The mission of the New Members Round Table (NMRT) is to help those who have been association members less than ten years become actively involved in the association and the profession.
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Hello! I'm Ashley Granger, a member of the NMRT Online Program Committee! This month, we're talking about all things conference!
In June 2023, I was fortunate enough to get an educational award through my university to attend ALA for the first time and WOW - I had no idea how overwhelming it would! I was lucky enough to have a few coworkers who were also attending and had been there before and we met prior to the conference to go over some tips and tricks that really helped me, from what restaurants were the best to making sure you wear comfortable shoes because you'll be doing A LOT of walking! To add to those, I would suggest:
As I mentioned before, I received an educational award through my university, so check out what your institution has available. ALA also has scholarships available: General Scholarships. https://www.ala.org/educationcareers/scholarships/allscholarships as well as EBSCO: EBSCO ALA Annual Conference Sponsorship and the Freedom to Read Foundation: https://www.ftrf.org/page/Conable_Scholarship.
What are your best tips for conference attendees? What kind of funding have you found in the past?
------------------------------Ashley GrangerSr. Library Information Specialist & MLIS StudentUniversity of Missouri - Columbia School of Inf Science & Learning TechShe/Her/Hers------------------------------
What a great topic! Conferences can seem intimidating and it can be hard to know where to start- especially if you are by yourself, or only a few of you are coming from your library.
When pre-planning what sessions to go to be realistic! It can be hard to attend two sessions concurrently (are they far apart location-wise? Is one session on a popular topic that perhaps will have a large crowd? ) and attending two at a time is not possible! Also do not be afraid to (discreetly) leave a session if it's not what you expected or of it doesn't apply to your situation. It's ok!
If you work for a public library, ask if your Friends group provides funding for conference attendance. Oftentimes they can cover your conference registration fee, per diem or travel.
Maybe if you plan on arriving a little early, you can go over to the conference center and scope out the area- where are your favorite sessions taking place? Also, remember that NMRT provides a conference orientation session where we talk about conference sessions, but also the city where the conference takes place and social opportunities.
I will second what Morgan said - everyone told me that it's perfectly acceptable to leave a session as long as you do it discreetly and quietly! Especially if you were torn between two sessions!
Also want to plug that NMRT has 2 grants for people interested in attending ALA in June 2024 - The Professional Development Grant ($3k) and the Shirley Olofson Memorial grant ($1k) - more info here: https://connect.ala.org/nmrt/discussion/call-for-applications-to-attend-june-2024-ala-conference#bm1f4eadb6-1a22-448b-b9fa-04cab674d531
Applications are due December 1st, 2023.
Professional Development app: https://tinyurl.com/professionalgrant
Shirley Olofson Memorial app: https://tinyurl.com/shirleyolofson
I second everything that Ashley recommended! It's ok to feel overwhelmed and take a break - I felt like, "I spent all this money, I have to go to EVERYTHING" but I didn't end up enjoying some things and I didn't get as much out of it as I wanted. Take care of yourself and maybe prioritize things that are in-person only and mark things that are recorded/available to view later. Also - always make time for the poster sessions at conferences -- some really great ideas and if folks are there - really good conversations!
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