Bulletin, December 2006/January 2007

2006 Cretsos Award Winner


by Naida Caidi

Nadia Caidi, 2005-2006 SIG/III chair, is associate professor in the Faculty of Information Studies at University of Toronto. She can be reached by email at caidi<at>fis.utoronto.ca. 

What a surprise and a delight to receive the James Cretsos Leadership Award and to share it with my wonderful colleague, Caryn Anderson! 

This award is really a tribute to the wonderful teamwork spirit of the Special Interest Group/International Issues in Information (SIG/III), which I had the pleasure to chair this year (and with which Caryn has also been actively involved). Such a strong and dedicated team makes leadership easy and natural. 

I became a member of ASIS&T when I was a doctoral student. At that time, I was looking for a forum that could be my scholarly home, and my mentors and role models such as Christine Borgman and Marcia Bates all happened to be ASIS&T members. I joined ASIS&T because I wanted to be a part of the broader information science community, and it seemed to be the obvious (and only) venue to do so. No other association really brings together information scholars (in all their diversity) the way ASIS&T does. Many years later, as a supervisor for six doctoral students in Toronto, Canada, I encourage my own students to also think about ASIS&T as their primary home and to join this great network. In 2004, the students created a University of Toronto Chapter of ASIS&T, for which I have been serving as the faculty advisor.

Although I hold a membership in various SIGs, the one that has a special status for me is SIG/III. Since the beginning I have been struck by the warmth and inclusiveness of the SIG/III officers. Michel Menou, who introduced me to SIG/III, remains a wonderful mentor and friend. Other long-time contributors to the SIG who have also shared their passion and dedication include Sue Johnson, Yin Zhang, Toni Carbo, Bahaa El Hadidy and many others. I held various positions within the SIG (communications officer, marketing chair, jury member for the International Paper Contest, and chair-elect) before becoming the chair in 2005-2006. Through SIG/III I have come to realize how privileged we (in the West) are in terms of access to information, resources and technologies, and how much we take these aspects for granted. At SIG/III, we strive to promote (through discussions and practical initiatives) equity issues as well as diversity of viewpoints by providing a forum for information sharing and exchange with our colleagues from all over the world, particularly developing nations. It has been tremendously rewarding to watch various colleagues from India, China, Brazil and Nigeria get involved in various SIG/III (and ASIS&T) activities and become mentors and resource people for new members. 

Through initiatives such as the International Paper Contest (now in its seventh year), the InfoShare program (which awards one-year ASIS&T memberships to information professionals in developing countries), the International Calendar of Information Science Conferences, as well as the Global Information Village Plaza (which Michel Menou and I co-organized for three years, and is now in the able hands of Aaron Bowen and Amanda Wilson), and the new Mentorship Program, we are able to broaden the scope and reach of ASIS&T to address global issues that concern us all. This year, we further signaled our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness by adding two new positions to an already international roster of SIG/III officers. We established SIG/III co-chair and co-chair elect positions, both of which are to be filled by individuals residing outside North America. For 2005-2006, I was fortunate to have Miriam Vieira da Cunha, from Brazil, as a co-chair, and our co-chair elect was a previous winner of the International Paper Contest, Ifeanyichukwu (Ify) Njoku, from Nigeria. 

The future looks bright for SIG/III and ASIS&T with such leaders as next year’s SIG/III chair, Duncan Omole, from Kenya (who is also a previous winner of the International Paper Contest and is now at the World Bank). He will be leading an internationally competent and dedicated team that will continue to collaborate with other SIGs and benefit ASIS&T as a whole. Mine has been a humbling experience, where I learnt as much as I contributed. As long as ASIS&T will keep recruiting and retaining able and dedicated individuals from all parts of the intellectual and geographical spectrum, it is headed in the right direction. 

I encourage everyone to check out the great work of SIG/III (at www.asis.org/SIG/SIGIII/) and more importantly to join a SIG (or two or three) and become involved. The payoff is tremendous.