For First-Timers: NMRT Conference 101 Session

by Kelly Kroese

As a first time ALA conference attendee, I was looking forward to the NMRT Conference 101 session that was held on Friday afternoon.

The room was huge and packed with first-timers. We were all looking forward to learning how to navigate our way through this massive event, and I don’t think we left disappointed. We were greeted by friendly faces holding NMRT tote bags—our gift for attending the session. There were a couple of tables set up at the entrance with information on ALA’s different divisions and roundtables. It felt a little like college recruitment day in high school.   

It was obvious from the session that the behind-the-scenes-people are very busy at ALA Annual! Unfortunately, one of the speakers, John Chrastka, ALA Director of Membership Development, never arrived. However, other speakers Nanette Donohue, Michael Golrick and Ernest DiMattia were well informed and able to fill in the gap. Ernest was especially informative about the importance of visiting with the vendors; apparently without whom our conference would be a very different and not nearly as rewarding experience.

The session provided me with some great ideas that were helpful for me to make the connections I wanted to make while attending ALA Annual. For example, Michael’s suggestion to attend All-Committee meetings and Regional meetings was invaluable. Now I hope to be accepted into the Emerging Leaders Program and to work with the AASL advocacy committee.

I hope everyone was paying attention to the speaker’s suggestions, because I think in sessions like this: you get what you put into it. Especially when Michael explained the conference program; it was practical advice that was very relevant when deciding to walk or take a shuttle. Some of those hotels were far away!

Overall, I’m not sure how much the larger audience learned from the session, but I followed my personal rule of “sit up front and ask questions” and I received the exact information I wanted.