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Bulletin, October/November 2007

Presidentís Page

ASIS&T President, Edie RasmussenEdie Rasmussen
2007 ASIS&T President
Professor and Director, School of Library, Archival and Information Studies
The University of British Columbia
Suite 301, 6190 Agronomy Road 
Vancouver, British Columbia 
Canada V6T 1Z3

In an earlier column (February/March 2007) I outlined some of the challenges that societies like ASIS&T face in keeping their publication programs topically relevant, current in delivery and financially healthy. The changing nature of electronic access means that we have to provide the degree of freedom of access that our members expect, while maintaining the intellectual and financial integrity of our publications. This year the Board and the Publications Committee have been devoting a lot of time to publication-related issues, and since this is the last Presidentís Page that I will write for you, Iíd like to end my term with an update on this activity.

Several major changes took place this year. With the June/July 2007 issue, the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology became an electronic-only publication. Editor Irene Travis and her team have done a great job of bringing you the Bulletin with a new look: enhanced format, more content, more images and colors, and improved readability. So far the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. However, as Irene notes in her column, the all-electronic Bulletin remains a work-in-progress, so comments and suggestions are welcome. 

JASIST has been available online for some time, but unless you have checked the backfile recently, you may not have noticed how the material available has grown. In April of this year Wiley completed digitization of the journalís backfile, to volume 1 issue 1 of American Documentation, published in 1950 Ė that is 57 years of information science online. No excuse now for not citing that early work in your area! 

While the full run of JASIST is available in electronic form from subscribing libraries and in the ASIS&T Digital Library, as a society publication produced by a commercial publisher JASIST has been slow to develop a policy on open access. That situation is about to change, prompted by a motion from the JASIST Editorial Board. After receiving advice from a task force chaired by Carol Tenopir to consider the implications, the ASIS&T Board recommended that authors be authorized to post their pre- and post-acceptance versions of their papers on their personal and institutional websites. This policy and its implementation are now being negotiated with the publisher and the details will be announced soon. 

An internal change with our JASIST publisher, John Wiley & Sons, has also had an impact on us. In February, Wiley acquired Blackwell Publishing and assigned JASIST to its Blackwell division. While this transfer may seem like just so much corporate restructuring, it has made a difference to us. Blackwell is known as a publisher of society journals, working with over 650 societies and has extensive experience with the non-corporate sector. Their understanding of the Societyís role as a publisher has smoothed our interaction with them. We look forward to working with Blackwell for the remainder of our Wiley contract.

Our current publishing contract with Wiley will end in 2010. Our Publications Committee, chaired by former president Sam Hastings, is actively engaged in a process to identify the publisher who will carry the publication forward to 2017. A Request for Proposal (RFP) was developed by the Publications Committee in conjunction with consultant Morna Conway, who has extensive experience with scholarly society publications. The RFP has been circulated to a number of established and well-regarded publishers (including, of course, the current publisher, Wiley Blackwell), to create a pool of candidates from which to select the publisher to take us through the next decade. We expect to make this decision by early next year. This is an important decision for us since our publishing program contributes a significant percentage of the operating funds of the Society. Weíre fortunate that we have a number of members with substantial expertise in the publishing industry to help us in this important process.

A search for a new editor for JASIST is also on the horizon. Of course a significant indicator of the success of our publications is the quality of the content we as a field produce. With Don Kraft serving as editor since 1985, JASIST has been among the top-ranked journals in its ISI categories. With Donís impending retirement, a new editor is needed. We are no longer asking for a lifetime commitment Ė in common with most of our peer journals, we are introducing a limited term appointment for JASIST editors. The Board has decided on a five-year term, renewable once. A task force has been appointed to develop the selection process, identify and assess candidates, and make a recommendation to the Board in time for the March 2008 Board meeting. 

Initiatives in other areas are underway, which you will be hearing about in the coming months. But this will be my last column as ASIS&T president, as my term comes to an end in October and I slide, gratefully, into the role of past president. Nancy Roderer will take over as president. It has been an exciting year and I have a greater appreciation of what makes a society like ours successful. Iíve benefited from the dedication and hard work of members who serve on the Board and on ASIS&T committees and task forces. My requests for help have been met, more often than not, with a willingness to contribute, for which I am very grateful. Iím also very grateful for the support which I received from our knowledgeable and hard-working executive office, whose day-to-day operations help to channel the volunteer effort from our members. Thank you all for your encouragement and support!