As YALSA member Beth Gallaway mentioned in her comment on my post about getting involved in YALSA at Annual, just before Midwinter 2010 I wrote a YALSA Blog post highlighting the fact that YALSA is made up of a welcoming and friendly group of people.
As Annual is just a week away, really it’s just a week away, I wanted to once again point out the welcoming and friendly nature of YALSA members and member leaders. As I mentioned in that previous blog post, sometimes YALSA members can seem like a very cliquey group. But, that cliquey look is really because many of us have had the opportunity to get to know each other over several years and are excited to be finally talking once more face-to-face. If you think about it, the way we ended up looking like a clique was that sometime in the past each one of us walked up to another one of us and started a conversation. It can be scary and intimidating to do that, but it’s well worth it. If you are willing to take the plunge and walk up to a group of people excitedly talking during a YALSA event, you’ll find that what looks like a clique is a friendly group of people who are more than willing to bring you into the conversation.
But, it’s certainly not just the new person’s responsibility to do the hard thing and walk up to a new group of people, or even one individual, and say “hello.” YALSA members who are already active and already friendly with lots of other Association members, I’d like to ask you to look out for new people who will be attending Conference (and YALSA events) for the first time ever. Bring them into a conversation you might be having. Walk up to someone standing on their own and start a conversation. Remember what it might have been like for you as you got involved in the Association. Show those attending YALSA programs and events just how friendly and welcoming we are.
As YALSA has been doing for the past several years, Board members and staff will be ready to greet you at the Leadership Development and All Committee meetings. These meetings can be a little hard to walk into for the first time as they usually take place in large rooms and there are lots of people milling about. If you are new to these meetings, look for a YALSA Board or staff member at the door – we’ll be wearing ribbons that will let you know who we are – and we can help you to get started.
And speaking of ribbons, don’t forget to wear your badge at all events. As I mentioned in that Midwinter post I was probably one of the worst when it came to wearing my Conference badge when at events. But, I realized that without the badge I was making it more difficult for others to connect with me. By wearing the badge it’s easier for someone to walk up and start a conversation. Your name and where you work are easily visible. I can walk up to someone I’ve never met and say, “Hi Craig, we’ve never met but I’m Linda Braun. You work at (insert institution name here) I’ve heard great things about the library, what do you do there?” Just from your badge I am able to engage in conversation.
I’ve included my picture in this blog post so that you’ll know what I look like and can say “hello” at Annual if you see me. Anyone is invited to post their own photo in the comments so that more of us can start to get to know each other, at least by photo face, before we get to D.C. next week. The image on the left shows how to add a photo to a comment. If you need help with adding a photo you can contact me or YALSA’s Blog Manager, mk Eagle.
I’m looking forward to seeing lots of you at Annual. I’ll say “hi” and I hope you will too.