Midwinter 2008: A first-time attendee’s perspective

By Dawn Amsberry

Although I have been a librarian in public and academic libraries for many years, I have only recently become involved with ALA—and attended my first midwinter meeting this year in Philadelphia. Midwinter is less formal, less hectic, and quite a bit less daunting than ALA annual. It was a great place to network, to meet new people, and to put names to faces.

First thing Saturday morning, I volunteered with the NMRT Resume Review Service as a greeter, and spent a very busy hour signing people up for appointments with reviewers. Volunteering with NMRT was a nice way to ease into my first midwinter meeting. I got a chance to help provide a valuable service, talk to people, and even give some job-hunting advice. I plan to volunteer again with NMRT at Annual in Anaheim this summer, and encourage new members to take advantage of volunteer opportunities.

Next, I made my way through the surprisingly sunny streets of Philadelphia to the LIRT TLT committee meeting. During the meeting, the committee welcomed new members, and discussed last-minute details for our discussion forum on Sunday. For lunch I attended Bites with LIRT, an informal gathering held at the Nodding Head Brewery. LIRT hosts lunches at inexpensive local restaurants during both Midwinter and Annual, providing newcomers and veterans alike a chance to enjoy good food in a friendly setting.

In the evening I got to indulge in one of my personal passions, listening to traditional Irish music. Fergie’s pub, a few blocks from my hotel, had a seisun (an Irish jam session) with excellent music, along with some tasty pub food.

On Sunday morning I attended the LIRT discussion forum, “Rules of Engagement,” on using virtual meeting software. We had a lively discussion on the roles of the moderator and participants, virtual meeting etiquette, and the pros and cons of meeting in cyberspace. Lunchtime meant another LIRT Bites meal, this time we feasted on dim sum at a local Chinatown restaurant.

Here’s my advice to Midwinter newbies: Talk to people! Even if you’re not on a committee, attend a meeting and speak up. Don’t try to do everything—pick the meetings and discussion groups that interest you most. And…volunteer! Rather than feeling lost and alone, you’ll help people and meet new friends.