Tuesday, June 8, 2010

RAO's Involvement in SAA's Annual Meeting

I have been asked a few times about the section's role in the Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists, so I thought it might be helpful to share this for anyone else out there who is wondering just how much (or little, as the case may be) the RAO Section as an entity has to do with SAA's Annual Meeting.

I'll begin the year at the end of SAA's annual meeting. The deadline for session and workshop proposals for the following year's annual meeting is usually several weeks to a couple months after the end of the annual meeting and one component of the session and workshop consideration by that year's program committee is endorsements by sections and roundtables.
All sections and roundtables are given the opportunity to endorse a couple session and workshop proposals by the program committee. The endorsement does not guarantee that the proposal will be accepted and appear in the program you should have received from SAA by now, but it generally means that the proposal will receive consideration by the program committee (i.e. it won't be rejected in the first round). So while RAO may think a session proposal should be in the program, ultimately that decision is up to the program committee. Proposals are forwarded to sections and roundtables for endorsement not by the program committee, but by the individuals organizing the sessions. The Steering Committee rates and votes on their favorite proposals. RAO sends in their endorsed sessions to the program committee (usually in October) and that's the last we hear of sessions until the preliminary program comes out to members in the spring.

Some section and roundtable steering committees will propose and endorse their own proposal(s) "from the section/roundtable" in addition to endorsing sessions from other members of SAA. This has not been the recent tradition for RAO. In recent years, RAO has left a bit of time for members to discussion possible session topics and specific proposals during the section meeting and/or encouraged such discussion on the section's listserv.

RAO's next direct contact with the annual meeting comes in February/March when SAA sets a deadline for the description of the section meeting that appears in the program. We're putting those 50 (or fewer) words together about 6 months before the annual meeting, so we don't have a great deal of space to tell you about what will be happening at the meeting. It is also at this time that the section steering committee learns when our meeting will be and has a chance to try to switch with another section for an alternate time slot if desired.

The RAO Steering Committee sets the agenda for our annual meeting during the larger SAA annual meeting, the business portion of which does not vary a great deal year to year. The program portion of the annual meeting is where the section does have a good bit of freedom. We decide if there will be a panel, paper presentations, small group discussions, or another format on topics of interest to the section's membership.

The section's annual meeting is generally finalized in the summer, so while there is a draft agenda for the section meeting available now, keep in mind that final changes will come in the weeks ahead.

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