As Association president, Harry Bruce attended a meeting of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) where, despite varied focus areas, the shared goals and challenges of participating research organizations became evident. These association leaders are concerned about member satisfaction and engagement and making the most of online technologies for member support. ASIS&Tís name change to reflect its international membership caught the attention of many. ASIS&T continues service to the membership by gathering data on member attitudes to better understand the perceived value of membership. To promote engagement and conversation the Association is also pursuing a social media initiative and website overhaul. The CSSP meeting was a reminder of the central role of information science linking scientific disciplines and the support of the professional societies. In closing, Bruce notes the passing of Professor Eliza Dresang, colleague, scholar and professor at the University of Washington iSchool.
Association for Information Science and Technology
Bulletin, June/July 2014
2014 ASIS&T President
Dean and Professor
The Information School
University of Washington
I have just returned from a meeting of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) in Washington, DC. CSSP is an association of science leaders from disciplinary research associations encompassing over 1.25 million researchers in over 150 disciplines. The disciplines represented are very diverse, including American Nuclear Society, American Chemical Society, American Psychological Society, American Institute of Physics, Association for Computing Machinery, Geological Society of America and American Association of Physical Anthropologists, just to name a few.
Participants at the conference were treated to several stimulating presentations by scientists who focus upon energy, water, the human genome and the global economy. There were very informative presentations on STEM education and how associations can work more effectively with congressional leaders. We also had the opportunity to attend smaller group discussions on a range of topics including diversity and the challenges facing modern scientific associations. I was intrigued by the similarity of the challenges that face such a broad and diverse range of scientific associations. It seems that we, as scientific association presidents, are all concerned about the engagement and satisfaction of our members. Most associations are mindful of the need to better leverage online technologies to connect with members and to increase the opportunities for all members to engage more fruitfully with the various services and benefits of association membership. Many of the presidents attending the conference were leaders of associations that continue to specify that they are American by name and yet their membership was beginning to reflect a more international community of scholars and researchers. I was able to share our story of changing our name from the American Society for Information Science and Technology to the Association for Information Science and Technology. A number of scientific associations may follow our lead on this.
We are, of course, working on other challenges that are common to our scientific association colleagues. We are working to gather data on the value that members receive from ASIS&T and additionally the benefits that they would hope to receive. Our membership committee is currently conducting short interviews with a sample of members to ask what value they receive from ASIS&T membership. Members of this committee are also contacting people who have let their memberships drop. It will be important to know why this decision was made and also to understand what might convince a lapsed member to re-join our association. If a member of the membership committee contacts you, please share your views. If you are not contacted but want to participate, please get in touch with Bill Edgar or Heather Pfeiffer.
In terms of increasing the level of engagement of our membership, we are also about to launch a social media initiative, and we will soon be assessing proposals from individuals and companies interested in developing and updating the ASIS&T website. We have invited a number of selected individuals to activate our social media presence and to stimulate discussion across these media. We hope that both initiatives will facilitate increased engagement by our members and the opportunity to participate in stimulating discussion of topics central to our mission.
As I listened to the presentations at CSSP, I was struck again by the importance of information science serving as a metadiscipline that connects the work of other scientific disciplines, fields and subfields. Challenging issues of energy, water, the human genome, the global economy and more will undoubtedly be addressed by a collaboration of disciplines and areas of expertise. The glue that binds these collaborations and makes these partnerships greater than the sum of their individual parts is information science.
Since my last column, my school (the UW iSchool) experienced the loss of a beloved and admired colleague. At every Annual Meeting, we announce the loss of practitioners and scholars in our discipline. The loss of my colleague Professor Eliza Dresang has once again brought into sharp focus for me the impact that information scientists and information professionals have upon our world and our communities. Dr. Dresang was an eminent scholar in the field of children and youth services. She worked directly with children with the aim of making the world a better place. She also worked directly with librarians and information specialists providing services to children. I have in the past weeks received messages from scholars and practitioners from around the world. Their kind words reinforce for me the great privilege we all have to serve our intellectual and professional communities and the impact that information scholars and professionals can have on the world.
So, please keep doing your important work and know that your association, ASIS&T, is here to support you and to promote the activities of information scholars and professionals around the world.
Best wishes for the summer.
ASIS&T president Harry Bruce, front row, second from left, at 2014 meeting of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents
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