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Librarianship Is About People (MLA12 Seattle: New Members Breakfast)

May 23, 2012 1 comment

My first real event at my first ever MLA conference was, appropriately enough, the New Members Breakfast, at the ungodly early hour of 7am. Thankfully I was still on East Coast time, so for me that was the much more sane 10am.

I want to share what I gleaned from that semi-formal meeting.  Maybe you’re a student who has yet to go to MLA or will be attending for the first time next year or maybe you’re just curious what they’re telling us new-folks nowadays.  In any case. Here are my notes from the breakfast.

The most important thing as a new member is to think about what you would like to get from MLA.  It’s here to help you in your profession, so think clearly about what it is that you want your career to look like.  Once you’ve figured this out, volunteer, accept committee appointments, get involved.

What’s the difference between a section and a SIG?

They’re both arranged around an interest, but sections are much more formal, they follow all the rules, and they ask for dues of $10 to $25.  SIGs (special interest groups) sit around and talk about the area of interest.  Their meetings are open to everyone.  This is the easiest way to get involved, plus they are free.

Colleague Connection is mentoring.  We’re probably too new to mentor ourselves, but you may want to sign up for a mentor.

Professional Recruitment and Retention Committee (PRRC) exists to get people to join the profession.  It also hosts and organizes the resume clinic.

Lucretia McClure closed out the breakfast.  She is evidently a legend in medical librarianship, although I didn’t know this at the time.  I certainly suspected it, since she is elderly and also has a real presence in the room.  Her speech was powerful and energizing.  I’ll do my best to summarize it next without bullet points, although of course Ms. McClure was far more eloquent than this.

Librarians must be better than ever.  We most know more and do things we never studied.  However, librarians’ edge is that we are people, not machines.  We are the most curious people in the world.  Remember as you attend this conference that the people around you are going to be your colleagues for the next two to three decades, and they want the same things you want.  Personal face to face communication is increasingly rare and special.  That’s what we get at MLA annual.  As you move forward in your career, get yourself prepared for changes and be willing to adapt or you will be unhappy.  A thinking librarian is the best resource in the library.

Remember one thing: People count.

Stay tuned for my notes from Plenary 1 (President’s Address).