Nancy P. Beaumont 2014-12-02 11:19:45
In my Archival Outlook columns throughout the year I’ve provided some perspectives on Goals 1–3 of SAA’s ambitious Strategic Plan 2014–2018.1 And then there’s Goal 4: Meeting Members’ Needs. One might say that everything we do is about meeting member needs—and that’s true. But the Council took on some tougher (qualitative) aspects of member needs in drafting the “SAA will” strategies associated with this goal: Facilitate effective communication with and among members. (4.1.) Create opportunities for members to participate fully in the association. (4.2.) Continue to enrich the association and the profession with greater diversity in membership and expanded leadership opportunities. (4.3.) The critical success factors (“key performance indicators”) in measuring progress toward the goal? SAA has an effective and sustainable technology infrastructure that meets member and organizational needs. I know of no professional or trade association that is thrilled with its association management software system. But we are thrilled (and daunted!) By the prospect of beginning our search for a replacement system that will significantly enhance both the functionality of our membership database and SAA’s capacity to communicate with and link members. That search begins in early 2015 following a thorough assessment of functional requirements. By early 2015 we will have launched a redesigned and more robust website, including integration of component group Microsites and, to the extent possible, “unofficial” communication tools. In the meantime we’ve implemented well-received mobile-friendly versions of the Annual Meeting website and In The Loop, SAA’s every-other-week e-newsletter, as well as a shareable online version of Archival Outlook. Adoption of revenue-neutral, low-barrier tools enables broader participation by members in SAA activities. Our technology infrastructure will play a major role in enabling progress in this area—as will our capacity and ongoing commitment to seek and act on member feedback. Members indicate that their needs for formal (e.g., section and roundtable) and informal networking are being met within the organization. The Council will discuss at its November 9–12 meeting the Task Force on Member Affinity Groups’ final report,2 which addresses section and roundtable affiliation and networking. We know from responses to our Annual Meeting surveys that networking is viewed as a key benefit of attendance at the conference. Going forward, we’ll be working on developing platforms and tools that foster networking year-round. SAA’s membership and leadership are increasingly diverse. This is difficult both to measure and to achieve, given the nature of diversity (including “hidden” diversity), the extent to which we’re willing to ask and to selfidentify, and SAA’s dependence on what is happening in graduate education and profession-wide. The IMLS-funded Mosaic Program on which SAA is partnering with the Association of Research Libraries is up and running, but we’ll need to look at models for sustaining diversity initiatives when the grant funding ends in 2016. An activity to “work with archival educators to improve the effectiveness of graduate archival education programs in recruiting and retaining students from underrepresented populations” carries with it all the complexities and hazards that accompany any professional association’s venture into the world of higher education. Member surveys indicate that members feel valued and welcome within SAA. We’re working on ways to promote member input and improve means for you to tell us what you think and what you need. The 2012 “Member Loyalty Study” provided an important starting point, but going forward you may expect periodic pop-up surveys that will allow greater nimbleness in both seeking input and responding to it. Please let us hear from you! The SAA Council is revisiting the Strategic Plan during its November 9–12 meeting in Chicago. I’m betting that the plan won’t have changed a lot when the Council emerges from its facilitated discussion, but it likely will have been tweaked based on member feedback—and our learning curve—in the past year. Stay tuned! Comments or questions? Contact me at email@example.com or 866-722-7858, extension 12. Notes 1 http://www2.archivists.org/governance/strategic- plan/2014-2018 . 2 http://www2.archivists.org/groups/saa-council /november-9-12-2014-council-meeting-agenda.
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