of the American Society for Information Science

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Volume 25, No. 6

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August / September 1999

 

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The President's Page

Candy Schwartz

In June, I sent each ASIS member a letter outlining recent Board actions and our plans for the future. The text of this President's Page is drawn from that letter, with more detail on services and activities.

For the two years I have been on the Board of Directors, we have been engaged in a systematic development of plans to strengthen the Society's services to membership. In addition we are working to increase the perception of the Society as the organization which speaks best to all of us who work with information and technology. This planning effort is multifaceted, including a modification in name, more targeted member services and a revision of the way our Special Interest Groups respond to issues inside and outside the Society. Specific recommendations and activities are highlighted in the following items.

Name

The Board recommends that the American Society for Information Science be changed to the American Society for Information Science & Technology. Initial discussion surrounding this change resulted from a posting from President-elect Gene Garfield to the ASIS-L.

The discussion continued at the Mid-Year Meeting in Pasadena, where an international and diverse group of members participated in a lively conversation. About 20 members spoke. None opposed adding technology to the name; however, possible acronyms were a subject of lively debate. For example, some members felt that ASIST would suggest an aid or charitable organization, rather than a professional information society. However, much of the discussion focused on whether International should be added to the name or, alternatively, American should be dropped. While ASIS does have international activities, some members felt that it should do more at an international level if it wished to bill itself that way and asked whether the commitment was there to expand internationally. An international member also pointed out that many American-based professional groups, such as the American Chemical Society, have retained American in their name and that, indeed, some international members of such groups prefer it.

We plan to provide many more opportunities for member input before coming to the point of balloting.

[Editor's note: the Bulletin has received no adverse reaction to the change. At the time this issue of the Bulletin went to press (in late June) there had been no discussion of the name change on ASIS-L since before the Mid-Year Meeting. What has appeared on ASIS-L was, as at the Mid-Year, largely concerned with the 'international' issue. There is, therefore, nothing that the Bulletin can add to the above discussion.  I refer readers to the June/July issue of the Bulletin, which is now also on the ASIS Web site (www.asis.org) or to ASIS-L for the text of Gene Garfield's original proposal.]

Membership

ASIS wants to offer programs of value that will retain current membership and attract new members. This year one of my charges to the Membership Committee was to develop programs which would reach members who do not attend meetings. At the Mid-Year Meeting, the committee suggested a number of innovative services. These include sections of the Web site where members could find links to funding sites, ways of connecting between mentors and mentees, a career corner, geographic listings of SIG members and SIG listings of chapter members, improvements to the forms for joining and renewal, and so on. They have also outlined methods for members to recommend possible recruits and for reinforcing the activities of chapters in contacting non-renewals. Also this year, the Information Science Education Committee will be presenting programs targeted specifically to students attending the Annual Meeting.

To achieve a better understanding of current membership characteristics, especially in this fast-changing environment, the Board plans to collect data that will better inform us of your affiliations and needs. Chapters and SIGs who gather member information on such points as workplace, job title, affiliation with other societies, demographics and so on are encouraged to share these data with the Board. Such information will soon be captured on a continuous basis. We are also developing methods to gain greater ongoing knowledge about what other associations are doing, what possibilities exist for cooperation and collaboration and which communities are priorities for recruitment.

Chapters and SIGs

I would like to say how especially pleased I was at Chapter Assembly to hear of the outstanding programs and activities being undertaken by your local chapters. These include meetings on hot topics, tours, student research presentations, directories, Web sites, community service and administrative tools for ensuring smooth-running activities. Chapters have been encouraged to share successes on the Chapters-L listserv, and we plan to include planning guides and other useful Chapter materials on the Web site. Chapter events reach more members than national meetings, so I am thrilled to see such vitality and enthusiasm.

SIGs are also to be congratulated for their contributions to the content of our meetings. At the Mid-Year SIG Cabinet there was an interesting and forthcoming discussion of how it might be possible to modify structure of the SIGs. These changes could help SIGs provide more value to members, make the formation and cessation of SIGs less onerous and better position SIGs as a primary attraction to nonmembers from specialist areas. As a result of those discussions Mike Stallings and Sam Hastings have prepared a paper presenting some models for reforming the SIG structure. Their paper is included in Inside ASIS, beginning on page 6, and is also available on the ASIS Web site. All members are strongly encouraged to consider the plans for SIG reorganization and participate in the upcoming discussions both on the ASIS-L and at the ASIS Annual Meeting in Washington.

Meetings

Last year, the Board undertook to investigate different formats for meetings, from videoconferencing and retreats to Mid-Year Meetings as we know them now and Mid-Years as they used to be (on college campuses). For each, we considered strengths, weaknesses, competitive environments, feasibility, costs and regional replicability. This was placed in the context of feedback from membership as well as current societal, educational and employment trends that affect attendance at meetings and participation in professional groups. As a result, our next spring gathering will be a tightly focussed and highly practical meeting. There will continue to be a role for SIGs and for local chapters as per usual. It is possible that details on that meeting may have been released by the time you are reading this, and I am sure that you will be as excited as I am.

Of course, we have a great Annual Meeting planned for Sunday, October 31 – Thursday, November 4, 1999, at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Washington. The Annual Meeting was there two years ago, and, as many of you will remember, the Marriott was a very comfortable meeting venue and a great base for quick sightseeing and good eating.

This year the Program Committee has divided the broad theme, Knowledge Creation, Organization and Use , into the five tracks shown in the accompanying Annual Meeting sidebar. Each track will have its own keynote or overview session. Unlike previous Annual Meetings, the conference proper will actually begin on Sunday afternoon, with an opening plenary at 2:00 p.m. that will be followed by simultaneous track overviews at 3:30. The overviews will provide basic knowledge that will help those of us new to an area to follow the track sessions during the three days and provide all of us a way to catch up ont hehappenings in these fast moving fields. Be sure to mark your calendars for this exciting beginning and to check the Web for updated information, program details and registration information.

I look forward to seeing you in Washington. I promise to bring a coat this time to guarantee wonderfully warm weather.

Publications and Communication

The latest Annual Review of Information Science and Technology has been published, and the next is underway. A search is in place for an editor who will continue the fine work of Martha Williams starting with the volume for the year 2001. Tables of contents for the Journal, the full-text of the Bulletin and full-text or abstracts for conference presentations continue to be added to the Web site, contributing to the Society's digital library.

The Web site is growing and evolving in other ways as well. In the coming months we will enhance its value to current and potential membership. Some of these enhancements speak to the initiative of the Membership Committee. Others include the addition of some of the materials that are vital to our committee, chapter and SIG officers, and the development of new tools to help these and other leaders be most effective.

Marketing and Visibility

Last year the Board received a report on visibility from a task force of members. This group identified a number of short-term and long-term actions designed to promote the value of our contribution to the information communities. The Board and Headquarters have already taken action on many of these recommendations. We are also collaborating with a marketing organization to assist us in communicating the strengths of our Society.

One of the task force recommendations was to develop a  program advisory group to engage in environmental scanning and keep us on top of trends and developments. This was established last year, and one of its first activities was to present an organized list of 'hot topics' which could be inculcated into meeting, continuing education and publication activities. This was shared with committees, editors, SIGs, chapters and other groups.

Participation

Ann Prentice submitted a report on ALA's Congress on Professional Education, to which she served as our representative, supported by members of the Board and the Information Science Education Committee. Participants reviewed the state of higher education, LIS education and the profession; began to identify core values for curricular development; discussed the accreditation process; and explored the roles of educators, employers, alumni and professional associations in preparing new information professionals. Her report is reprinted in Inside ASIS, beginning on page 10, in this issue of the Bulletin. Watch the ALA Web site for the official final report and future actions.

You can see that your Board is working hard, directed by an overall plan to take up the challenges of a new century. I view one of my roles as ensuring that these activities and programs are maintained as continuous procedures, rather than completed once and then ignored or lost to memory. I know that we can count on your support, and I trust that you will continue to contribute your comments, suggestions and reactions, either on the ASIS-L or through direct e-mail to me (cschwartz@simmons.edu.)

1999 ASIS Mid-Year Meeting

The 1999 Mid-Year Meeting was a smashing success with respect to content and programming and attracted a large number of attendees. This was my first visit to Pasadena, and one of the many nice things about the Pasadena Hilton was its proximity to Old Pasadena, with a wide array of shops and restaurants and easy access to some of the nation's finest museums. I must admit that I was expecting to spend some time by the pool with a pi–a colada and made the mistake of not even bringing warm clothes. No doubt as a consequence, the weekend was rainy and chilly (many of us were awakened by thunder on Sunday morning), although the sun returned sporadically for the rest of the week.

Thanks go out to meeting chairs John Bertot, Carol Hert and Charles McClure, their able program committee consisting of Anne Buck, Michael Crandall, Geoffrey Ford, Ed Fox and Paul Kantor, and the site Web team of Jeff Pomerantz and Sarah Allen. Dean Ray Vondran and the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University provided moral support and funding for a graduate assistant to work on the program. On the local arrangements side the Los Angeles Chapter (LACASIS) members were wonderful hosts, and I want to recognize the efforts of LACASIS executives Linda McCann, Dudee Chiang and Marianne Afifi; Pasadena information Web site creators Eileen Flick, Louisa Toot and Bo-Gay Tong Salvador, and promotion manager Barbara Busch.

Mid-Year proceedings will be available as a published book, complementing the content already  available at the Web site. You will find in these sources many valuable papers and presentations on metrics and evaluation in networked environments.

ASIS Annual Meeting 1999

Knowledge Creation, Organization and Use

Our ability to transform data into information and to transform information into knowledge that can be shared can change the face of work, education and life. We have increasing capacity to generate or gather, model, represent and retrieve more complex, cross-disciplinary and multi-format data and ideas from new sources and at varying scales. The transformational power of information can only be capitalized upon through knowledge acquisition, classification, utilization and dissemination research, tools and techniques. 

The conference will look at current (and imminent) knowledge creation, acquisition, navigation, correlation, retrieval, management and dissemination practicalities and potentialities, their implementation and impact, and the theories behind the developments. We will review the processes, technologies and tools, such as rights tracking, interfaces and visualization, search engine design and capabilities, and automated indexing and classification. We will also look at the appropriate or necessary operational policies, relevant legal issues (laws, legislation and the EU Directive) and possible international and domestic policies and regulations.

The conference will feature five tracks: 

  • Knowledge Discovery, Capture and Creation: Capturing tacit knowledge, data mining and other ways to get knowledge into the system, e.g., capturing the results of collaboration, expert directories. Keynote speaker: Victor Rosenberg, University of Michigan
  • Classification and Representation: Interface design, information visualization, taxonomies, clustering, indexing. Keynote speaker: Raya Fidel, University of Washington.
  • Information Retrieval:  Engines, browsing versus searching, navigation, data mining.  Keynote speaker: Matthew Koll, America Online.
  • Knowledge Dissemination: Communication, publishing, push versus pull. Keynote speaker: Don King, King Research.
  • Ethical, Cultural, Social & Behavioral Aspects: Information acceptance vs. rejection, behavior modifications, policies and politics, value assessments, corporate and national information cultures, knowledge seeking behavior, training, managing knowledge management. Keynote speaker: José-Marie Griffiths, University of Michigan.
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@ 1999, American Society for Information Science