ALA Midwinter reflections

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while now, but keep putting it off, maybe because I had such a great time at Midwinter that it’s tough to boil it down to a reasonable length. I took my own advice from my article on INALJ.com (wear comfortable shoes, beware the ARCs, use the job placement center, talk to people, socialize, go to the Youth Media Awards.)
First and most important, yes, I wore comfortable shoes. I was very thankful that I bought a pair of super comfy boots right before I left, since it was wet and snowy and cold. I brought home all the ARCs I wanted since I drove and parked my car right across the street from the conference center. When I went to Annual in Chicago last year, I got a ton of books and shipped them back home. The post office was kind enough to lose one of my boxes (with Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately, the Milk. Grrrr.)
I spent quite a bit of time in the Job Placement Center. Because of the snow, I showed up a bit late to the first session I wanted to go to on resume writing skills. It was informative, given by a human resources manager at Brigham Young. He gave me some good advice afterwards, albeit somewhat frustrating. I’m still trying to figure out how to get current library experience when I have a full-time job and a family to support. It’s not like I have a hidden cache of free time to volunteer. But that’s an ongoing problem for me.
I stuck around the placement center for the next presentation on the insider’s perspective of job hunting for academic library positions. The presenter, Brian Keith from University of Florida, reviewed the selection process and offered practical advice on cover letters and resumes. I found this presentation very helpful because I am a complete n00b when it comes to this process, and since I’m actively searching for an academic library position, understanding the process is crucial.
I went to several other presentations at the job placement center, but those first 2 were the most relevant and useful to me at this point in my job search.
I talked to a lot of people, but that’s nothing new for me. I made some new friends, learned about new groups, was encouraged to work harder within the association. Aside from chatting up randoms on the exhibition floor and in sessions, I socialized up a storm. For me, at this point in building my career, socializing is probably the most important thing to do. Our NMRT Social was a total hit. The place was packed; people were interacting, meeting for the first time ever or IRL. I managed to latch myself onto one person who let me tag along to the Librarian Tweetup, where I met even more people and had a blast. Then we were off to the EveryLibrary/Mango After Hours Film Fest and Party, which was amazing. I ran into a person I had met last year at a DCLA event at the Library Congress, met even more people, and danced (which is one of my favorite things to do.) And I learned that those Mango employees really know how to get their groove on. I also got a chance to socialize with some of my fellow INALJ.com head editors and realized we really are that cool.
The youth media awards were seriously awesome (as per usual.) I had already picked up Charm & Strange, but am committed now to reading several winners, including Eleanor and Park and Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, among others. You should read them too!

Overall I’m happy with my Midwinter experience. I went with the intention of gaining some job search insights/strategies and meeting people/learning more about the profession from professionals. I feel like I more than succeeded. I can’t wait until Annual!

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