Disclaimer: This wiki is a supplemental venue for discussion related to the Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting; it's NOT hosted or officially endorsed by SAA. Check the SAA Annual Meeting Site for the most up-to-date program information.
SAA First-Timer Tips
For events and activities of interest on the SAA site, see: Attention First-Timers and New Members!
 Request a Navigator
The Navigator program exists to match volunteers with new conference attendees. The deadline to request a Navigator is July 2. Learn more at Attention First-Timers and New Members!
 Attend the New Member / First-Timer Breakfast
Every year there is a New Member - First Timer Breakfast and Orientation on the first full day of the conference. Yes, it is at 7:00 AM. However, it is really worthwhile attending this orientation. You get a chance to hear from some of the SAA veterans talking about the various options and activities at the conference, and through SAA. You also get breakfast, and a chance to meet other newbies who may be feeling as lost as you are. Introduce yourself to a few people at random (we are all archivists). Once you have a few names you'll have a few familiar faces to wave at in the crowd. I would encourage Navigators to encourage their Navigatees to attend the breakfast, and go there to meet them in person. If you are a new member and you did not request a Navigator, this is a good place to ask the questions.
 Sessions vs. Sections vs. Roundtables
For a first timer (and sometimes even for second and third timers), it can be difficult to determine the differences between regular sessions and the various section and roundtable meetings. Here's a place to share ideas, tips and experiences about how to negotatiate these parts of the program.
The SAA meeting has gotten so big that it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Sections and Roundtables are where it is at for the individual. Don't use this time slot to go off and be a tourist! This is where you have a better chance to meet others who face the same issues as you and they are often much more welcoming and friendly than the big anonymous conference. That said even some of the sections are big groups. College & University Archives is a big section, but after conducting the business portion of the meeting they usually break up into smaller discussion groups around preset topics. If there isn't a section or roundtable directly related to your interests during a timeslot go to one anyway. One of the best, most inspiring happenings I went to last year was dropping in on the Oral History Section though I do not have anything to do with OH; it was fabulous!
 On Being a Newcomer
Sections and roundtables usually encourage new participants. Participation and volunteering for leadership positions in sections and roundtables is one great way to get your feet wet in SAA.
Note, however, that some of these groups are fairly small and have members who know each other very well. You might at first feel like somewhat of an outsider when you first show up. Have no fear. You're not the first one. Just introduce yourself and then give people a chance to get to know you.
 Speakers or Meetings
Some section and roundtable meetings are really that: meetings. They work through an agenda of business items and discuss various group issues and activities. For most groups, this is the only time in the whole year when they can have a face-to-face discussion. Other section and roundtable meetings are filled with talks that feel very much like a regular session. There are also hybrid meetings, in which there's some business discussion and then one or two speakers on a particular issue.
 Deciding between Options
It can be challenging to choose betweeen various sessions. To narrow them down, first identify the two or three sessions that most interest you or are the most relevant to you or your job. Then try to balance your remaining slots with sessions that relate to other areas of interest. Try to think about whether you want depth (e.g., all appraisal all the time) or breadth (e.g., a smattering of different topics) in your educational experience. Think about going to a session just because it looks "fun".
It is OK to session hop. Please be respectful and transition quietly between sessions. Unfortunately, speakers often do not speak in the order they are listed in the program.
When you check in at the registration desk you'll get a small, kind of pocket-sized booklet that lists what rooms the sessions will be in (but doesn't have the full descriptions). You might want to mark this up with your session choices. It can be hard to remember sometimes from the titles which ones you are interested in, and it can be a pain to be flipping back and forth between the big book and the small one. You might also want to know what your second and third choices are--sometimes rooms can fill up quickly and you might find yourself shut out of your first choice.
 Ten Conference Tips (originally posted on Spellboundblog.com)
10: Eat more often. Eat real food. Hors d'oeuvres don’t count.
9: Going full throttle without any breaks for more than one day is impossible. At some point my brain won’t take in new information and all I want to do is sit and think about a session I went to yesterday.
8: You never know which sessions will be your favorites. It always happens that at least one session I wasn’t so sure about knocks my socks off — while another that I was so excited about drives me back out the door after 10 minutes.
7: Always bring an extra jacket.
6: Make new friends. Cultivate your inner extrovert. Be bold and introduce yourself. Never assume that everyone around you knows each other - do the kind thing and initiate introductions. This gets easier the more you practice. And don’t worry - everyone forgets names, that is part of the reason they give us those snazzy name tags and insist we wear them.
5: Bring twice as many business cards as you think you need.
4: Don’t have cards? Make them! I have used both VistaPrint and GotPrint. VistaPrint has a set of designs that they will print for free (with their logo on the back). Gotprint makes super lush, shiny cards on nice heavy stock. Both include online tools to create your card - but will also let you upload a PDF if you want to use Photoshop to do something more graphically inspired. If you ended up with either my Spellbound Blog card or the 2007 Wiki card in your stack of cards, you have a sample of what GotPrint can create.
3: Bring the big book they send you in the mail that describes all the sessions. The on site booklet only has the session titles - and often that isn’t enough information to make your choices.
2: Do the fun stuff! It is a good way to force your brain to take a break. It also gives you a chance to meet new people (see tip #6 above).
1: Be flexible. Plans change, opportunities for networking, brainstorming and being exposed to new ideas are around every corner. The choice to NOT attend a session you meant to go to almost always means it will be replace by something else - likely better than what you had planned to do anyway.
 Other tips
- Do not go to sessions about something you know about, it is bound to be largely too basic for you.
- Pick a few sessions that appear to have absolutely no direct relevance to your current work. This is where you pick up the most new ideas and inspirations.
- Skip a session and hang out in the hallways chatting with others playing hooky, visit the posters, visit the bookstore, visit the vendors. Though the time between sessions is designed for this, the crowds can sometimes be overwhelming (unless this hotel has better space design, in Boston it was like salmon swimming upstream between sessions).
 After the Annual Meeting
Your First Annual Meeting is just the beginning. Once you get home from San Francisco, consider:
- If you're a session speaker, submitting an article to American Archivist based on your presentation
- Proposing a session or other event for next year's Annual Meeting in Austin, TX Share Session Ideas on the wiki.
- Taking a leadership role or suggesting activities for one of the Sections or Roundtables. This is much easier (and warmly welcomed) than you might expect.
- Participating in (or even initiating or teaching) one of SAA's many Continuing Professional Education opportunities
- Checking out Publications from SAA to read further about the many topics you've explored in San Francisco
- Making the 2009 Wiki] all that it can be, by sharing ideas and volunteering to work on it.