Nancy P. Beaumont 2014-02-11 11:10:43
Strategic planning is hard. It’s difficult to balance our own hard-won biases with the larger responsibility of leading an organization, to think big when there’s comfort in small tasks. It’s scary to be the people at the table who are responsible for reading the tea leaves . . . The SAA Council has been at the table, and soon will release for member comment the “high-level” elements of the draft Strategic Plan 2013–2018—that is, the goals and strategies. As we seek member comment in the coming weeks and months, the Council will continue its work to develop tactics that support the proposed strategies. SAA’s previous strategic plan led to development of the Digital Archives Specialist Curriculum and Certificate Program, the Trends in Archives Practice publication modules, American Archives Month and I Found It In The Archives!, an Advocacy Agenda, the Mosaic Scholarship Program, SAA’s Standards Portal, a Statement on Diversity, and so much more. This time around the strategic planning process has been informed by a wealth of resources, including the 2012 Member Needs Survey; the research being done by the Annual Meeting Task Force and the Communications Task Force; input about advocating for archives and archivists from the Government Affairs Working Group, the Issues and Advocacy Roundtable Steering Committee, and the Joint CoSA/ NAGARA/SAA working group on issues and awareness; and comments by and about archivists in SAA’s social media and elsewhere. The challenge for the SAA Council is to use that rich—and sometimes contradictory— input to determine what the environment is likely to be for archives and archivists in the next five years and to position SAA to meet the needs that will exist then. For example: • What can SAA do to make “archives” a household word, to associate with archives the fact that there are well-educated professionals who make them happen, and to stress the critical need for resources to sustain both? • How will SAA meet members’ needs for education when their employers won’t fund travel? Will the rates for web conferencing decline significantly enough that SAA could afford to provide virtual workshops and conferences? What’s the risk of not investing $150,000 or $200,000 to provide a virtual annual meeting experience? • Can SAA have any impact on the class sizes in archives management programs, when new professionals are finding that there aren’t enough jobs in archives? What are the risks in speaking out about such issues? What do you think will be the major issues that archivists will face in 2016? 2017? 2018? What can or should SAA (as a collective) be doing now to prepare for that imagined future? We can’t know or anticipate all. But if we’re to advance the public perception of archives, provide the resources and tools to help archivists succeed, advance the archives field, and enhance member services within SAA—including fostering a culture of creativity and experimentation— we’re going to have to focus on what’s really important and be willing to take some risks. (Hint: You’ll be seeing many of these words again soon. . . .) Keep an eye on the website and In the Loop for announcements about the draft plan and invitations to comment. If you’re able to attend the 2013 Joint Annual Meeting in New Orleans, you’ll have another chance to comment at a forum on Thursday, August 15, noon to 1:15 pm. The Council hopes to adopt a new strategic plan in August or September. We hope that plan reflects your thoughts.
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