Survey of Annual Meeting Programs for 1997 to the Present

In keeping with the Content Subcommittee’s assignment to review the current and past formats of SAA annual meetings, the subcommittee undertook a review of SAA meeting programs for the years 1997-2012.  The subcommittee looked at quantifiable aspects of the meeting—number of education sessions, attendance, etc.—as well as when specific events were held.   The data was compiled in two spreadsheets.  Observations and information that could not be presented in a spreadsheet appear in a word document.  The spreadsheets and word document are linked. 

We encourage everyone to examine both documents and leave comments and suggestions or even edit mistakes.  (I’m sure there are a few.)   Comments and suggestions can be made to the documents themselves or posted here.  The survey has already generated discussion on possible scenarios for new content formats. 

The survey makes evident many of the changes that have occurred over the last 16 years.  For example, prior to 2005, roundtables met on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  Until then, the meeting schedule was rather tight with brief intersession breaks and quick lunches and the days were long, usually beginning at 8 AM and ending around 6:30 PM.  The decision to move some roundtables to Wednesday evening in 2005 and then all roundtables to Wednesday in 2007 had a dramatic effect on meeting dynamics.  Days got shorter and lunches got longer.  There was more time to network and for informal midday forums and brown bags. 

On the other hand, the move required earlier attendance for many, not only roundtable attendees, but also committee members who now meet on Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings.  It may also have impacted Saturday attendance at education sessions.  In short, this one decision had major repercussions that were not limited to the meeting calendar.  As the task force moves forward with its recommendations, we need to be mindful of how a change in one area may produce unintended consequences in another area.

The Content Subcommittee is also conducting a comparative survey of session formats at other professional meetings.  The results of that survey should be available in the next few weeks. 

For the subcommittee,

Carl Van Ness

marqu897 says:
How great to have all this data!

Thanks to all the members of the Content group for all this work!  You attend every year, and you notice that something has changed, but you don't see the patterns.  This will be so helpful as we all ponder our recommendations to Council.

Kathy Marquis

Annual Meeting Task Force co-chair