Guest Post: Matt Gorzalski and Michelle Sweetser, SAA Membership Committee

This Guest Post is authored by Chair Matt Gorzalski and Vice-Chair Michelle Sweetser of the SAA Membership Committee:

The SAA Membership Committee recently surveyed the society’s membership to gain insight into the condition of professional development support provided by employers.  The survey was a continuation of the Committee’s efforts to learn more about SAA’s membership.  It follows the Barriers to Participation survey conducted between February and March 2017, which highlighted lack of financial support for annual meeting and workshop attendance as a significant barrier to continuing education and greater participation in SAA.

The professional development survey was open from October 31 through November 22, 2017 and was disseminated via SAA’s website and social media accounts, In the Loop emails, and the SAA Leader email list.  The survey gathered 1,006 responses, or 18% of SAA’s total individual membership (using November 2017 figures).  This blog post highlights the findings.

The majority of respondents (66%) receive annual professional development support from their employers.  Others (25%) receive support in some years but not annually.  The remaining respondents receive no support (8%) or have no access to support because they are self-employed, a student, or retired (3%).

Graph 1
Figure 1: Support for professional development most frequently is offered in the $501-1000 and $1001-1500 ranges.

The Committee was also interested in temporal trends in professional development support.  Respondents were asked if they had been with their current employer for at least 5 years, of which 45% (452) stated “yes” and 55% (552) stated “no.”  The level of support for archivists who have been with their current employer for at least 5 years has largely stagnated or decreased.  Those who have been with their employer for less than 5 years are more likely to see increased professional development support (Figure 2).

Graph 2

Respondents were asked to name archival topics that they feel need greater emphasis among professional development offerings.  Archivists who have been with their current employer for 5 years or more identified the following topics (in no particular order): management/leadership; digital/electronic records; funds or fundraising, outreach; audiovisual materials, diversity; description/finding aids; and digitization.  Archivists who have been with their current employer less than 5 years identified (in no particular order): management/leadership; digital/electronic records; digitization; outreach; and lone arrangers.

A formal report on this survey is forthcoming.

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