NMRT.

After the scavenger hunt, Dawn Lowe-Wincensten, Co-Chair of the NMRT’s much-appreciated Resume Review Service, encouraged attendees to take advantage of the service, offered directions to this year’s booth, and advertised volunteer opportunities for potential booth greeters and reviewers.

NMRT President, Amanda Roberts, enthusiastically greeted the crowd and encouraged all to become involved in NMRT committees. She also highlighted the Round Table’s diverse membership. Amanda concluded by mentioning a variety of special opportunities available to NMRT members, including publishing venues and professional development scholarships.

Next, ALA President Leslie Burger added her personal endorsement of involvement in NMRT, particularly for new ALA members. She assured attendees there is a place for everyone in ALA, and urged new members to get involved in the organization, even if sitting in on committee meetings pushes one out of his or her comfort zone. Ms. Burger concluded by describing several programs and projects in which she is currently involved, including the Emerging Leaders Program, ALA’s new public website (, and the planning of a National Library Agenda.

Nanette Donohue, Vice-President/President-Elect, also greeted the crowd. Nanette, who is currently making appointments in NMRT committees, mentioned in particular a need for volunteers in NMRT’s Marketing & Branding Task Force as well as the Internship Task Force. She encouraged attendees to fill out the volunteer form online or to contact her directly if interested.

Also on this year’s agenda was Alita Pierson, a former Seattle resident, who shared with the group a variety of fun and inexpensive places to visit while in Seattle. Alita highlighted downtown must-sees as well as nearby neighborhoods featuring cheap eats, famous statues, museums, and discount book stores.

Attendees were introduced to representatives from ALA divisions and roundtables, including ACRL, ALCTS, LAMA, LITA, and others. All were encouraged to visit with the representatives at their booths after the program to inquire about opportunities for committee involvement and the work of their committees.

The informative session ended with an enthusiastic presentation by Jenifer Grady, Director of ALA’s Allied Professional Association (APA). After passing out informative hand-outs, Ms. Grady highlighted the work of the APA, including certification, salary information, and the publication of Library Worklife, the organization’s monthly electronic newsletter.

After Ms. Grady spoke, attendees moved on to other meetings and events, no doubt feeling more informed about ALA, the NMRT, and the experience of attending a Midwinter meeting.