Tips and Tricks for the SAA Annual Meeting from the #snaprt Twitter Chat

By Helen Schubert and contributors

For our July 25th Twitter chat, SNAP welcomed members of the Annual Meeting Task Force and other experienced SAA attendees to join us and offer advice for first-timers. We got some additional advice, especially on New Orleans itself, during the August 5th Twitter chat. Here are some of the tips we gathered!

Resources for additional advice:

SNAP’s First-Timer’s Guide

ALA’s New Member Roundtable chat archive

ALA Survival Tips and Packing Lists

Stuff to do during SAA:

Host Committee Blog

Lunch Buddies

SAA 13 tweetup on Wednesday 8/14

Planning your time and choosing sessions

*  If you use Google calendar to plan your schedule ahead of time, make sure to set times for NOLA’s time zone.

* Don’t just concentrate on sessions – lots to be learned at roundtable and section meetings as well.

* Go to a session or meetings on topics you know nothing about – they’re often the most exciting, and a chance to learn outside your typical area.

* Don’t be afraid to go to your second or third choice session if your first is too crowded, hard to find, etc – sometimes these will end of being the best you go to!

* Make time to go to at least one “fun” session

* Go to the grad student papers session.

* Don’t be afraid to join sessions late. It’s also okay to leave early (but try to sit near an aisle or exit).

* Don’t skip the Q&A. It’s a chance to meet like minds in the audience and talk afterwards. If you’re not up for asking a question during the session, approach the speaker afterwards.

* Don’t feel like you have to go to every session, especially if you have an opportunity for networking, meeting your archives, crush, etc. Some of the best learning/connecting happens in the hallways. Never feel guilty about skipping “formal” sessions for networking or one-on-one conversation.

* A lot of our advice-givers said they plan their schedule in advance, but rarely stick to the plan; often they get recommendations for other sessions

* Every meeting at SAA is open to everyone, including Council (Monday 4-8 and Tuesday 8-12). Some small groups (committee, etc) don’t usually get visitors; if you’re planning on going to one, Kate Theimer suggests emailing the chair ahead of time.

What to pack:

* Comfortable shoes, a power strip, business cards, and snacks.

* Whatever you may want for note-taking (but keep in mind that you may not have access to an outlet to recharge during a session).

* New Orleans is HOT. (Be prepared for 100+ heat index). Wear something you’ll be comfortable going outside in. If you’ll be outside a lot, you may want to pack extra underwear, or even extra outfits.

* Bring a water bottle and drink twice as much water as usual. NOLA is fine if you go slow and stay hydrated.

* On the other had, meeting rooms can be cold – bring a cardigan or shawl

* There are no formal events, and no dress code. Wear what makes you comfortable; khakis or a casual skirt are perfectly acceptable.

What seasoned attendees wish they’d known their first time

* How approachable and welcoming most archivists are. Don’t be afraid to approach them! (In the words of SAA President Jackie Dooley: “Starstruck? We’re just a buncha schmucks! Who love our work and evangelistically spreading the word to newbies.)

* That you don’t need to attend every session. Make time for fun and networking!

* Know your limits – don’t overdo it on drinking or socializing, or underdo it on sleep. Take a nap if you need to.

* If you can, leave a day to recover post-SAA before going back to work

Twitter tips

* Replace your Twitter avatar with a headshot (of you) if it isn’t one already, so that others will recognize you.

* If you can’t attend the conference, Twitter is a pretty good way to keep up. There is an imbalance of session coverage, though – e-records sessions tend to get the best coverage. Follow #saa13 for the whole conference, and session hashtags (eg #s100) for particular sessions

Other tips:

* If you miss a handout, check the SAA conference program site – a growing number of presenters are uploading them there

* It’s fine to take notes on a laptop during session. Sitting on the aisle minimizes distraction to others. Tablets and smartphones are more common.

* If you’re looking for new groups to get involved in, don’t miss the networking session with section & roundtable reps at the end of SNAP’s roundtable meeting.

* Exhibit hall office hours are another good time to find out about groups and roundtables.

* The Annual Meeting is the best place to meet up with people to propose a session for next year.

* Offer to volunteer with sections/RTs and committees. Even if they don’t take  you then, they’ll remember you the next time. If you don’t have an opportunity to speak up during the meeting, introduce yourself to the group’s leaders afterwards. Network, network, network!

* Go to the baseball game if you’re around on Saturday – it’s a great way to meet people.

* Almost all cabs are supposed to be equipped with credit card readers, but check and always carry some cash with you. There are lots of tax-vans for cab sharing.

For airport transit, the service offered through the SAA site is cheaper than taking a cab.

* Don’t be afraid to join the conversation – your ideas are important. And don’t make this your last SAA meeting!

Many thanks to all our advice-givers:

Kate Theimer (@archivesnext), SAA Council member
Jackie Dooley (@minniedw), SAA President
Kathleen Roe (@KDRoe122), incoming SAA Vice President
Kathy Marquis (@kathymarquis25), AMTF Co-Chair
Jennifer S. (@CyclinArchivist), AMTF member
Lynn Eaton (@1923sally), AMTF member
Rebecca Goldman (@DerangeDescribe), SNAP founder & Chair
Helen Schubert (@magicallyreal), SNAP Social Media Coordinator
Eira Tansey (@eiratansey), Local Arrangements Committee member
Laura O’Hara (@loharasukidog)
Bergis Jules (@BergisJules)
Brad Houston (@herodotusjr)

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About Lisa Huntsha

Lisa is the archivist/librarian at the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College. She stumbled into archival work by way of the museum world and is always seeking ways to break down the silos of these professions. Lisa has worked in museums, libraries, and archives in Illinois, New York, and Alaska. While not at work, Lisa spends her free time biking, working on art projects, and putting her useless knowledge to good use on bar trivia teams. You can find her on Twitter @lisahuntsha.

One thought on “Tips and Tricks for the SAA Annual Meeting from the #snaprt Twitter Chat

  1. Pingback: Hack Your First Professional Conference | Hack Library School

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