Contributed by Kate Dundon and Matthew Gorzalski, Membership Committee
The SAA Membership Committee recently surveyed members about the barriers hindering participation in SAA. We wanted to identify the issues affecting members’ engagement with the organization, and propose strategies to foster greater participation. The report is available on the SAA Membership Committee microsite. The survey returned 1,279 responses, or 21% of total SAA individual membership. This blog post highlights some of the findings.
Slightly over half (52%) of respondents indicated that they’d like to be more involved in SAA. When asked to choose from a list of barriers, respondents are most hindered by lack of financial support (58%) and lack of time (47%), followed by feelings of inexperience (28%) and uncertainty on how to become involved (22%). Others (12%) noted unsuccessful attempts at appointment or election to a leadership position.
Comments from the free text response question revealed an interesting dichotomy of members’ perspective concerning SAA as an insular organization versus its efforts to engage membership in recent years. Many members experience feelings of intimidation and unwelcomeness that contribute to their hesitation to participate in SAA. These include: perception of cliquish leadership and membership; first-time annual meeting attendees intimidated by the size of the conference; low proportion of people of color in SAA; perception that SAA is dominated by the interests of academic archives; and the perception that the organization is dominated by liberal political views. On the other hand, others remarked that SAA has become significantly more engaging over time, particularly to younger members. One respondent stated, “New members have never had such opportunities for service.”
This survey has given us a better understanding of the complex barriers faced by members in participating in the organization. The Membership Committee compiled a list of suggestions for addressing these obstacles in our report, many of which were presented to us by survey respondents. Below is a small selection of the actions that we think would be the most impactful:
- Continue to create more opportunities to participate virtually in order to mitigate geographic and financial barriers to participation. Consider live streaming annual meeting sessions, plenaries, and section and committee meetings. When feasible, provide recorded professional development workshops online for a fee.
- Create a “Get Involved” section on the SAA website that clearly articulates the various paths toward involvement in committees, sections, etc., and centralizes information about all leadership positions. Open elected positions and committee appointments, with with estimated time commitments, could be posted to this centralized location.
- Produce regular profiles of current SAA leaders or volunteers with a description of their path of service that led them to their current positions, perhaps in In the Loop or Archival Outlook. A respondent commented, “I think I’d have a clearer picture of how to start my own service with SAA if I saw examples of how others have done it.”
Do you have ideas about how to support engagement with SAA? Leave them in the comment section below!
In the past few weeks, my Council and leadership colleagues and I have had a number of conversations with members about how one goes about getting involved in SAA. We’re delighted that people care and are willing to pose that question–thanks to all of you who did, and to all of you who share that interest. The call for appointments by Vice President Dennis Meissner will go out in October, but that’s not the only way to be professionally engaged with SAA. Council member Tanya Zanish-Belcher, who is both welcoming and great about getting people involved, has provided some thoughts on the subject. And if you still or in the future have questions, please follow the suggestion on the button that Terry Baxter and the Membership Committee were passing out at the recent Joint Annual Meeting: “Ask me.” Continue reading
This post was written by the members of the Task Force on Member Affinity Groups. I hope you will attend their forum during the conference or respond to this post in the comments.
Since last year’s SAA Annual Meeting, a task force has been working to determine how the Society’s member affinity groups (that is, its Sections and Roundtables) can better serve the membership as a whole. While nothing has been finalized, the task force has been exploring several recommendations largely based on a survey completed this spring. The task force would like to take this opportunity to share some of these findings and to ask for general feedback on preliminary recommendations. Continue reading
I have been in awe of all the comments following my post on the Archives and Archivists list. Now here is your opportunity to make comments. The committee studying the list (incoming SAA Vice President/President-Elect Dennis Meissner, new archives professional and SAA member Samantha Winn, long-time SAA and listserv member Christine Di Bella, and SAA Web and Information Systems Administrator Matt Black.) have put out a request for comments as well as a survey to learn more about list users. You can see their announcement and request for comments here.
Here is your opportunity to express your feelings about the Archives list. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.
Back in the late 1980’s I made the decision to leave archives for a bit and start working reference at a college or university library. I’ve always loved reference and had I not discovered archives while in library school I think I might be working reference at a college or university. However after a couple of years the desire to go back to archives hit me hard. The university where I worked did not have archives and I made it my goal to start the university archives. I did take a few courses at another college but the thing that got me excited about archives again was the Archives and Archivists list. Continue reading
This post was written by SAA Council Members Terry Baxter and Lisa Mangiafico.
The Society of American Archivists Council has discussed a code of conduct for meeting and online spaces at its most recent two meetings. The resulting draft is available for comment and comments will still be accepted until June 22, 2014. The intent of the Council is to revise the draft based on member comments, discuss and vote on the revised draft, and, if adopted, have an official code of conduct available by the annual meeting in August. Continue reading
This post was written by council member Michelle Light with assistance from council member Tim Pyatt. I thank them and the other members of Council made suggestions for this post and who have responded to questions and concerns from section and roundtable leaders about forthcoming changes for the 2015 annual meeting.
In 2013 the SAA Annual Meeting Task Force submitted a thoughtful and forward thinking report that gave the Society a number of recommendations for improving our annual meeting. If you haven’t read the report, you should! Continue reading