In youthful naivetÃ©, I assumed being a new member of the profession (and ALA) that I would just go to Midwinter, attend some stuff, get involved, etc. My brother moved to Philadelphia a few months ago so it sounded like a great time to make a visit to him and attend my first ALA conference as a professional. So why do I get the feeling Iâ€™m not actually invited?
ALA does make a big deal about saying that Midwinter is for â€œhandling the business of the associationâ€ so I wasnâ€™t in the dark about that; I just somehow assumed that by being a member I was therefore a part of said â€œbusiness.â€ Now, Iâ€™ve never been to Midwinter of course, but it seems from looking at the bits of program information I can see online that there are plenty of meetings going on hosted by various sections â€“ but am I allowed to go to any of them? I am a member of ACRL of course, and even of a specific section as well, but Iâ€™m not even sure if anyone would let me in the doors of their business meetings. Would it be a waste of my time (and travel budget) to go at all?
Again, Iâ€™m new here, so Iâ€™m still figuring out how all this works. But it does seem to me that more could be done to encourage new members to get involved. I have received a newsletter and invitation to events from my section (thanks, LES), but I donâ€™t really know if I would have anything else to go to if I made the trip. From this distance it almost seems like Midwinter is an exclusive club closed off with bouncers and a velvet rope â€“ Sorry, Josh, youâ€™re not on the list.
I joined ALA and ACRL as a new professional specifically because I wanted to get involved. Iâ€™m aware that there are grumblings in the blogosphere (and regular-sphere) about how ALA doesnâ€™t actually return any real benefits to its members, and Iâ€™m also aware of the discussions of how virtual conferences and committee participation need to be embraced by the Association. Iâ€™m not old and cynical enough about the profession to think things like Midwinter are pointless yet – Iâ€™m here, Iâ€™m new, I have energy, and Iâ€™d like to get involved, so why is that so hard to do? It took a good deal of poking around to even find the ACRL New Member Wiki, which did have some decent information, but I feel like all the Associations could do a better job of telling their new members (once theyâ€™re in the door) how exactly it is they can really get involved. Perhaps a more pointed email could be sent to new members describing the workings of the Association, how committees are structured, what they do, how to get involved, and what exactly goes on with the â€œbusinessâ€ of Midwinter. I feel like I know nothing about what I can do at this conference, yet itâ€™s the only one I can go to this year (Anaheim? Are you joking?)
So, seasoned friends, should I bother taking the train (12 hours, though it is my preference) down to Philly? Will you let me lurk in your meetings or will beefy librarians toss me out on my ear? I have this platform to query the ACRLog readership, but what about the rest of the MLS class of â€™07 that has the enthusiasm but no clue how to get started?