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Bulletin, April/May 2010


Mentoring, Energy and Passion: Key Leadership Ingredients for ASIS&T

by Cassidy R. Sugimoto

It was my great honor to receive the 2009 James M. Cretsos Leadership Award. I did not have the fortune of meeting Mr. Cretsos, but many of the ASIS&T members he mentored have told me of the generosity and passion with which Jim participated in ASIS&T. Grateful for the mentoring Jim provided, these members have in turn mentored younger members of the Society. I believe these mentoring chains serve a critical function within the Society, and I am particularly grateful for all those who had mentored me. 

Perhaps my most important mentor was the one who first brought me to ASIS&T, Barbara Wildemuth. Barbara approached me one day when I was a master’s student at UNC and asked me if I were a member of ASIS&T. Within five minutes, not only had I agreed to join ASIS&T, but I had also agreed to attend the upcoming Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting proceeded in similar fashion – within 24 hours after arriving at the meeting I found myself a member of the membership committee and in charge of various subcommittees and programming tasks. 

I brought the energy of the Annual Meeting back home with me and began working with other ASIS&T members to start a regional chapter for North and South Carolina so that we could keep the momentum going. Once established, I found that the chapter was able to do two things: it kept the local ASIS&T community engaged in a dialogue throughout the year, and it allowed us to promote ASIS&T to other information professionals in the area. These two things are goals to which I believe all ASIS&T initiatives should aspire.

As the new chair of SIG/ED, I hope to find ways in which the SIG can also perform these functions. SIGs do an outstanding job of bringing together the subcultures of ASIS&T and putting together fabulous programming for the Annual Meeting. However, I believe they can do more in terms of engaging members throughout the year and promoting ASIS&T to the larger community.

A professional organization is able to provide direct value to its members through networking and knowledge exchange activities. However, as Cretsos wrote [1], membership in a professional society also carries with it a “professional responsibility” to engage as members of this profession and this Society. President of ASIS&T, Gary Marchionini, issued a “participation challenge” to the members of ASIS&T in which he asked members to “think and act beyond local and annual meetings… [reach] out to help inform and educate the populace about the principles and practices of information science… [recruit] and [mentor] new information professionals and [accept] leadership positions that give back to our Society and the field” [2]. 

One of the things I love most about ASIS&T is how easy it is to get involved and take action. During my time in ASIS&T, I have found very little trouble in beginning new initiatives. I have found the members eager and willing to try new things, to take a chance, to improvise. People have heartily encouraged and supported me in all of my endeavors, and I think this is what makes ASIS&T great. ASIS&T is ready to support any member who chooses to be a leader, in ways both small and large. A society that is led by all of its members, rather than a few, will be dynamic, flexible and lasting. In ASIS&T, everyone can be a leader – a little bit of energy and passion can go a long way here.

[1] Cretsos, J.M. (1976). Scientific freedom and responsibility. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 27(4), 211-212.
 
[2] Marchionini, G. (2009). Marchionini Participation Challenge. Bits [ASIS&T blog]. Retrieved January 18, 2010, from www.asis.org/wiki/bits/?paged=2.


Cassidy R. Sugimoto is an assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Science, University of Indiana, Bloomington. She can be reached by email at sugimoto<at>Indiana.edu