I recently attended my first ALA conference this past January in San Antonio. As such, I planned to attend the New Members Round Table (NMRT) Orientation.
The orientation was held at eight in the morning on the first full day of the conference. Upon arriving, each attendee was given a canvas bag with lots of information, some of it pertaining to events at Midwinter while other concerned ALA in general.
Although there was an agenda for the orientation, it was flexible and allowed for ALA dignitaries and other guest speakers to speak as their schedule allows. After NMRT Vice President Amanda Roberts welcomed everyone on the behalf of NMRT and NMRT President Nadine Flores, who was not able to make it due to an accident, we heard from ALA President Michael Gorman. We had the opportunity to ask him questions, which several of us did, mostly on the topic of librarian education and its role in preparing library students to become librarians under various titles. As one NMRT person said, other divisions seek NMRT out, both to inform NMRT members about their activities, and to invite new members to join their division or round table.
NMRT Orientation Chair Kara Whatley had invited someone from the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) to speak about places to see and eat at in San Antonio. Of course theis person could not officially vouch for one place over the other, but Kara was able to get her to unofficially suggest places that served Tex-Mex or BBQ, the local specialties. After the guest speaker from the CVB left, Kara went on to say that convention centers, while convenient, are not known for inexpensive or quality food. She suggested packing cereal or snack bars for those instances when you have only enough time to get from one session to another. This was something I didn’t do this time around, but I would heartily agree with Kara, having experienced convention center food in the past.
The next person up to speak was the chair of the NMRT Resume Review Service (RRS), Dawn Lowe-Wincentsen. She passed out the Resume Review Service brochures and talked about the services offered by RRS at ALA conferences and via email. Both services are free, but the email service is restricted to NMRT members. RRS at the conference is open to all conference attendees and allows reviewees thirty minutes to meet with a reviewer who has significant hiring experience (see http://www.ala.org/ala/nmrt/comm/ResumeReview.htm). The service also looks for volunteers to greet and direct people who come to the booth, either as reviewers or for resources such as books on resumes and cover letters. There are also mints and a mirror for those about to interview.
As a recent booth volunteer, I can say that the first part of the Midwinter conference this year was very busy, with many resume review seekers. This meant that some needed to sign up for appointments later in the day or the next day. By Sunday, however, there were often more reviewers than review seekers. This was unusual according to Dawn and others who have volunteered, as it is usually busy all weekend. It was speculated that the email service that NMRT provides year round might have reduced the number of in-person visits.
The orientation ended on a light note with an invitation from Midwinter Social Chair Chrissie Anderson Peters to come to the NMRT social that evening at the Hard Rock Café. Those attending the orientation were also encouraged by Amanda Roberts to attend the All Committee Meeting that afternoon to see how NMRT worked in action.