NMRT Midwinter Conference Orientation – Get Involved!

By Jill Dixon

On Saturday morning, the NMRT Orientation Committee presented a session to provide a “more meaningful and less stressful” experience for ALA’s Midwinter Conference attendees, stated NMRT Orientation Committee Chair Laurie McHenry in her welcoming remarks.

Following a general introduction, everyone participated in an enjoyable icebreaker exercise. Attendees learned about each other by finding a person who had a specific skill, job, or life experience. The most challenging one to match was a “solo librarian.” Four winners received ALA Midwinter Conference t-shirts.

The first speaker was NMRT President Laurel Bliss. After thanking the NMRT Orientation Committee for their hard work, Bliss talked about the diversity of NMRT membership, which includes professionals from all types of libraries, library schools, and vendors. She also discussed ways to take advantage of the many professional development opportunities within NMRT, including networking, committee service, resume review, and publishing in the newsletter — Footnotes. NMRT guarantees a committee appointment, which is unique among ALA sections and round tables. Bliss also described current efforts to increase participation for those who cannot attend ALA conferences and encouraged suggestions.

Rebecca Sullivan gave an overview of the NMRT Resume Review Service. The service is open to all conference attendees. NMRT members can also use the email service. The review is performed by a librarian who works at the same type of library and has hiring experience. It’s a great way to gain valuable feedback to polish your resume!

Next, NMRT Local Arrangements Committee member Cory Lampert gave a terrific presentation on local historical sites, cool museums, fun hotspots, fine dining, and great shopping areas. This was followed by a brief Q&A session, which included inquiries about discussion versus interest groups and the Emerging Leaders Program.

Afterwards, ALA-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) Director Jenifer Grady focused on two ALA-APA benefits — salary improvement and certification programs. ALA-APA provides “better salaries” resources, including survey data, a tool kit and negotiation skills seminars. Grady described the Certified Public Library Administrator Program Certification as well as a future program for library support staff.

The final speaker was ALA President Jim Rettig. During his tenure, Rettig hopes to expand ALA opportunities for all members. New programs and projects include the Grass Roots Programs at 2009 ALA Conference and ALA Craig’s List for various interest groups to share information. He recommended going to his website— http://www.jimrettig.org/ — to learn more about his presidential initiatives.

Rettig also challenged NMRT members to dedicate themselves to a “life of service,” along the lines of President Obama’s recent call to action for our nation. He suggested that attendees ask themselves these two questions — “Is this organization better than when I joined it?” and “How did I contribute?” He encouraged all to get involved and help transform the libraries of the future.

The orientation closed with representatives from numerous ALA sections and divisions standing by to informally answer questions about their respective groups. The session was educational and fun for all!