Sunday, May 20, 2007

New Member's Breakfast

The New Member Breakfast gives those new to an MLA meeting an opportunity to meet with more experienced meeting goers and with their Colleague Connections. For those of you not familar with Colleague Connections, it is a kind of mentoring program for the meeting that matches a new member with someone who can help them gain more from the meeting and often goes beyond the meeting. Those attending the breakfast get introduced to MLA and get tips on becoming more active.

I met with my Colleague Connection, Tyla Tew, a Digital Content Librarian from VCU. Also joining us at our table was another librarian from her library - Alan Williams, Education Librarian. Both are new to MLA. It's delightful to see young, enthusiastic faces.

One sees many of the same faces every year. All of us have a good time mentoring new members. (Let me put in a plug here. Why don't your volunteer as a New Member Mentor next year and join the fun?)

Carla Funk, Executive Director of MLA, introduced the group to staff who can help them She mentioned that there are a record number of new members this year.

Jean Shipman, the current MLA President, spoke to the group. She mentioned that although she's attended many meetings, each meeting has its own nuance. And, one can collect new friends each year. She encouraged everyone to become active in the association. "MLA needs you and you need MLA." The remainder of the speakers gave tips about becoming more active.

Mark Funk, incoming President, mentioned his new agenda for MLA which he will talk about in his inaugural speech. It takes a long time to get noticed when you are new to the profession and the organization. People talk about paying your dues. But he has some ideas that might make it easier through using new technology like wikis and blogs to participate and get noticed.

Pam Reese - a representative from Chapter Council - encouraged new members to get involved on chapter level. She suggested that they might want to attend the sharing round tables at this meeting as a way to meet new people with like interests.

Jei Li - representing the MLA Sections -- echoed her sentiments. Sections are ways of becoming active based on issues of interest.

Shannon Jones is an example of a new member who decided that the organization need a new SIG (Special Interest Group) and formed the New Member SIG for those people who wanted to join other new members. MLA News has provided a new column for that group. She mentioned that there will be a get-together for that SIG at the Hard Rock Cafe across the street. (Sorry, I didn't get the day/time.)

As last year, the New Member Breakfast was honored with a short talk by a revered MLA Fellow, Lucretia McClure, who shared her "Pearls of Wisdom."

We do have the best in new technologies but often find ourselves being squeezed by commercial enterprises like new advances in music delivery, gaming, etc. We need to be more knowledgeable about all of these technologies and incorporate them into our libraries. We must outdo... -- missed that. (If anyone heard it, please comment.)
We [sic] librarians have the best minds; the most curious minds. Let's remember what Estelle Broadman wrote, "Money talks, but people count."
When Lucretia went to her first meeting, she didn't know anyone. So, she sat at lunch with different people everyday and soon found friends who are friends to this day. She mentioned that in getting to know the organization, reflect upon things that happen at this meeting. For example, the Janet Doe Lecture is named for someone very active in the organization. When you go to the awards luncheon, the awards are all named after MLAers who were very active.

Think about their accomplishments. And, if you don't know about them, you can easily go to PubMed Central and find them in the online Journal of the Medical Library Association.
There is change all around us, but the one constant is friendship in a professional association environment. You will have become a part of a vast association of like-minded librarians. If you need advice, we are here for each other. You can have real power as a member of an association.
People count - staff, users, colleagues.
A thinking librarian is the best resource in the library.

Look for new members who have a green ribbon affixed to their badges or maybe even bright shiny green Mardi Gras beads around their necks. Give them a smile and engage them in discussions. Make their first meeting one to remember.

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