Bulletin, October/November 2006

Inside ASIS&T

Annual Meeting 2006
AM Keynoter Studies the Physics of Online News
Albert-László Barabás, the first of two keynote speakers at the upcoming ASIS&T 2006 Annual Meeting, is a pioneer in the study of the World Wide Web as a complex network of interacting systems. In July, research that he and colleagues from Hungary conducted was the subject of a very engaging article in PhysicsWeb, the online magazine of the Institute of Physics.

To further examine the complexity of the WWW as a complex network, Barabás and his research partners looked into the physics of online news. The researchers developed a model to describe their vision of news sites and the news documents that they post. They then decided to study the visiting patterns of a popular news and entertainment portal to reconstruct the browsing patterns of some quarter of a million visitors over a one-month period.

In a nutshell, the researchers found that the half-life of a news document posted online is very short – on average just 36 hours after it is released. According to the PhysicsWeb article, “The short life of a news item – combined with random visiting patterns of readers – implies that people could miss a significant fraction of news by not visiting the portal when a new document is first displayed, which is why publishers like to provide e-mail news alerts. The results also show that people read a particular Web page not just because it looks interesting but because it can be accessed easily.” The full article can be found at http://physicsweb.org/articles/news/10/7/3/1.

Barabás, the Emil T. Hofman Professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame, will kick off the technical program of the 2006 ASIS&T Annual Meeting with a plenary address at 1:00 p.m., Sunday, November 5. 

Susan Dumais, senior researcher in the adaptive systems and interaction group at Microsoft, will address a plenary crowd at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, November 8. She is widely published in areas of human-computer interaction and information retrieval.
For more details about these speakers and the rest of the technical program, please visit the ASIS&T website at www.asis.org.

ASIS&T Membership Materials Go Multilingual
The ASIS&T Membership Committee, noting that the ASIS&T membership already comprises members from some 50 countries, has made information about the organization just a bit more accessible to information professionals around the world. At the ASIS&T website, people interested in joining ASIS&T or just learning more about the organization can access a two-page information sheet in any of eight languages.

Speaking on behalf of the subcommittee charged with creating these documents, Caryn Anderson, Simmons College, says the downloadable documents are available in Chinese, both Mainland and Taiwan versions; English; French; German; Portuguese; Spanish and Swedish. The documents resulted from the efforts of a variety of members who assisted in coordinating, editing, translating and designing the flyers.

Members of the membership subcommittee are Caryn Anderson, John D’Ignazio, Kris Liberman, Michel Menou, Ruth Vondracek and Amanda Wilson. Translators and reviewers were Nadia Caidi, Sergio Chaparro-Univazo, Mabrouka El Hachani, Miriam Figuiredo Veira da Cunha, Michel Menou, Christian Schlogel, Diane H. Sonnenwald, Imma Subirats Coll, Peishan Tsai Bentley and Yin Zhang. Gerry Benoit received special thanks from the committee for the design and for typesetting mastery in a multitude of languages.

The committee hopes to add additional languages in the future. If you’re interested in providing a translation, please contact Caryn Anderson at icisc<at>asist.org.

The two-page information sheets are available at www.asis.org/infosheets/.

New ASIS&T Officers and Directors to Take Seats
As this issue of the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology goes to press, the deadline is approaching for all voting members of the Society to submit their ballots for the election of new officers and directors.

Running for the presidency of ASIS&T, to take office in November as president-elect, are Abby Goodrum and Nancy Roderer. Four candidates are vying for two available seats as directors-at-large: Andrew Grove; Sue O’Neill Johnson; Katherine McCain; and Julian Warner. The three-year terms of the two candidates with the largest number of votes will also begin at the conclusion of the upcoming ASIS&T Annual Meeting.

Roderer is an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, where she serves as director of both the Welch Medical Library and the Division of Health Sciences Informatics. She has previously worked in medical librarianship and informatics at Columbia University, Yale University and the National Library of Medicine, as well as serving as an information services consultant. She is a longtime, active member of ASIS&T, beginning with her election as secretary of the then-new SIG/FIS at her first annual meeting. Highlights of her ASIS&T involvement include service as a board member, conference chair and recipient of the Watson Davis Award. 

Goodrum holds the Rogers Chair for news media and technology and is associate professor in the Faculty of Communication & Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. She is also cross-appointed to the joint graduate program in communication and culture at York University. Prior to joining Ryerson, she was an assistant professor in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University and served as interim director of the LIS program there from 2002-2003. An active ASIS&T member since 1991, she has served on the Board of Directors, SIG Cabinet Steering Committee and SIG Advisory Board, the Leadership Development Committee, Continuing Education Committee and numerous awards juries. 

Grove is a program manager at Microsoft, where he develops, manages and delivers terminology and taxonomy solutions to internal systems and tools for information access and retrieval. He joined ASIS&T in 1994 and has served the Society on awards juries and review committees; the Constitution and Bylaws Committee; as an officer in the ASIS&T Pacific Northwest Chapter; and on annual meeting program committees and review panels and has edited proceedings of the Annual Meetings.

Johnson is retired as senior information projects officer in the World Bank. She is currently a consultant in the international health information field. She has been a member of ASIS&T since 1984. She has served in numerous SIG and chapter positions. She is co-founder of the SIG/III International Paper Contest and co-chair of the SIG/III InfoShare program. 

McCain is professor and associate dean at the College of Information Science and Technology at Drexel University. She has had a long involvement with ASIS&T with many efforts on behalf of several SIGs. She has also served on and chaired awards juries; Annual Meeting program committees; technical program proposal review committees; and is a member of the editorial board of JASIST

Warner is a faculty member in information science at the Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he teaches courses in the human aspects of modern information and communication technologies and in information policy. He has been a member of ASIS&T since 1991, and he has served as chair of chapters, committees and SIGs and on awards juries and editorial boards of ASIS&T publications. 

News about ASIS&T Chapters
The Los Angeles Chapter of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (LACASIS) scheduled Podcasting: From Virtual Instruction to Podcasting Studio as its annual summer professional development program in mid-July. Rachael Clemens of California State University at Fullerton was to demonstrate the technology requirements and time investments of creating both an audio-only and video enhanced podcast. Karen Howell of University of Southern California was to describe a pilot project in which an in-library podcasting studio has been built for students to create podcasts for their course assignments. 

The New England Chapter of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (NEASIS&T) will feature The Dawn of the Embedded Library: Integrating Library Services into People's Trusted Networks as its October membership meeting. Nicole Hennig, web manager and usability specialist at the MIT Libraries; Annette Bailey and Godmar Back, creators of the LibX Firefox toolbar extension; and Tim Spalding and Abigail Blachly of Library Thing will discuss innovation in library services. The five speakers will focus on examples of how and why libraries need to think beyond marketing and advocacy to a new level of findability, usability and service – to a future of full integration of the library into users’ daily Web practices.

News from an ASIS&T SIG
SIG/International Information Issues (SIG/III) plans an early October fundraising effort to support its International Paper Contest. The fundraiser will be held on the grounds of the Kenya Embassy in Washington, DC, and will feature food, fun and fellowship. 

News about ASIS&T Members
George Lindell Abbott, ASIS&T Watson George Lindell Abbott Davis Award winner and former ASIS&T treasurer, was granted librarian emeritus status at Syracuse University at the May 2006 commencement ceremonies. Abbott retired from his university position in October 2005 after more than four decades in the university library. He began his Syracuse University service as a clerk/typist in the cataloging department in 1964. By 1970 he was head of the media services area which he continued to lead through years of technological and material growth. Abbott plans to continue his active involvement in professional associations.
(Photo credit: SU Photo Center)

Amanda Spink and colleagues Peter Bruza and Michael Rosemann, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Faculty of Information Technology, have received an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant and SAP industry funding of $498,920 for the project Service Ecosystems Management for Collaboration Process Improvement. The project will design and evaluate innovative service lifecycle management methods and information ecosystems that promote Web-based collaboration and service/information sharing across organizations. 

The School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill launched its yearlong 75th anniversary celebration in September under the theme, Illuminating the Past, Imagining the Future. The first event featured Deanna Marcum, Library of Congress; Michael Ruettgers, senior advisor and retired chair, EMC2 Corporation; and Robert Martin, Texas Women's University School of Library and Information Science.

Franciel Azpurua-Linares is the head of a Franciel Azpurua-Linares new Web development and technology services group at Information International Associates in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She and the group will provide IT infrastructure support for organizations of all sizes. Azpurua-Linares has experience with cutting edge information and Web technologies, including portal technologies, programming languages, and systems design and implementation.

Frederick G. Kilgour (1914-2006)

Frederick G. Kilgour, a librarian and educator who created an international computer library network and database that changed the way people use libraries, died on July 31, 2006. He was 92 years old and had lived since 1990 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Kilgour is widely recognized as one of the leading figures in 20th-century librarianship for using computer networks to increase access to information in libraries around the world. He was among the earliest proponents of adapting computer technology to library processes. At the dawn of library automation in the early 1970s, he founded OCLC Online Computer Library Center and led the creation of a library network that today links 55,000 institutions in 110 countries.

In 1979, ASIS&T honored Kilgour with its Award of Merit. The citation read as follows: 

Presented to Frederick G. Kilgour, in recognition of his leadership in the field of library automation. As Executive Director of OCLC since 1967, he has succeeded in changing the conception of what is feasible in library automation and library networking. His major technological developments, superb planning and executive abilities, deep insight into bibliographic and information needs, and unfaltering leadership have transformed a state association of libraries into a national interlibrary bibliographic utility.

Augustin Merta (1914-2006)
Augustin Merta Augustin Merta, a co-founder of modern information and library science in the former Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia) died of a heart attack on June 22, 2006, at the age of 92.

Merta’s life is part of our heritage from the “lost generation,” the generation who lived through two world wars and, in Merta's case, also the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. He did not have a simple life and overcame many constraints. 

Born in 1914 near the city Ostrava in a miner’s family, he started his professional career as an elementary school teacher in Slovakia and Moravia (1932-1942). He spent 1937-1939 in military service, but beginning in 1939 he participated in the underground resistance after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. In 1942 he escaped the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia through the Austrian Alps, Lichtenstein and Switzerland to France and over the Pyrenees to Spain. He was taken prisoner a few times, but luckily he found his way through Gibraltar to the United Kingdom. In World War II he was a tanker in the Czechoslovak Foreign Army and fought in Europe, including at the Battle of Dunkerque in 1944. 

After the war and his university degree, Merta worked in documentation and patent centers of Czechoslovak industrial companies. He began university teaching during the 1950s. During the 1960s he conducted information services research at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences and other institutions. At the end of the 1960s he was head of research in information science at the Center of Scientific, Technical and Economical Information (of Czechoslovakia). He published many articles and studies based on his theoretical and practical outputs and those of his teams. In the 1970s he retired (as a military veteran), but he continued his professional activities, including teaching at Charles University in Prague. After 1989 he was a very strong influence in shaping a new orientation of Czechoslovak information and library science to follow modern trends. 

Merta was also a proactive player at the international level. Long prominent in the International Federation for Information and Documentation (FID), he was especially active in its committees on the theoretical basis of information (FID/RI) and education and training. A quote from his 1969 paper “Informatics as a branch of science” (in On theoretical problems of informatics, Mikhailov, etal) illustrates his vision, still enlightening today: 

The majority of authors determine informatics as a theoretical and practical branch of activities dealing with “collection, processing, and dissemination of information, or rather information sources.” I think that such a definition is too narrow. It doesn't include considerable parts of the information process, first of all, the act of the origination of information, both factual and descriptive, as well as patterns, means and effectivity of information movement between the creator and the user. 

He was not only an inspirational grand old man, but he was also a heroic man and a very good man with natural humility. 

– Richard Papik, Charles University, Prague, and Michel Menou, consultant in ICT policies