The Society of Georgia Archivists held its 51st Annual Meeting November 11-13, 2020–its first-ever all-virtual conference–with the theme “Building Partnerships and Dismantling Barriers.” Our keynote speaker was Dorothy Berry, Digital Collections Program Manager at Harvard’s Houghton Library, whose talk was titled, “My Soul Looks Back in Wonder: Remembering Black History in the Archives.”
In spite of all the changes and challenges presented by this year, the conference was the best-attended of any meeting in the Society’s history, boasting 206 registrants, 200 attendees, 58 presenters, 26 presentations, and seven vendors. SGA was proud to be able to offer free registration to members and presenters, and $35 registration to non-members.
Our two pre-conference workshops were similarly well-attended, hitting capacity in both virtual events. On November 5, 2020, Magda Pecsenye, creator of the Tilmor Process, presented “Manage Your Team to Greater Efficiency and Engagement with the Tilmor Process,” and on November 6, Shaundra Walker, Interim Director of the University Library, Georgia College, presented the workshop, “Critical Race Theory and the Archive.”
All meetings were held via Zoom, and the conference planning committees opted to have two day-long tracks to minimize the number of links attendees would need to manage. We chose not to employ a managed content platform, choosing instead to provide the links to registered attendees via the annual meeting program and daily email blasts. This decision allowed overhead costs for running the meeting to be kept to a minimum.
The planning committees additionally kept a Slack workspace with multiple channels open for the duration of the conference. This space was used not only to troubleshoot technology issues, but also to provide an informal chat environment for attendees to connect with one another and with vendors. The SGA Executive Board also maintained a channel to address questions about our duties, share opportunities for committee work, and to encourage members to run for office.
Our vendors, too, had an important role to play in the conference. Depending upon their chosen level of sponsorship, vendors were able to give presentations during conference breaks, and were thanked by facilitators at the start of each session. Some sponsors contributed either virtual or physical giveaways for our attendee swag bags and raffle prizes.
In all, we are pleased with the conference’s success and happy to answer questions from other state and regional organizations planning a similar shift to an online conference. Feel free to contact us anytime.
Written and contributed by Angela Stanley, 2020 SGA President.