In Mr. Tennant’s letter, he advocates finding fellow-travelers on the new librarian journey, to commiserate with, to celebrate successes with, to “serve as sounding board, support system, and inspiration”. He mentions that he did not find any value in being active in ALA committees, and avoided governance work.
Ms. Schneider, in her commentary, replies that ALA does offer a service to new librarians: “to give them a place to build peer relationships, learn teamwork, find out what they value in their peers, and mingle with people who are at various places in their professional lives.”
I had the great fortune to attend my first Annual Conference last year, as it was held ten miles from my home. One of my library school classmates traveled to DC, slept in my brand-new guest room, and endured untold harrassment from my cat, and we set out to tackle Annual together. We realized very early on that we had no idea what we were doing, what sort of opportunities we should be looking for, or how we could get the most out of our conference experience. Due to the vagaries of Metro travel, including rush hour and slowdowns for track work, we missed the one session the New Members Round Table was hosting on how to have a successful Annual Conference.
We had a good time, we managed to take in a couple of sessions, we enjoyed Ms. Morrison’s keynote speech and had far too much fun in the exhibit halls (though neither of us won an iPad). But I think that with the opportunity to get advice from others, we could have gotten much more out of the conference. And I think that there’s potential for many more opportunities to reach out for said advice that aren’t being presented currently – both within ALA and without.