More, less, different? Preliminary recommendations of the SAA Communications Task Force

Today’s guest blogger is Beth Kaplan, SAA Council member and liaison to the Communications Task Force. The group’s draft recommendations were posted today, and we eagerly await your comments, which are due by 4 May. Please weigh in with your opinions! –Jackie

A few months back, my SAA Council pal Kate Theimer wrote an Off the Record guest post analyzing the verbatim comments received as part of the 2012 SAA Member Survey (of which synopses are available here and here). Here’s what she had to say about SAA communications:

 “Based on their comments, many SAA members want more or different modes of communication, both with SAA as an organization and with each other … it does not come as a surprise that there was no widespread agreement on whether members wanted more or less communication from SAA, or whether they preferred email, print, or … social networking. This is perhaps an indication that the organization needs to allow members to tailor for themselves how they want to receive information.

 Kate’s comment brought to mind the old saw about the two archivists stranded on a desert island. (Each formed their own professional association.) If there is a grain of truth to every stereotype, and in this case I think there is, then we have to wonder: how does SAA develop the capacity to satisfy a diverse membership’s appetite for communications–at once “more,” “less” and “different”–particularly when there is no consensus as to what those terms mean?

SAA President Jackie Dooley appointed the  Communications Task Force last August to draft recommendations  on “practical ways to enhance SAA’s communications with a focus on three areas: intended audiences, content/messages, and tools/channels.”  Since then, the Task Force members–Dara Baker (chair), Eira Tansey, Brad Houston, and I (doubling as the group’s liaison to Council)–have become intimately familiar with the full range of SAA’s print and online communications. We’ve conducted a communications audit, drafted environmental scans, and immersed ourselves in a heap of data, reports, and published literature about SAA’s and other professional organizations’ communications modes and channels. After working through all of this information, we drafted a set of preliminary recommendations, and now we are soliciting your review and comment.

Please take a look at our recommendations on the Task Force’s website. If you are engaged, concerned, opinionated, or even remotely interested in improving your professional organization’s communications, then this is your opportunity to weigh in. Your feedback will help us fill in gaps and set priorities in the next iteration of recommendations, which is due to the Council in May. You could have real impact in helping SAA communicate with its membership as effectively as possible. Our work is ongoing in tandem with updating SAA’s current strategic plan and preparing the 2013/2014 budget, so the timing is perfect.

Please share your thoughts in whatever way you feel comfortable. You can post comments below, here via the comment feature (at the very bottom of the page), take a quickie survey to express your preferences, send us an email at, or join the conversation on Twitter (hashtag #saactf).

The deadline is May 4 2013, so don’t delay!

On behalf of the entire Task Force, many thanks for your help.

–Beth Kaplan

5 responses to “More, less, different? Preliminary recommendations of the SAA Communications Task Force

  1. I appreciate this opportunity to comment and share some thoughts…. I am particularly interested in:
    Recommendation 4: Consider an official SAA blog

    Recommendation 5: Emphasize aggregation of relevant content

    These – and the other Recommendations – would really, really enhance connection to – and communication with – our professional organization.

    Alison Stankrauff
    Archivist and Associate Librarian
    Franklin D. Schurz Library
    Indiana University South Bend
    P.O. Box 7111
    South Bend, Indiana 46634
    (574) 520-4392

  2. Thanks very much for your comments, Alison. They are duly noted!
    –Beth (for the Communications Task Force)

  3. I think these recommendations look great. But can you tell me more about this in #1: “reformat the existing electronic AO so that readers can link to and cite individual articles.” Would that mean that people would be able to share the information with people who are not SAA members? (This would be a change from the current model in which the content of the three most recent issues are available to members only.) If so, I’m certainly in favor of it. SAA should not be hiding its good work, and that of its members, under an electronic bushel.

    Congratulations on some very good work!

  4. Thanks Kate! Very good point about AO. We’ll need to clarify that in the next iteration of recommendations. I believe the Task Force intends to recommend that AO be freely available to the world from the date of (online) publication, but I’ll confirm that and leave another reply.
    –Beth (for the Communications Task Force)

  5. Kate, IMHO, to be properly responsible to the SAA membership, the Council must consider the importance that members assign to having some exclusive benefits. To me, that’s the chief issue in looking at possibly making the three most recent issues to AO freely available beyond the membership. I’d be very interested in hearing more members’ opinions about balancing the two sides of the issue.

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