B  U  L  L  E  T  I  N

of the American Society for Information Science and Technology       Vol. 31, No. 3    February/March 2005

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ASIS&T President Nicholas J. BelkinPresident's Page

Nicholas J. Belkin
2005 ASIS&T President


This is entitled an inaugural address. My only substantive experiences with such addresses are those that are presented by presidents of the United States . Itís my fond hope that todayís be a happier occasion than what Iím going to experience on January 20th.  In any event, I guarantee that it will be briefer.

I would like first to thank the membership of ASIS&T for having made it possible for me to be standing here now. Iíll do all that I can over the next year to justify the trust youíve placed in me and to live up to the fine example set by our immediate past president, Sam Hastings.

The coming year for the Society brings great promise with a host of new member services and new delivery methods of member services. It also brings challenges, financial and other, as well as new opportunities. Today, Sam described some of the hard decisions that have had to be made and also some of the new initiatives that will be implemented during this year. Iíd like to offer her my heartfelt personal thanks for having volunteered to take the heat (hit) associated with announcing the dues increases for members; but she also got to announce the establishment of a lot of new benefits for members, as did Dick Hill in his remarks. In this talk, Iíd like to give you an indication of my priorities and plans for this coming year, both as they relate to these existing initiatives and to new ones.

ASIS&T, or ASIS and T (one priority will be deciding on a common pronunciation) is more than the American Society for Information Science and Technology; it is a truly international society, as we can see from the large number of countries represented at this Annual Meeting. During the coming year, I hope to build on this solid foundation, and to increase ASIS&Tís international presence. Weíll do this with the help of Julian Warner and Michel Menou, our International Liaison to the Board, and SIG/III in three specific ways:

        continue and expand our collaboration with related conferences and organizations outside of North America ;

        support and expand regional chapters throughout the world; and

        identify leaders in our organization in the various countries and regions of the world who will act as information disseminators about and membership recruiters for ASIS&T.

Speaking of membership, I have asked the Membership Committee to develop plans for recruiting new members to the Society from two specific populations: students in the undergraduate programs offered by schools and departments of information science; and graduate students in these schools and departments. Although we already have a healthy representation of the latter in ASIS&T, I believe that we can certainly do even better. As for the former group, I believe they represent an entirely new constituency, which is not well served by organizations such as the ACM or information systems organizations, but for which ASIS&T is a natural home. Making the relevance of ASIS&T clear to students will also require some new incentives. As an initial step in this direction, Iím pleased to announce that we will encourage greater student participation at next yearís Annual Meeting by including a ticket to the Awards Luncheon in the discounted student registration fee.

I wish to concentrate our recruitment efforts on students this year for two reasons. One is that I strongly believe that ASIS&T offers services of great value to these groups, services that many may not yet appreciate, and that it is our responsibility to make these services known to them. The other is that students do not remain students. Their early experiences with ASIS&T will, I believe, encourage them to not only maintain their membership, but to take on the volunteer leadership activities that are necessary for a vital and relevant professional society.

Most of the new services that will be introduced during the coming year are centered around ASIS&Tís really going digital, with our new website and its associated enhanced modes of communication; with the establishment of the ASIS&T digital library; and with the publication of the proceedings of the Annual Meeting in electronic form. My goals in this area are to support the timely implementation of these initiatives and to develop plans for enhancing them in ways that will provide even more benefit to our members and to society at large. Since these efforts have largely to do with access to and dissemination of our publications, I have asked our Publications Task Force, chaired by President-Elect Michael Leach, to develop an integrated publications plan for the society, considering such issues as:

        balance between print and electronic publications;

        publication of the Bulletin solely in electronic form;

        open access publication; and

        collaboration with other organizations and other digital libraries.

Another issue that I will address during the coming year is that of communication between the national leadership and the members at large, and between the national headquarters and the chapters and SIGs. We have had problems in this area in the recent past, primarily due to difficulties with the membership database system. I pledge (thereís an inaugural address word, for sure) to have those difficulties resolved during this year, so that our membership directory and the associated information will be correct and up-to-date. Essential communication between headquarters and the chapters and SIGs has suffered. I will ask the chapters to help us decide what information, in what form and by what mode of delivery is required for effective and efficient operations, and will ask headquarters to implement the appropriate systems. I believe that the new website will also go a long way toward enhancing communication amongst us all, and I will work with the design team to make sure that we take advantage of this opportunity to implement the wishes of the membership in this regard.

As Sam mentioned, weíll also be doing something more about placement. This last year, Abby Goodrum did a wonderful job in getting our online placement service going. This year, weíll put together a more formal placement service at the Annual Meeting, which we hope will help job-seekers and employers to find one another.

There is, of course, plenty of other stuff that I think will need to be done during the coming year, but Iíve already made more than the requisite number of pledges for an inaugural address. Let me finish by saying how humbled I am by this office and by your placing me in it. I hope that you all will be open and proactive in expressing your desires and priorities for ASIS&T, that I will be effective in my response to you and that the priorities that Iíve discussed here today are indeed consonant with your desires and, again, that I will justify your trust.

Thank you.

Nicholas J. Belkin
2005 ASIS&T President
Professor & Chair
Department of Library and Information Science
School of Communication , Information & Library Studies
Rutgers University
4 Huntington Street
New Brunswick , NJ 08901-1071
732-932-7500, ext. 8271  

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