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Bulletin, August/September 2008
2008 ASIS&T President
I don’t know about others of you in the academic world, but once upon a time I imagined that moving to that sector would give me lovely, quiet summers. Turns out not to be true in medical centers, but in addition to that this summer has been an extraordinarily busy time in ASIS&T as well. Your stories about what you are doing should you be so lucky to have a quiet summer would be welcome as vicarious reading. Meanwhile there is much to report.
The publications area has been particularly busy. While you are likely to have heard about our new JASIST editor, Blaise Cronin, by the time this column is published, as I write it is very new information. Blaise, the Rudy Professor of Information Science and the Dean of the School of Library and Information Science at Indiana University, is both a thought leader in our field and a person of considerable editorial service. In his application for the position, he described JASIST in relation to other journals in the field, saying “…JASIST differs in one key respect from all of these competitors and others such as D-Lib Magazine and First Monday: Its scope is information science in-the-round, not one or other of its many sub-fields, be it IR, digital libraries or HCI. This very catholicity differentiates JASIST from most other journals and confers on it a powerful comparative advantage in an otherwise congested arena.” We are indeed fortunate, both to have had such a fine editor in Don Kraft and to have Blaise willing to take over the helm now.
As noted in my last column, at the April Board meeting the Board approved an International Relations Committee proposal to create a Global Alliance of Information Sciences, Technologies and Service Societies. The proposal notes that the Alliance will create a common space in which national and international scholarly and professional societies active in whole or part of the broad field of information sciences, technologies and services will be able to accomplish the following:
- Offer an attractive image to prospective entrants in the information professions
- Facilitate the sharing of public information resources
- Facilitate the identification and implementation of joint activities
- Facilitate for their members exposure to international activities and resources and international networking
- Therefore better respond to the needs of their members with regard to the growing importance of the international dimensions of the field.
This ambitious undertaking will be a long-term project, but we have to begin by sending letters of invitation to a large and varied group of other information-related organizations worldwide.
There has also been excellent progress on my presidential initiative being spearheaded by the Task Force on Information Professionals and carried out in partnership with the Council on Library and Information Resources. We commissioned a data collection and analysis project to obtain background information, and two graduate students at the University of Washington’s I-School, Samantha Becker and Bo Kinney, provided us with a fascinating report describing the existence of about 900 distinct information-related master’s programs spread across 468 institutions. Disciplinary domains in which these programs are located include business, engineering, computer science, information science, applied information science/informatics, biological and health sciences, library science, public administration, communications and education. Sixty percent of the programs have majors or concentrations in at least one of the following categories: information systems, informatics, information technology or information science.
The full report by Becker and Kinney – must reading for anyone interested in information professional education – is available at www.asist.org/news.html. The report is also being made available to the information organizations that will join us at an invitational meeting in September to consider the establishment of a new accreditation process for the range of master’s degree programs that educate information professionals – over 50 invitations have gone out, and responses are flowing in.
These are significant accomplishments in three quite distinct areas, but at the same time they are linked. Each serves a role in sharpening our vision of the very broad field of information science and technology, and each helps in communicating that vision to the world.
Nancy K. Roderer is director of the Welch Medical Library, Johns Hopkins University, and current president of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. She can be reached by email at nroderer<at>jhmi.edu
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