of The American Society for Information Science

Vol. 26, No. 4

April/May 2000

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Dr. Eugene Garfield, ASIS President
The President's Page

by Eugene Garfield, President, American Society for Information Science

My inaugural address , carried in the December/January 2000 Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, covered critical issues for ASIS: membership, meetings, JASIS, ARIST, the proposed name change and finances. In this column, I would like to report our progress on these issues as of mid-February.

Membership

Since October 1, the start of the society's fiscal year, membership has grown by 67 members - about 2%. At about the same time, last year we had a decline of 4%. Of these new members, 48 came in during the Annual Meeting in November. It remains to be seen how many stay with us. However, new members are continuing to come in. If one compares the period October-January, 1999 vs. October-January, 2000, the number of new regular members joining increased over this period by 75% and the number of student members by 83%. Hopefully, the negative long-standing trend will be reversed by the various actions we have taken in 1999 and have set in motion for 2000. To be more concrete, our net individual membership in January 1999 was 3,034 whereas in January 2000 it was 3,101.

Meetings

This year we have radically altered the nature of our Mid-Year Meeting and all that implied in governance activities. "Defining Information Architecture," April 7-9, 2000, in Boston, (http://www.asis.org/Conferences/Summit2000/index.html), is an institute, not a Mid-Year Meeting. It will last only one and a half days at a new airport facility. The target audience consists of information professionals and others heavily involved in practicing and implementing information architecture. This meeting inaugurates a new model for ASIS. If it proves to be a success, we will organize similar topical meetings at various times and locations. These topical meetings will stand in contrast to the Annual Meeting, the format of which we are not changing. We expect our next national meeting in Chicago to be equally as successful as the last one.

JASIS and Wiley

Shortly before the Annual Meeting we executed an agreement with publisher John Wiley that revised the contract signed in 1977 for the publication of JASIS. Starting in March members will have the choice of print copy, electronic access or both with a small additional charge. The ASIS Board decided that student membership would include only electronic access, which includes full-text access back to 1984. Students who choose print will incur a small additional charge. Regular members can choose either the print or electronic option, with a small added charge for receiving both.

It is widely believed that electronic access will be the preference of most since it provides a search engine for 17 years of JASIS. Its value will be enhanced when Wiley provides hyperlinks to other publishers. They have joined a non-profit linking consortium.

JASIS is already a healthy, thriving publication, with submissions up around 30% in the last year alone. Access to JASIS in electronic form, with citation links to other journals and abstracting services, will make JASIS an even better and more useful research tool.

ARIST

Some time ago Martha Williams requested that ASIS find a new editor for the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology (ARIST). Martha has done an exemplary job for 25 years for which she has our deep gratitude and respect. Maintaining the diversity, breadth and high quality of ARIST is a major contribution to the image of our society. An ASIS Board subcommittee, composed of Michael Buckland, Pat Molholt and Gary Marchionini, began a search for her replacement last summer. We are pleased to announce that Blaise Cronin and Debora Shaw of Indiana University have agreed to serve as editor and associate editor, respectively. This great team will insure that Martha's legacy of excellence is continued.

Name Change

My proposal to change the name of ASIS to ASIS&T was posted to the ASIS website early last year prior to my inaugural address (www.garfield.library.upenn.edu/asist.html). In order to broaden the ASIS membership, I recommended that we revisit the question of changing our name to the American Society for Information Science and Technology. I believe, as do the majority of ASIS members, that making the connection of information science and technology explicit, combined with new services and new approaches, will enable ASIS&T to grow and prosper in the coming years. It would be ego-gratifying to claim this one-year discussion on the listserv and at meetings led to the reversal in our membership decline, but proving such a connection would be difficult. Nevertheless, this is still an unaccomplished goal.

In February, you received a ballot on the proposal to change ASIS to ASIS&T. I will not attempt to summarize the arguments for and against the name change. They have been discussed in the Bulletin, debated on the ASIS Listserv and at the recent Mid-Year and Annual Meetings.

The ballot also covers another important issue. At present, 75% of those voting must approve any change to the ASIS Constitution. The ASIS Board unanimously believes that 75% is an unrealistically high hurdle for any proposal to pass and prevents even a clear majority from exercising its rights. Whether or not you agree to the name change, I urge you to give ASIS the flexibility it needs in the future by lowering the threshold for approval of any change in the constitution from 75% to 66%.

Finances and HQ Management

Thanks to a successful Annual Meeting, ASIS generated a profit of about $75,000. However, at our last Mid-Year Meeting in Pasadena, we lost $45,000. These figures each include about $45,000 in salary allocations. During 1999, headquarters staff was reduced which resulted in a savings of about $80,000 per year. Of equal importance in the financial area is the change in our expected income from JASIS . With the change to a 20% royalty, we will expect about $120,000 for 2000, payable in early 2001. This is based on the assumption that 550 library subscribers will renew.

Our Institutional Membership has remained essentially the same but we expect to emphasize recruitment of new corporate and university institutional members. In addition, a large number of academic library subscribers were lost in the years during which subscription rates increased inordinately. So it is in everyone's best interests that we try to recruit many of those institutions and then eventually convert them back to full customers with site licenses.

In order to reduce expenses for rent, office expenses, promotion, etc., the Board decided to send out an RFP to a group of qualified association management firms. Pat Molholt and I worked with Dick Hill to create the RFP which has now been sent to a group of such firms. We are still in the preliminary stages of evaluating their responses.

I expect to be devoting a considerable amount of my time in 2000 on the key issue of membership. Hopefully, the new co-chairs of the Membership Committee will not only help us maintain our membership but also look for new recruitment opportunities. This can be helped by expanding the scope of SIG activities. In that connection, Mike Stallings and Samantha Hastings have worked hard on recommendations for new SIG structures.

I have already visited several chapters to discuss these issues. I'll be glad to visit your chapter at a mutually convenient date.


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@ 2000, American Society for Information Science