What’s the value of an in-person meeting?

So, that last post generated a few comments about organizing an informal meeting at SAA to discuss this roundtable in progress. I’ll be at SAA, and so will Lance and Jessica, and we’re all open to the idea (as long as it doesn’t conflict with the SAA 2011 Tweetup and Beer Roundtable). Please post your ideas for times and/or locations in the comments!


But I also want to use this post to talk about the value of meeting in person. One of the benefits of getting this group approved by SAA by January (we hope!) is that we can request a roundtable meeting room and time at SAA12. And it’s an especially important topic for a group for new archivists, because many of us can’t afford to attend the SAA annual meeting or other professional events in person.


So I pose the question: what can this group accomplish with an in-person meeting at SAA–either an informal one, like we’d have this year, or a formal one, like we might be able to have next year–that we can’t accomplish remotely? If we do have an in-person meeting, formal or informal, how can we make sure that archivists who can’t attend aren’t out of the loop?

About Rebecca
Archivist, librarian, webcomicker.

17 Responses to What’s the value of an in-person meeting?

  1. Lori Satter says:

    I’d love to meet up during SAA, but understand that many new archivists can’t afford to go to SAA. Maybe we could meet up, and Rebecca, Lance or Jessica could do a live blog post and give people a chance to comment as we meet in person or a chance to tweet their comments.

  2. Alexis says:

    I am interested in the group and will be attending SAA. Another idea might be to use video conferencing to allow others to participate depending on the technology available to us and to others.

  3. Jess says:

    I think there is great value with in-person meetings: ideas can be exchanged faster so discussions can be much more productive in a shorter amount of time. Also, I think there is something to be said for meeting people face to face that can help groups be a bit more cohesive.
    But, as someone who is not attending SAA this year, I’d really like to see a way for those who aren’t physically there to have a voice in the meeting, and not just commenting afterward. Video conferencing would be amazing, but I’m not sure if that would be feasible?

  4. Totally in favor of an informal meeting at SAA to keep the ball rolling. And I also support the idea of video conferencing for those who are unable to make it – maybe I’m underestimating the ease of doing this, but surely there’s some kind of quick and dirty way to set up a group phone/conference chat. Isn’t there some kind of group video chat now available through Google+?

    In terms of times, Wednesday morning or mid-day before the Archon/AT roundtable meeting in the afternoon would work very well for me.

  5. Lori Satter says:

    Meeting after 1:30 on Wednesday would be good for me (I should be at the hotel by then).

    • Rebecca says:

      After 1:30 conflicts with the other roundtable meetings. Would you skip those to attend this? (Not trying to test your loyalty here, just asking. 🙂 )

      • Lori Satter says:

        It turns out I read the schedule wrong- the round-table I want to go to isn’t until 3:15.

        But too much before 1:30, I won’t have arrived.

      • I would love to meet up for an informal meeting, but have roundtables I want to attend in all slots Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday evening is open for me after the roundtables, which would work if too many people aren’t going to the first-timers orientation.

        I think it would be nice to have an informal meeting this year to get a roundtable for next year.

  6. Anna says:

    I think both meeting forms are valid and (in this age) necessary. But having a physical, in-person presence at the convention would be invaluable for getting publicity and being taken seriously within the organization. And I feel that being present at convention is a big part of being a roundtable.

    But here’s a possible resource for web conferencing that is free without a participant limit. I’ve never used them, but they might be worth checking out.


    I’m not completely certain how you could coordinate this with a simultaneous in-person meeting. Maybe you could aim a web camera at the presenter from the back of the room and have a person managing the laptop and the virtual attendees? You could also put the computer screen up on a projector screen for the in-person attendees to see. You’d probably need a microphone, in addition to a projector and screen, to properly pick up the sounds from the meeting room. This sounds complicated, but not impossible.

    Another less interactive option would be to record the in-person meeting and distribute it like a podcast.

    • Rebecca says:

      One big limitation is that the conference hotel doesn’t have wireless. That makes webcasting, or even live-blogging, challenging. Doing an audio- or videorecording sounds feasible, though.

  7. Christine says:

    I have to agree that an in-person meeting is both extremely useful and offers us some credibility. However, until the conference is made more accessible to un- and under-employed members of the profession (of which a pretty big percentage – I’m guessing – would be considered ‘new archivists’), this just seems a continuation of the isolating set-up that is already in place. As a new, young-ish, underemployed member, it is only by the grace of Kate that I get to go this year. I seriously doubt that I’ll be able to make it next year. That alone is isolating and makes one feel on the outskirts of the profession. To have the in-person meeting with no real way of participating remotely just furthers that feeling. It is incredibly frustrating and depressing to feel that, because you don’t have a well-paying job that provides professional-development funding, you don’t get to participate in your profession.

    I think the problem here is that there is no good solution (unless we start going to hotels that cater to conferences occurring in this century). An in-person meeting is the best way to become acquainted, share ideas, and be efficient and orderly in working on issues. At the same time, the in-person meeting excludes exactly those people the roundtable is supposed to be serving and providing participation/leadership opportunities to.

    Tough call.

    • Rebecca says:

      Christine, thanks for your comment. I’m still on the fence about whether we have enough time to organize an in-person meeting this year. If we have the meeting, it would be mostly for generating feedback. We could post highlights of the discussion here, and anyone who couldn’t attend would still be able to give feedback either on this blog or via email. We aren’t an official group yet, so there are no official decisions to be made either in-person or remotely.

      I also want to point out that if we get approved as a RT next year and get an official RT meeting time and room, even all the new archivists who can attend SAA wouldn’t necessarily be able to attend our meeting. There are lots of RTs to choose from, and new archivists may decide that other meetings in the same time slot are more important for their professional development.

      What do you think about regional in-person meetings? It’s an idea I’ve been toying with, partly because it gets around issues of travel and hotel expenses, and partly because I like having archivists at my house.

      • Christine says:

        I think the regional in-person meetings might be very nice both a) to hang out with you at your house and b) to allow more people to opportunity to participate. Of course, it might end up being a logistical nightmare to organize and then relay info to the larger group, but the nice thing about being able to choose locations would be *gasp* wireless! technology! cheaper drinks! so maybe they could be regional but open to all via web conference or the like.

  8. rose l chou says:

    Perhaps a combination of live-tweeting the in-person meeting and a #libchat style Twitter meeting could work? Of course, the hard part is finding a good timeslot to meet in person.

    • Rebecca says:

      Wireless may be hard to come by at SAA. We could absolutely do a write-up afterwards, but I’m not sure if live-tweeting will work.

  9. Rebecca W. says:

    I may be a little late to the conversation, but as a grad student (and hopeful future archivist), I would love to learn more about this potential roundtable. Months ago when I first joined SAA I was looking for a RT like the one you propose (I figure student is close enough to new archivist?), but (obviously) it wasn’t there. Not knowing enough about what I wanted (so many RTs to choose from), I chose women archivists (I figured it was relevant and I wanted to choose at least one). Sufficed to say I was — and still am — a bit overwhelmed. Hopefully I’ll get *some* orientation at SAA11!

  10. Pingback: Remote participation: can we do it? « Planning a new SAA roundtable for new archivists

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