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Bulletin, October/November 2008

ASIS&T President, Nancy RodererPresident's Page

Nancy Roderer
2008 ASIS&T President

The column that I am now writing is one that you will at best read 50 days from now. During this year of writing presidential columns, I have not yet embarked on one without being distracted by thoughts about the relative speeds of informal and formal communication today.

Comments on the Open Access survey draft article for this same issue, news of my elderly mother’s hospitalization, word that a new employee has accepted an offer… these informal communications can occur within seconds or minutes. It is now routine for me to be in a meeting or on the phone and have documents or other information that is being discussed delivered to me electronically. This rapid communication is dramatically changing the pace of life. 

By contrast, there have been less significant changes in formal publication through books and journals. While automation has brought some reductions in the amount of time between creation of a book or journal article and its availability for reading, there is still a considerable gap of weeks to months to years. So my musings have to do with questions such as:

  • Have or will some intermediate forms of communication evolve?
  • Will formal publication move to more rapid delivery?
  • Will there be increasing pushback (such as no-computer days) against the rapid communication possible?

Or, to sum up, where is this all going? This disparity is one of a number of issues that I look forward to considering at our upcoming Annual Meeting, which, as always, is packed full of informative and thought-provoking sessions. 

But I should also report on progress made by the ASIS&T leadership since my last column. Again, we have been busy. Highlights include the signing of a new contract for publication of the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST) and a Board retreat. 

Our new publication contract to publish JASIST and host the ASIS&T Digital Library is with Wiley- Blackwell. This agreement is the culmination of a long and quite rigorous process of soliciting and considering bids to publish JASIST, carried out by a very diligent task force working closely with headquarters and the board. Noteworthy about the new arrangement:

  • It will run until 1215, giving us more flexibility than our previous contracts, which were for longer periods. Since Wiley-Blackwell is the current contractor, they have agreed to make the new terms active immediately, rather than in 2110, which would otherwise have been the start date. 
  • It provides a significantly higher return to the ASIS&T coffers.
  • It continues our open access policy (Romeo green), adopted on a trial basis last year.
  • It includes significant further development of the ASIS&T Digital Library.
  • It includes a new level of collaborative planning with Wiley-Blackwell.

We have a long history with Wiley. Our current contract goes back to 1997. Since Wiley’s recent acquisition of Blackwell, we have simultaneously had the advantages of the old relationship with Wiley and of Blackwell’s much more extensive experience in cooperative publishing with professional societies such as ASIS&T. The new contract is very good news for ASIS&T. We are well positioned with the Journal as the publishing environment continues to change. 

With this new contract determined, the Board was able to think quite expansively about both the long and short-term future of our Society when we met for our annual retreat in July. In a wide ranging discussion, we surveyed trends in professional societies in general and in ASIS&T in particular and worked to identify next steps in making ASIS&T ever more relevant within the information professions. 

A recognized trend in professional societies is decreasing levels of interest in participation coupled with increasing demand for society services. Thus, while we certainly talked about how we could expand our membership base, the retreat focused more on how we can provide relevant services to an increasing number of information professionals. We are particularly interested in services provided to the international community, building on the ongoing efforts of the International Relations Committee to develop a global alliance. 

We discussed our substantial menu of services: the annual meetings and summits; our family of publications including JASIST, the Bulletin, ARIST and monographs; our website and digital library; the chapters and SIGs; our placement and leadership development services and our promotion of the profession. Action items identified included:

  • A reduction in meeting costs for non-North American attendees at the Annual Meeting
  • One year’s free membership to those who register as non-members at society meetings
  • Decisions to embark on a Second Life project and to hire an online ASIS&T editor
  • Plans to develop task forces to thoroughly consider both chapter structure and activity and meeting structure and activity. 

You will be hearing more about these issues in Columbus, and I hope that each of you will meanwhile be thinking about how you can help. See you in Ohio.