Inside ASIS

Highlights of the ASIS Annual Meeting

The 1997 ASIS Annual Meeting, held in early November in Washington, DC, met the expectations of meeting organizers, society leaders and enthusiastic attendees, as nearly 1000 attendees delved into Digital Collections: Implications for Users, Funders, Developers and Maintainers.

With the usual mix of invited speakers, contributed papers, SIG-sponsored panel sessions, demonstrations, continuing education courses, business meetings and social events, the week’s program drew praise for both the depth and breadth of its presentations.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the ASIS Board of Directors commended Joseph A. Busch, chair of the Technical Program Committee, and committee members Terry Beamsley, David Bearman, Nicholas Belkin, Bernd Frohmann, Judy Gerber, Myke Gluck, Karen Howell, Mark Rorvig, Candy Schwartz and Stephen Toney for their efforts.

Throughout this issue of the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and at the ASIS Web site, you will find coverage of some of the meeting’s highlights. But first, here’s a look at some of the faces of ASIS ‘97.

ASIS Board Seats New Members

As the ASIS administrative year came to an end at the conclusion of the Annual Meeting, new members of the ASIS Board of Directors took their seats on the board for the 1998 administrative year.

Michael Buckland, professor at the University of California at Berkeley, assumed the presidency from Debora Shaw. In addition, as a result of membership balloting conducted during the summer, three new members joined the Board. Candy Schwartz, professor at Simmons College in Boston, took her seat as president-elect; Pat Molholt, assistant vice president and associate dean for scholarly resources at Columbia Health Sciences, and Ray Larson, specialist in the design and performance evaluation of information systems, assumed their duties as directors-at-large.

As the new Board prepared to begin its work, the efforts of those who left the Board after several years of service were commended. Clifford Lynch, immediate past president, and Carol Tenopir and Barbara Kwasnik, directors-at-large, were thanked for their distinguished service and contributions to the society.

Honoring the Best of Information Science: The 1997 ASIS Annual Awards

Winners of the prestigious 1997 ASIS Annual Awards were announced and honored throughout the recent ASIS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. Nominated by practitioners and scholars throughout the information field and selected by juries of their peers, dozens of outstanding representatives of the field of information science were cited for the highest levels of contributions in their selected specialties.

Award of Merit

Dagobert Soergel, professor in the College of Library and Information Services, University of Maryland, College Park, is the recipient of the 1997 ASIS Award of Merit, the Society’s highest honor. The award honors Soergel for his lifelong contribution to the theory of information science and to the development of information storage and retrieval systems. He had a very early vision for the development of the field. Combining the wisdom of a philosopher and the rigorous thinking of a scientist, he is acknowledged as a leader in the field of information science.

Dr. Soergel has been a prolific writer of journal papers, consultancy reports and conference papers which demonstrate his ability to cut to the heart of a problem and identify the real issues. His two major books, Indexing Languages and Thesauri: Construction and Maintenance and Organizing Information: Principles of Data Base and Retrieval Systems, are modern classics which have significantly advanced our understanding of information systems designs.

His career epitomizes the ultimate interrelationship between research and teaching. Much of his work has proven to be inspirational and has provided direction for other researchers to follow. His expertise and capabilities as a professor are so widely recognized that he has been invited to teach in Canada and Europe in addition to his position at the University of Maryland.

It is for his extraordinary and continuous contributions to the field of information science that Dr. Dagobert Soergel has earned this recognition. (See feature article beginning on page 10 of this issue of the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science for Dr. Soergel’s acceptance speech for the Award of Merit.)

Watson Davis Award

The Watson Davis Award, named for the founder of the Society, is given annually to an individual who has shown continuous dedicated service to the ASIS membership through active participation in and support of ASIS programs, chapters, SIGs, committees and publications.

The 1997 Watson Davis Award was given to Karla Petersen, Loyola University, Chicago, in recognition of 23 years of active, unstinting service to ASIS. Karla has worked within ASIS at every level from chapters and Special Interest Groups to the national level as member of the ASIS Board of Directors, SIG Cabinet Director and chair of an Annual Meeting. In naming Karla the Watson Davis Award winner, the jury noted that she is "a popular member of any team she joins and completes all tasks she takes on in timely, high quality fashion."

James Cretsos Leadership Award

The James Cretsos Leadership Award recognizes a new ASIS member who has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities in professional ASIS activities. Named for James Cretsos, 1979 ASIS president and longtime contributor to ASIS, the 1997 award goes to Geoffrey McKim of Indiana University.

In the five short years that Geoff has been an ASIS member he has co-authored a chapter on "Groupware" in the 1995 Annual Review of Information Science and Technology (ARIST); served as chair-elect, chair and Chapter Assembly representative of the Indiana Chapter; developed the technical implementation for the ASIS Web site; moderated a technical session at the 1996 Mid-Year Meeting; served on the ASIS Continuing Education Committee; presented technical sessions on intranets at the 1996 Annual Meeting and for the Indiana Chapter; and co-presented a CE workshop on Computer Networks and Security at the 1997 Mid-Year Meeting.

Geoff is an outstanding ASIS member. He has contributed to the Society and the field in areas of research, leadership, technology and service. He exemplifies the qualities honored with the James Cretsos Leadership Award.

Research Award

The ASIS Research Award is given for a systematic program of research in a single area at a level beyond the single study and recognizes outstanding research contributions in the field of information science that have had significant and recent impact on the field.

Nicholas J. (Nick) Belkin, professor at Rutgers University, is the winner of the 1997 ASIS Research Award for his work on the role of human factors in retrieval systems. His research has broad-ranging implications that impact both theoretical and practical aspects of our field. He has published widely and has been recognized by funding agencies and by peers for his research. The jury was also impressed by his efforts to engage students in the research process and to mentor new researchers. In this way, his ideas will influence future information scientists in a very fundamental fashion.

Best JASIS Paper Award

Stephen P. Harter, professor at Indiana University, is the 1997 winner of the ASIS Best JASIS Paper Award, recognizing the best paper published in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science, evaluated on the basis of professional merit, contribution to the field and presentation quality. His paper, "Variations in Relevance Assessments and the Measurement of Retrieval Effectiveness," appeared in JASIS volume 47, issue 1, January 1996.

This paper brings attention to the problem of variations in relevance assessments and the effects these variations may have on measures of retrieval effectiveness. An analytical review of the literature is used to demonstrate that, although many variables have been shown to affect relevance judgments in experimental settings, the effects of these variables on retrieval measurement have not been explored. The author points out the need for rigorous and extensive tests of the ways in which variations in relevance assessments do and do not affect measures of retrieval performance and the need to recognize that approaches to evaluation must reflect the real world of real users.

The award jury recognized the importance of this topical area to the field. Through his rigorous and comprehensive analysis, Harter provided a readable and understandable explication of a complex problem.

Pratt-Severn Student Research Award

Previously known as the Best Student Paper Award, this award is now sponsored by Pratt Institute, which is using a generous bequest from alumnus David Stern to recognize and encourage student research in information science. The award is given for master’s level research papers.

Melinda Axel, Drexel University, received the 1997 Pratt-Severn Student Research Award for her paper entitled, "Data Warehouse Design for Pharmaceutical Drug Discovery Research." This well-written paper proposes a framework for the application of data warehousing to integrate a pharmaceutical company's drug discovery data, supporting searches making use of these data in response to a variety of types of questions. The potential benefits of this approach to data management are clearly presented.

UMI Doctoral Dissertation Award

Harry Bruce of the University of New South Wales is the winner of the 1997 UMI Doctoral Dissertation Award for his dissertation entitled "A User-Oriented View of Internet as Information Infrastructure." The dissertation rated highly on all of the criteria identified for the award: importance of topic; soundness of methodology; organization and clarity of presentation; and quality of the data. The dissertation is well organized, well written and easy to read, while at the same time, it is precise in the presentation of complex material. The work has the potential to contribute to theory development in its confirmation of the validity of the user-oriented paradigm in evaluation of any information resource.

Completed dissertations submitted to the UMI Doctoral Dissertation Award jury are judged on the importance of the topic to information science, quality of the literature review, appropriateness and soundness of the research methodology, analysis of the results and conclusions, and clarity of presentation.

ISI Information Science Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Scholarship

The ISI Information Science Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Scholarship, a cash award sponsored by the Institute for Scientific Information, fosters research in information science by encouraging and assisting doctoral dissertations submitted by graduate students who have completed their course work for their doctoral degrees.

The 1997 ISI Information Science Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Scholarship was awarded to R. David Lenkes for his proposed research, "Building and Maintaining Internet Information Services." The selection of this proposal was based on several factors. Lenkes is exploring an emerging area of digital reference services that will contribute significantly to our understanding of the changing information environment. The proposed methodology is well-conceived, sound and rigorous. The proposal reflects Lenkes’ knowledge of the problems and issues in this area and is presented in a clear and comprehensive manner. Overall, this research has the potential for important contributions to the field of information science.

Best Information Science Book Award

The Best Information Science Book Award is given annually to the author(s) and publisher of an outstanding book relevant to information science, including all communications activities and information science and technology fields defined in the purpose of ASIS.

The winner of the 1997 Best Information Science Book Award is Bryce Allen of the University of Missouri-Columbia for his book Information Tasks: Toward a User-Centered Approach to Information Systems, published by Academic Press.

The major theme of this book is important and central to information science. The approach is unique and may affect the thinking and behavior of many information professionals. Both the approach and organization of material in this book are innovative and imaginative. The book looks at information institutions and the profession, in addition to user behavior, opinions and system design. It is well written and clearly thought out, citing significant studies and extensive literature. A very scholarly approach.

Chapter Awards Chapter-of-the-Year

The Los Angeles Chapter of ASIS (LACASIS) is the winner of the 1997 ASIS Chapter-of-the-Year Award, bestowed on outstanding chapters for their participation in and contributions to ASIS and the advancement of information science. This is the fifth such award for LACASIS in the 1990s.

Student Chapter-of-the-Year

The Student Chapter-of-the-Year Award recognizes the ASIS student chapter that has participated in and contributed the most to ASIS and the advancement of information science.

The 1997 Student Chapter-of-the-Year Award was presented to the University of Washington Student Chapter, which also won the 1996 award.

Chapter Member-of-the-Year

The Chapter Member-of-the-Year Award recognizes the service of an individual to a particular chapter. It is given for significant contributions to the membership of the chapter through participation in and support of its meetings and publications; fundraising; recruitment; or other significant activities. For 1997, two winners were selected.

Vivian Hay of the Los Angeles Chapter of ASIS (LACASIS) has been active in the chapter since 1991. She has held various chapter offices, including serving as chair during 1993. In nominating Vivian for this award her colleagues noted that "no task is too small or large in her capable hands" and that "her most remarkable asset is her ability to see the solution in the most challenging of situations." Recently Vivian has directed her energies toward the Los Angeles chapter’s very successful annual workshop making arrangements for facilities and audio and telecommunication equipment. She also judges the chapter’s student essay competition and contributes articles to the newsletter. Vivian is recognized for her continuing contributions to the smooth running of the Los Angeles chapter.

John Tebo of the Southern Ohio ASIS Chapter (SOASIS) is regarded as an indispensable member of his chapter. In nominating him, his colleagues observe that "in eight years as an ASIS member, John has contributed more to his chapter than many members contribute in a professional lifetime." He has served as chair of several chapter committees and as chapter treasurer, secretary, and Assembly Representative. He has served as a member of the Chapter Assembly Advisory Committee. John has planned and promoted the SOASIS award-winning workshops and written for its newsletter. He is also known for his mentoring activities that encourage new members to participate actively in the chapter. The Southern Ohio ASIS Chapter has recognized John Tebo’s contributions with its Membership and Leadership Awards.

Chapter Event-of-the-Year

The Los Angeles Chapter of ASIS (LACASIS) is the winner of the 1997 Chapter Event-of-the-Year Award for "Pictures Talk: Interactive Multimedia on the Web," the chapter’s 1996 workshop.

The workshop was attended by 216 information professionals, 135 of whom were not ASIS members. In addition to raising LACASIS’ profile within the regional information community, the workshop increased the chapter’s visibility in the academic and commercial sectors. The LACASIS annual workshop posted a profit of almost $9000. Proceeds from the workshop fund the Margaret McKinley Scholarship, which sends one library/information science student a year to the ASIS Annual Meeting, and Society membership dues for the winner and two runners-up.

Best Chapter Publication-of-the-Year

The 1997 Best Chapter Publication-of-the-Year Award, recognizing the best publication produced by a chapter (or jointly by two or more chapters), was presented to the Potomac Valley Chapter for its newsletter, PVC Currents.

PVC Currents provides chapter members with timely information on chapter events and programs. The chapter published four issues last year that included reports from the chapter chair, minutes of Board meetings and summaries of chapter programs. Other articles provided descriptions of the chapter’s outreach program to introduce area senior citizens to the Internet and their scholarship program for student members. The Potomac Valley Chapter is recognized for its efforts to keep its members informed with PVC Currents.

SIG Awards SIG-of-the-Year

The annual SIG-of-the-Year Award is given to the SIG or SIGs that make the greatest contributions to ASIS based on such factors as publications for its members, the society and audiences outside of ASIS; public service; programs at Annual and Mid-Year Meetings; special projects and other noteworthy activities.

The 1997 ASIS SIG-of-the-Year Award was presented to SIG/International Information Issues (III). The SIG last won the award in 1993.

SIG Publication-of-the-Year

SIG/Classification Research (CR) is the winner of the 1997 SIG Publication-of-the-Year Award, in recognition of Volume 7 of Advances in Classification Research, proceedings from the 7th ASIS SIG/CR Classification Research Workshop. Edited by Paul Solomon, the papers are representative of the quality and depth of recent research in this field. Congratulations to SIG/CR for another excellent publication! Four previous volumes of proceedings from the annual workshop have been honored with the SIG Publication-of-the-Year Award.

News from ASIS Chapters

The Central Ohio ASIS (COASIS) Chapter focused on Building Your Benchmarking Competencies for the 21st Century: How You Can Strive and Thrive, a look at the importance of using appropriate business and management approaches to communicate the importance of information services to senior management, at its November meeting. Annette Gohlke, president and co-founder of Library Benchmarking International, was the featured guest.

For its Fall Kick-off Meeting in October, the Delaware Valley Chapter of ASIS presented Lynn Brooks, co-author of the recently published book, Seven Secrets of Successful Women, who shared some of her secrets for workplace success. Then in November, the chapter joined forces with the local SLA chapter to offer Exploring Information Visualization. Katherine McCain, College of Information Science and Technology, Drexel University, Robert Dougherty, Merck Research Labs, and William Wright, Visible Decisions, Inc., spoke on the background and general purposes of visualization as applied to information and discussed specific applications of visualization methods.

The European Chapter of ASIS proudly announces that it has launched its Web site with the help of a team from the Department of Information Science of the University of Constance, Germany. The site can be found at

Christine Borgman, recently appointed to the University of California’s Presidential Chair in Information Studies, is the winner of the 1997 LACASIS Contributions to Information Science Award, an annual award from the Los Angeles Chapter of ASIS (LACASIS). Borgman was to address the chapter’s membership in November in a talk entitled, Access to Information in the Networked World: Some Reflection from the Research Front.

The Fall 1997 Program of the New Jersey ASIS (NJ/ASIS) Chapter, held in conjunction with the Special Libraries Association chapter in the area, was a workshop on computer security. Among the scheduled participants were Jana Volavka, consultant on information strategy and Web architecture, providing an overview of Internet security problems and technologies to prevent them; Alan Martin of Sequel Technologies, talking about the importance of analyzing Web server usage; and Frank D’Arrigo, National Computer Security Association, discussing elements of computer security, roles and responsibilities and best practices.

Earlier in the fall, NJ/ASIS presented a program on Assessing the Value of Library and Information Services, featuring Paul Kantor, professor of information science at Rutgers University, reporting on a series of studies which seek to isolate the key dimensions of service, as perceived by users, at both academic and special libraries. The research for this presentation was conducted jointly with Tefko Saracevic, also of Rutgers.

Among the speakers scheduled for the December meeting of the Northern Ohio ASIS (NORASIS) Chapter is Huijie Chen, information systems analyst at Morrison Knudsen Corp., with a presentation entitled, A Small Search Engine for a Small Library: A Case Report. Also scheduled is Michael Kreyche, digital resource development specialist and assistant professor, Kent State University.

The October meeting of the Metropolitan New York Chapter of ASIS featured speakers on the topic of Telemedicine: Electronic Delivery of Health Care Services. Among the speakers were Donald Parsons, New York State Department of Health, and Jordan Stern, New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, discussing the use of telecommunications to deliver medical care to inaccessible locations. For December, the chapter has scheduled a visit to the New York Stock Exchange with presentations by the NYSE chief technology officer, managing director and information services folks.

The Indiana ASIS Chapter took a look at the weather for its September meeting and presented Steve Haines, meteorologist and lead forecaster with the National Weather Service (NWS) Indianapolis office, discussing the flow of data in and out of the NWS office.

News About ASIS Members

Nathan A. Rosen, formerly director of the library at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, has joined Credit Suisse First Boston as assistant vice president, Legal & Compliance Department.

Barbara B. Moran, dean since 1990 of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, will step down at the end of the current academic year. After a research leave, she will return to the school’s faculty to continue teaching and research.

Rob Kling and Howard Rosenbaum, both of Indiana University, received support from the National Science Foundation for a November workshop on Advances in Organizational and Social Informatics.

Tefko Saracevic, 1991 ASIS president and professor of library and information studies at Rutgers University, has received the Gerard Salton Award for Excellence in Information Retrieval. The award, presented by the Special Interest Group in Information Retrieval (SIGIR) of the Association for Computing Machinery, recognizes continued, influential research in information retrieval and honors Salton, a longtime ASIS member and a major figure in information retrieval research for many years.

Donald J. Waters, formerly associate university librarian at the Yale University Library, has joined the staff of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) as the director of the National Digital Library Federation. The federation comprises 15 libraries and archives that have identified three primary topics for its agenda: discovery and retrieval of digital information; intellectual property issues and economic models for the provision of digital information; and the archiving of digital information.

Kathy Hummel, librarian with the Santa Ana Public Library in California, and Sherry Little, doctoral candidate at the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Women’s University, are among those awarded 1997-98 fellowships by the ALA Library Fellows Program funded by the U.S. Information Agency. Hummel received a four-month user-instruction fellowship at the Documents and Information Center in La Paz, Bolivia, where she will facilitate access to specialized U.S. databases for Bolivian researchers focusing on education. Little will complete a four-month fellowship with the Estonian Academy of Sciences Library in Tallin, Estonia, where she will provide library automation training and support to the Academy and the Consortium of Estonian Libraries Network.

K. Wayne Smith, president and chief executive officer of OCLC Online Computer Library Center, has announced his plans to step down in June 1998. He has served as president since 1989. He indicated he will continue to serve OCLC in an advisory capacity after June 1998, but would no longer be involved in day-to-day management.

Blaise Cronin, professor of information science and dean of the School of Library and Information Science at Indiana University, has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris causa) by Queen Margaret College, Edinburgh. The honorary degree recognizes Cronin’s "distinguished academic career and outstanding contribution to the development of information science."

Francis Miksa, professor, University of Texas at Austin, and Jian Qin, assistant professor, University of Southern Mississippi, are the recipients of two Library and Information Science Research Grants awarded by the OCLC Office of Research. Miksa received a grant for Examining the Attributes of Information Resources on the World Wide Web and Testing for Their Usefulness as Metadata. Qin will investigate Computational Representation of Web Objects in an Interdisciplinary Digital Library: A Survey and an Experiment in Polymer Science.

Bella Hass Weinberg, professor in the Division of Library and Information Science, St. John's University, will offer a one-day professional development seminar entitled Vocabulary Links for Information Systems: An Introduction to Thesaurus Design and Natural Language Searching in Manhattan in April. Pre-registration discounts for the university-sponsored seminar are available to members of the American Society for Information Science.

NJ/ASIS Names Distinguished Lecturer

Dr. Peter Willett, professor and head of the department of information studies, and head, Computational Information Systems Research Group (CISRG), at the University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England, is the recipient of the 13th annual Distinguished Lectureship Award presented by the New Jersey ASIS (NJ/ASIS) Chapter.

The internationally recognized award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of information science.

Willett was scheduled to accept the NJ/ASIS honor at ceremonies at Rutgers University in early December. The evening presentation was to include Willett’s address entitled Similarity Measures for Database Searching. Earlier in the day, Willett was scheduled to address students and other interested persons in a colloquium entitled Textual and Chemical Information Processing: Different Domains but Similar Algorithms.