of The American Society for Information Science

Vol. 26, No. 6

August/Septmeber 2000

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The President's Page

Eugene Garfield, President, American Society for Information Science

Name Change Approved

The Board of Directors met in Washington on May 21-22. The most significant action concerned the reiteration of our earlier decision to change our name to the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T). Previously, the Board had unanimously recommended this change but wanted to have strong confirmation of this decision from the membership.

In February, a ballot was mailed to all members concerning both the name change and modification of the constitution so that only a two-thirds majority is required for changes in the constitution.

As reported in my last report ( Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, June/July 2000), 69.7% of the members approved the name change and 85% approved the constitutional change. In further confirmation that the Board was acting appropriately, the opinions of our attorney and parliamentarian were obtained. On the basis of the overwhelming vote in favor of the changes, as well as the confirming opinion of counsel, the Board re-approved the changes. Of the 10 members present, eight voted in favor and two abstained. Two members of the Board were absent.

Having made this historic change, the Board formed a Task Force, chaired by Doug Kaylor, whose job will be the delineation of all tasks that need to be performed due to the name change. In particular, the Task Force will prepare recommendations of how to communicate the impact of the change to the membership and to the information community at large. The appropriate legal documents to change our charter have been filed in the District of Columbia by our attorney.

The change in our name culminates many years of discussions in the Society. In combination with other actions we have taken this year, I believe the Society can more effectively deal with the problem of declining membership. This includes the provision of more effective well-balanced programs both at national and other meetings, in SIGs and in our publications. In particular, our new name should facilitate recruitment of information technology firms as institutional members and make the society more attractive to practitioners.


As of June 14th, we had 2510 regular members and 762 student members. The total of 3272 is slightly higher than the figure two months ago of 3247. In addition, the number of institutional members increased by 5 to a total of 254.

In order to accelerate institutional membership, new promotional material is already in preparation. All members are urged to recruit from their own institutions as well as from the hundreds of vendors that serve our profession. These firms draw on our membership. Many of their future employees are found among our members and the students our members train.

Please refer to my previous report for the reasons why libraries are excellent prospects for ASIS&T institutional membership.


Plans for the national meeting in Chicago, November 14-16, are well under way. Nancy Roderer, our chair, has lined up an excellent slate of speakers and contributors, including John Seeley Brown of Xerox PARC, and Tony Oettinger of Harvard University. Promotional material is under preparation, but in the meantime, refer to the ASIS website


and make reservations at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. Camera-ready copy of abstracts should be received by July 1, 2000. The program theme "Knowledge Innovations: Celebrating our Heritage, Designing our Future" will help us to assess where we have come from and where we are going as we enter the new millennium. There will be sessions devoted to information retrieval, user behaviors, knowledge management, digital libraries and the future of electronic books. Please refer to the ASIS website for more details on this exciting program.

Due to the success of the Boston Summit meeting on Information Architecture, another meeting on this topic is planned with a West Coast venue at the end of this year or early next year. The same successful team of Victor Rosenberg, Lou Rosenfeld and Gary Marchionini have accepted the Board's invitation to spearhead this meeting. If it is anything like the Boston meeting, expect lively interactive sessions involving participation by this highly creative group of "webologists."

The Board also approved the venue for ASIS 2002 to be held in Philadelphia at the Wyndham Franklin Plaza Hotel.


It may be too early in the renewal process, but so far the number of our members who have signed up for the electronic version of JASIS is significantly below expectations. Only 328 members have chosen this option. An additional 54 have elected to take both print and online. Less than 10% of our members have opted for the electronic alternative but this may change after the summer hiatus. I think this experience is matched by other societies. While scientists and scholars have adopted the Web for e-mail and other functions, it is clear they are not yet ready to give up the convenience and other values of print. Libraries remain justifiably concerned about future archiving of electronic documents. The Web facilitates worldwide communication and has made it possible for foreign colleagues to participate in real time discussions of current issues. But we are still dependent upon print.

The final tallies on the renewals to JASIS for 2000 would indicate that total revenues will approximate $600,000 and thereby the royalty to ASIS will be approximately $120,000.


About 15 authors have been lined up for Volume 36. Manuscripts are due in the fall. Final edited text will be submitted to the publisher, Information Today, by February.


Since there have been no new meetings or significant changes in membership, there is nothing new to report. However, in spite of the financial success of recent national and summit meetings, we have very limited resources and minimal reserves.

In order to reduce costs and/or improve our efficiency, the Board directed last year that we investigate the use of outside association management firms. Through such an organization, ASIS might be able to take advantage of shared facilities and information systems to reduce both rental and operating costs. A number of organizations in the Washington area were contacted, not because ASIS requires a Washington base (we do no lobbying) but because we wanted to retain as many of our existing employees as possible. An RFP was sent out in March to which seven firms responded. Only three of the responses were deemed realistic within our financial restraints.

However, in view of the somewhat improved financial picture this year and the expected new activities resulting from our name change, further action on interviewing potential candidates was deferred. Dick Hill was directed to renegotiate a lease with reduced space. Should we decide to use an outside organization in the future, we expect to be able to sublet the space. The Board's discussion of these options indicates that there is a great need to clarify the role of headquarters in directing the activities of this society. Without this clarification, it is difficult to evaluate how any outside group can contribute to the future growth of ASIS&T.


The successful meeting in Boston on Information Architecture led to the formation of the new SIG-IA which is co-chaired by Marla Gunasegaram and Ed Housman. A listserv sigia-l@ asis.org has been established. Instructions for subscribing are at


Already, 780 people have signed up for the listserv. A website for this SIG is being set up.

A new SIG-DL (Digital Libraries) was approved by the board. The chair pro-tem is Allison Kopczynski while the chair-elect is Suzie Allard. This new SIG has already applied for a charter and has established a niche in the annual program.

SIG-KM (Knowledge Management) was officially begun in November, guided by Past President Mike Buckland. SIG-KM has two sessions scheduled at the annual meeting on teaching knowledge management and historical foundations of knowledge management.

The Board endorsed the forthcoming international conference honoring the new Alexandria Library to be held in Alexandria, Egypt, in December 2000 or early 2001. President Elect Joseph Busch will attend and represent ASIS together with Bahaa El-Hadidy, Chair-Elect of SIG III. Details have been provided on the ASIS Listserv.

Chapter Activity

A significant number of attendees at the Information Architecture meeting were from the San Francisco Bay area. We are hoping that a northern California chapter of ASIS can be revived under the direction of President-Elect Joe Busch.

During the past few months I have visited ASIS chapters in Denton, Texas, Central Ohio, Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, Indianapolis and New York. Additional visits to student and regular chapters in Tucson, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle in October are already scheduled.

Here's wishing everyone a great summer.

Eugene Garfield is chairman Emeritus of ISI® and publisher of The Scientist®. He can be reached by mail at 3501 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; by telephone at 215/243-2205; by fax at 215/387-1266; by e-mail at garfield@codex.cis.upenn.edu. His home page is at www.EugeneGarfield.org

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