Tag Archives: SAA10

So That Happened: SAA 2010

I am starting this post at the airport as I wait for the flight that will bring me home to Michigan from DC and the 2010 SAA Joint Conference. Part of this is because I want to get my thoughts down while they are fresh, and the other part is the couple next to me seems to be making out a lot for being in a public place. Anyway…

The Sessions: Overall I liked the sessions I attended. I thought they were informative and some were quite applicable. In my mind, sessions break down into three types: more theoretical discussions on archival practice, ongoing or recently concluded research or projects, and people sharing what they are doing at their institutions. All three can be interesting to me, but I again find myself really enjoying the third kind the most. I know there are some big grant funded projects going on right now that are important and a benefit to us all. But then there are the folks who are trying different things, in addition to their regular work, to better their archives. These projects are not grant funded or supported by anything but the institution and the staff’s hard work and willingness to take risk. Not only do they do these things, but then they go to a national conference and share their results, warts and all, with the community so we can implement and build upon their work. As you move though your career I hope that you consider presenting on topics like this, as they never fail to get me fired up.

I Enter The Fray: This is my second SAA conference. This year, like last, I helped organize the Research Forum. It gives me a chance to learn about all of the research going on in the community, as well as meet a lot of the participants. I also presented for the first time this year, giving a talk on disaster planning for digital assets at the Preservation Section, the slides for which are located here (that blatant bit of product placement just made me feel a bit dirty). I was pretty nervous, but I think it went well and received a lot of great feedback. There was actually a small line afterwards to talk to me. Now, I have been surrounded by groups that were pointing and laughing at me before, but never a line to discuss professional matters. Pretty cool.

The Declaration of Independence, Beer, and C-3PO The social events were a very good time this year. Last year, I did not know all that many people and I was way more intimidated. Mingling does not seem to be something that comes naturally to most archivists. This year, I knew more people and had a really good time at the after-hours events. The locations did not hurt. One reception was in the National Archives, and although the line for food was way too long and I was a touch disappointed in our profession to see how much line cutting was going on (I mean, we were like 20 yards away from the charters of freedom and you cut in line, come on people), it was still cool being at that location. The Friday reception was in the Smithsonian Museum of American History and I got to drink a beer while standing next to C-3PO. Meaning that I can cross “Have A Drink With An Actual Star Wars Character” off my bucket list, leaving only “See Michigan Beat Ohio State Again” and “Train A Small Monkey to Do My (Probably Evil) Bidding.”

Despite this, I still really did not meet many new people at the social events, but rather hung out with people I already knew from school. This may have been because I was spending an inordinate amount of time standing next to an empty costume from a science fiction movie, but I am finding that conferences in general are not really so much about meeting new people but reconnecting with the ones you kinda already know. Unless, of course, you are on Twitter (you were just foreshadowed, my friend).

The Archivist Twitterverse For The Win: I am biased here but I think the SAA conference was made so much richer by the folks from the profession who are on Twitter. I am not so good at the live tweeting, but there are several who are and it really helps add a lot to the experience, whether you are in the same room or a different state. Their hard work is located at http://twapperkeeper.com/hashtag/saa10 for your reading pleasure.

Also, the personal connections made through Twitter cannot be overstated. I met more people (and by met I mean the actual meet-in-person-hi-how-are-you kind of met) through the connections made on Twitter than those I met at sessions, mixers, reunions, receptions, and this blog combined. The Tweetup was a smashing success (I am REALLY biased here), with well over the 30 or so people who initially submitted an RSVP. I can’t wait to meet more fellow archivists as this group of engaged professionals gets larger. I feel as though the community being built on Twitter will, if not already, be a force to reckoned with in the profession, despite some continuing to not get it (I look in your general direction, certain haters on the A&A).

Last year, I found the conference in Austin to be very big, informative, tiring, and friggin’ hot. This year, I found the conference to be bigger, packed with more info, exhausting, and just as friggin’ hot. Can’t wait to see what Chicago 2011 brings.

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All Archivists Tweetup

Lat year at this time I would have been all “What the hell is a Tweetup?” Now, through a series of misinterpretations and me opening my big mouth one too many times, I am planning one. Luckily for me and all interested parties, @randomarchivist and @sheepeeh are helping me  (and by help I mean doing all the work) and @DerangeDescribe is providing some much needed encouragement.

So, we are planning The All Archivists Tweetup on Wednesday, August 11th at The Zoo Bar, which is about a ten minute walk north from the conference hotel. The festivities will begin around 9:00, or right after the NARA reception, and will go until they kick us out for being too rowdy, ’cause that is how we archivists roll. Please go here to RSVP (RSVP’s are not necessary but would really help us plan) and to see the already sweet guest list, or use the ugly embedded thingy below. For those who cant make it, use the Twitter hashtag #SAA10Tweetup to follow all the awkward awesomeness!
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Map Your Way… To Savings!

We had some great cost saving suggestions for SAA 2010 in the comments of our last post. @archivesnext noted on Twitter that finding grocery stores next to where you are staying is a great way to save money on meals. I agree, last year at SAA in Austin I walked into the conference hotel lobby with a CVS bag and had at least 5 people ask me where it was located. I charged each of those people $1.75 for the answer, but as a loyal NewArchivist reader, I am giving that information to you for only $1.50 free! So, if you are like me and your out-of-town diet will consist mostly of Snickers and Red Bull, please feel free to use these maps as starting points.

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Affording $AA

As students and new professionals, we are among the hardest hit by the expenses associated with attending the SAA Annual Meeting in Washington DC. Some of us are lucky enough to get some organizational support while others of us are left to fend completely for ourselves. The question dealing with why it is so expensive and how we might be able to change that is the topic of a great discussion at Beaver Archivist and two posts at ArchivesNext (here and here). I am working on a post on this topic as well, but for now I thought I would share some tips that may help participants afford the conference. I know this is kind of late but hopefully it can help those that are still finalizing their plans.

The Hotel is the biggest expense of the conference. While the rate of $185 for participants at the conference hotel is a substantial discount from their normal rate of well over $300, in my book it still qualifies as friggin’ expensive and out of the question for many of us. Using Crash Space for Archivists or finding someone to share hotel space with is a great option (sorry for the shameless plug). For others finding much cheaper lodging is both the obvious choice and the clear challenge.

Using sites like Hotwire and Priceline provides a chance to save some serious dough.  I used Hotwire for the Midwest Archives Conference and stayed at a hotel for under $90 that was much nicer than the conference hotel, which had a similar rate to SAA’s. If you have never used these sites before, the drawback is that you have to pay your non-refundable rate before you know what hotel you are booking. You choose your hotels using areas of the city and level of hotel (two star, three star, etc.). For Chicago the areas are pretty compact but for DC they are pretty big and odd shaped, especially for the one the conference is located.

There are sites that use the information about each hotel to help you guess which one it might be. For my Chicago trip I used BetterBidding.com and it was right on. Also, if you do end up away from the conference hotel DC does have a great subway system.

Airfare is another expensive piece of the puzzle. Luckily DC has some airport choices. Generally speaking it is cheaper to fly into Baltimore (BWI) than DC. For my flight (from Detroit) a ticket to Baltimore is about 1/3 cheaper than one to either DC airport. BWI also has some good (and cheap) transportation options to DC. I know I plan on taking advantage of this, as well as use it as an opportunity to get some soft-shell crab. Mmmmmm, friend whole crustaceans…

The League of Broke Archivists I have already mentioned that I will have a post later dealing with how SAA may make the conference more affordable. If you have thoughts on that I highly encourage you to go to the links provided in the first paragraph. However, while reading Kate’s first post on this topic and the comments I thought that it might be a good idea to organize a group of people that can band together independent of SAA and create a pool of rooms at a more affordable hotel. I know this idea is too late for this year but I think it might work for the years to come. Do you think people would be interested in partaking in something like this? As you can see, I already have a sweet name for it.

Please leave any other tips you may have for ways to make the conference more affordable, especially if you are from the DC area and have any ideas on where a person may get some affordable eats and drinks. Hopefully in the future we will have more legitimate options allowing more and more of us to attend the conference, and posts like this will not be needed.


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