The Annual Meeting Task Force has been busy organizing, finding good sources for information, and conducting research, so it’s high time we reported to you, the members of SAA and started this conversation about where we go from here! If you’re wondering what our charge is, please see the our page on the main SAA website (http://saa.archivists.org/4DCGI/committees/SAATF-AM.html?Action=Show_Comm_Detail&CommCode=SAA**TF-AM&Time=-1866235686). It’s a big one… But, in a nutshell, we have been given two years to look at a number of aspects of SAA’s annual meeting, come to some conclusions about what seems to still be working well, what needs to be retooled, and what should be scrapped altogether, and then make our recommendations to Council. The four major areas of our investigations are: meeting model, meeting content, online access, and social responsibility.
The impetus for this investigation came from many sources. Council, and Executive Director, Nancy Beaumont, address many individual issues each year related to the annual meeting: selecting venues and hotels, signing contracts, addressing evolving needs like wifi connectivity in our meeting places, signing vendors, responding to requests for new groups who will then need meeting times and spaces, etc. Combined with member feedback via surveys, individual comments, and discussions on social media, the time seemed ripe for a careful re-examination of the whole annual meeting concept and structure, by an appointed group; it was more than Nancy and Council could take on, in addition to their other duties. We know that this is a major interest out there, because Vice President, Jackie Dooley received 55 applications to be on this task force, and had the unenviable task of picking the final 27 of us to serve.
The task force has had one face to face meeting in Chicago of the main TF members, including the chairs of the four subgroups. It was very helpful to have a full day to raise issues, get to know each other, and talk with SAA staff about likely sources for the background information we will need. But, true to current modes of communication, this may be one of the few times we will all meet in this way. Just as we are looking at options like online or virtual conferencing, we will be sharing ideas and information with each other online most of the time. As we submit interim reports – or come upon interesting examples of new conferencing techniques, we will post them here on this site for everyone to look at – and discuss.
This is called the News section of our website, but we hope it will function as a blog. If you see something here that sparks your interest, please do comment. SAA members just log in and post comments. Not an SAA member? We’re curious about your opinions, too, as many members have posted on private blogs that their concerns about the annual meeting have kept them from joining SAA, or renewing their membership. Very soon, you will see a link to your right (“How to post comments if you’re not a member”) for instructions. In the meantime, just know that non-members can create an SAA “profile” with which to comment here (check first, you may already have one!) We’d love to have some of you back to the annual meeting, and your comments will be valuable in making it a better experience for everyone.
So, here’s a question to start off our conversation: we hear over and over that the most valuable experience for many annual meeting attendees is the opportunity to network with fellow archivists. This can be at receptions, in the hallways, or at social events away from the meeting. Believe us, we’re dying for the results of the member survey, due back soon, to see if this impression is validated by survey data. Nonetheless, when you are making your plans to attend a meeting, do you, instead, justify any financial support you receive by citing sessions and workshops you will be attending? Have you – or could you envision – making those same requests for support by citing the networking opportunities the annual meeting affords you? We really want to know what you think, and your responses will help shape our discussions about the structure and content of the meeting.
If you have made it through this long post, thanks for your patience. Now – what do you think?