Jackie Dooley 2014-02-11 11:08:55
The twelve members of the SAA Council do an amazing amount of work on behalf of the membership, much of which is less than scintillating and is likely invisible to the majority of you. Those who pour intently over our thrice-yearly, action-packed meeting agendas, documents, and minutes (www2 .archivists.org/governance) know otherwise, but I’m guessing that’s a small minority! However, one of our current activities deserves lots of public dissemination. We’re working to analyze and respond to the results of the spring 2012 Member Needs and Satisfaction Survey, to which 2,151 of us responded. The copious data (see http://files.archivists.org/membership/ surveys/saaMemberSurvey-2012r2.pdf) is a lot to sink our teeth into, especially as the Council embarks on renewing SAA’s strategic priorities in January. Council members discussed some of the big-picture issues during a series of conference calls between mid-December and mid-January. Each call focused on a broad topic: continuing education, member benefits, publications, perceptions of Council, strategic initiatives, and the open-ended questions that enabled Survey respondents to provide free-form feedback. Two documents were prepared by Council member teams in advance of each discussion: an informal white paper summarizing the most salient data in that area and making tentative recommendations for further Council action, and a brief overview to serve as a discussion guide during the meeting. The effects of the membership survey data should be apparent in the outcomes of our strategic planning. We’ll actively report on this following our face-to-face Council meeting in late January. Trials and Tribulations of Remote Communications Incidentally, the Council has chiefly used a conference calling account for remote meetings, but it’s not ideal when the objective is active discussion among twelve people. Some of you may have seen the Tip Sheet for No-Cost Web Conferencing Options (http://files.archivists.org/governance/leaders/ TipSheet_WebConferencing_0812.pdf) that the Council put together for use by component groups, which briefly outlines The steps for using Google+ Hangouts and Skype. It turns out that Hangouts isn’t an option for the Council because only nine people can participate. Some members have had poor experiences with large groups on Skype, so we opted to try iMeet. Alas, more technical problems. We’re looking into Adobe Connect and other available tools. For most meetings, the Council resorted to old-fashion conference calling, enhanced by agreed-upon protocols for ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to participate in discussion. At least it’s reliable! I’m well acquainted with how unpredictable some of these technologies can be. My colleagues in OCLC Research are spread across the globe. Connectivity problems occur regularly, even now that we use a fairly high-end videoconferencing technology. The related “sociology” also can be a challenge (e.g., Please stop typing! Who’s rustling papers? Put yourself on mute!). As remote communications become more necessary, however, we’re all going to have to adopt the tools and habits that enable productive collaborations among remote participants. In the meantime, we’ll continue to experiment.
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