Bulletin, February/March 2006
2006 ASIS&T President
Director, Physics Research Library,
Head of Collection Development, Cabot Science Library,
leach at physics.harvard.edu; mrleach at fas.harvard.edu
Details, details, details.
There are so many details to managing and leading an effective organization,
whether it is a library, a professional society, an academic department or even
a Cub Scout Pack (I have experience in all four). An old cliché states, “The
devil is in the details.” I don’t believe that – rather, “gold is in the
details.” Let me explain with a few examples.
November 30, each ASIS&T member received an email from Dick Hill, executive
director, informing him or her about the new Web-enabled membership database.
You were asked to visit the new ASIS&T website (I hope you have seen this
new site by now), log in and update your member profile, especially two sections
– the Web viewable section and the areas of expertise. Alas, as I’m writing
this (on the winter solstice), few of you have completed this task.
know we are all busy, but we (I and your fellow ASIS&T colleagues) need you
to fill in these two sections of the membership database. The Board of Directors
decided not to make any membership information Web-viewable that was not chosen
by the individual member. We could have gone the other route – making your
directory information viewable and then making you “privatize” this
information after-the-fact. Instead, we are relying on you to choose which
information to make available to your fellow ASIS&T members (remember –
only members who are logged in can view the Web-enabled information; none of the
membership data is publicly viewable).
with this new membership database, we will soon be able to “mine” the
information for a variety of purposes. Chapter and SIG program planners could
look for expert presenters on a given topic for an upcoming event. Standing
committee chairs could locate expertise in a given field for fulfilling a
committee charge. And your Board of Directors and president (that’s me)
frequently need advice on various topics, challenges and issues – this
database will be one source to tap into for such advice (although, not the only
if you change jobs, phone numbers or even email addresses, you are now able to
enter this updated contact information into the membership database yourself,
ensuring timely, accurate information. All of us benefit, including you. So, the
gold is really in the details – the details you provide in the membership
another area where our details could be mined – reporting on our events and
programs, especially at the chapter level. You and your ASIS&T colleagues
spend a great deal of time creating and delivering top-notch programs each year.
We hear about these programs through the various electronic discussion lists and
the respective chapter websites, but once the events have occurred, there is
chapters do a good job of capturing their events – through such means as
newsletters, blogs or photographs. We – not the royal “we,” but, rather,
your national leaders, such as the Board of Directors – would like to see more
of this content mirrored on the ASIS&T website, especially now that we have
a prominent news section on the front page. Let colleagues know what a great
event you had. Send along some pictures and a brief write-up to ASIS&T
headquarters. Send out your “captured event” information (even if it is just
a URL to a website or blog) to Chapter-l, ASIS-l and other relevant lists. For
those folks who couldn’t attend, let them know what they missed! And for those
who did attend, let your publicity cement the memories. “Mine” more gold.
example focuses on personal news. The ASIS&T Bulletin has a section
for members to announce awards received, appointments to prominent
boards/committees, significant new publications and recent job changes. Our new
website also has this capability to publicize personal news. However, both these
forums rely on you to provide the content – to provide the gold. Now, I know
that this can be a difficult action for many of us, because if we do follow
through and pass this news along, it appears as if we are arrogant, perhaps
conceited, or just full of ourselves – a state of being that many (but not
all) of us would avoid.
I would like you to think of this action in a different light – akin to
updating your email address or providing a new phone number in the membership
database. These nuggets of information – your recent award, a job transfer, a
new publication – are pieces of information that can be used by your
colleagues to enhance programs, conduct business and support research, among
other activities. For example, publishing a book is another way of announcing
your expertise in a given topic/discipline. An ASIS&T colleague, who is
planning, say, a chapter event, would note this announcement on the ASIS&T
website and say, “Hey, why don’t we invite so-and-so to present on
such-and-such a topic; she just wrote a book about it.” Here’s another
possibility: Say you receive an award from a division or section of – oh, let
me pick ACM or SLA – and it so happens your Board of Directors is looking for
someone to act as a liaison with that division or section. We now know an
ASIS&T member who is active in and who has close ties with said division or
section. Even more gold.
wrap up by emphasizing the responsibility we all have to fill in the details –
to create the gold – in all levels of our Society. I, as your president, have
this responsibility, and you, as my colleagues and fellow members, also bear
this responsibility. Let’s work together to mine more gold for everyone.
“gold-mining president”) Leach
Articles in this Issue