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ASIS&T Membership Survey Results

In 2019 the ASIST membership committee conducted a survey of members to determine how members feel about their membership experience and gather recommendations for future directions. The member survey has been used to inform Board decision making as well as the strategic planning process. Responses were received from 346 members.

The tenure of respondents was as follows:

Tenure Number Percent
less than 1 year 14 4.05%
1-5 years 128 36.99%
6-10 years 60 17.34%
11-15 years 35 10.12%
16-20 years 34 9.83%
21+ years 75 21.68%


The membership category of respondents was as follows:

Category Number Percent
professional 242 69.94%
transitional professional (within 2 years of graduation) 27 7.80%
student 44 12.72%
retired 33 9.54%


The geographic distribution of respondents was as follows:

Country Number Percent
United States 220 63.95%
Canada 25 7.27%
Australia 9 2.62%
Germany 9 2.62%
United Kingdom 9 2.62%
Croatia 7 2.03%
Japan 5 1.45%
Pakistan 5 1.45%
Bangladesh 4 1.16%
Singapore 4 1.16%
Sweden 4 1.16%
Brazil 3 0.87%
France 3 0.87%
Switzerland 3 0.87%
Turkey 3 0.87%
China 2 0.58%
India 2 0.58%
Kenya 2 0.58%
Nigeria 2 0.58%
Philippines 2 0.58%
Romania 2 0.58%
South Africa 2 0.58%
Austria 1 0.29%
Belgium 1 0.29%
Denmark 1 0.29%
Egypt 1 0.29%
Indonesia 1 0.29%
Italy 1 0.29%
Jamaica 1 0.29%
Mexico 1 0.29%
New Zealand 1 0.29%
Norway 1 0.29%
Poland 1 0.29%
Qatar 1 0.29%
Spain 1 0.29%
Taiwan 1 0.29%
Thailand 1 0.29%
Uruguay 1 0.29%
Other 1 0.29%


The primary job functions of respondents was as follows:

Primary Job Function(s) Number Percent
academic (primarily teaching) 34 9.94%
academic (primarily research) 35 10.23%
academic (balanced teaching & research 132 38.60%
academic administrator 41 11.99%
student (PhD) 33 9.65%
student (masters) 10 2.92%
student (undergraduate) 1 0.29%
retired 33 9.65%
Information Professional 112 32.75%

Results: About Your Membership

What are the primary benefits you receive from being a member of ASIST? (check all that apply)

Three primary benefits stand out in participants’ responses. All three received over 50%

  • Learning about new developments/issues in the field
  • Networking
  • Gaining sense of professional community (belonging)

Interestingly, no. 1 benefit (Learning about new developments/issues in the field) focuses on the intellectual dimension and the two other primary benefits (Networking and Gaining sense of professional community) refer to the social aspects of belonging to the association. “Gaining jobs, career advancement or recognition” is the least recognizable benefit.

In the comments for “Other” benefits category, the dominant theme is access to JASIST, and then webinars.

What factors do you assess in determining whether or not to renew your membership?

Respondents tended to fall into two categories:

  • ‘Die-hard’ members: Have been associated with ASIST for a long time and either renew unquestioningly or feel it is their professional responsibility to maintain membership.
  • ‘Waverers’: Decision to renew their membership or not is driven by:
    • Cost of membership: Rising costs of membership or annual meeting; factors outside of ASIST’s control, eg changeable employer contributions or fluctuating exchange rate; existence of retiree membership rate.
    • Involvement opportunities: Involvement in the organization and ability to build community persuade people to maintain membership. Conversely, perceived difficulty of becoming involved in ASIST is causing many people to question their membership (e.g. few regional activities or volunteer opportunities).
    • Organizational direction: Perceived direction that ASIST was taking- directions that were listed as off-putting were the quantitative bias of ASIST, a lack of transparency and disconnect between board/president and members.
    • Benefits of membership: Quality of webinars and JASIST.

How do you define value for cost?

Responses tended to fall into the following groupings:

  • Resources provided: access to webinars and educational opportunities, access to JASIST and the digital library, and access to the annual conference (in terms of cost and location).
  • Networking: Access to colleagues in the field (communication, social networks, etc.) for professional development and career progression.
  • Opportunities to participate: The opportunity to engage with the organization and contribute to the field - this was the area where members expressed the most dissatisfaction with the current structure.
  • Subject interest: Quality and breadth of ideas that were circulated through ASIST through annual meetings as well as formal and informal communications.

Professional Challenges

What is/are your greatest professional challenges?

This question received over 150 responses and broke down into five main themes. ASIST member’s challenges are Professional Development, ASIST, Community Development, Finances within their Job, Finding a Job and Research Support.

  • Professional Development
    • Members are interested in staying up to date with technology, research and information trends.
    • Looking for leadership in showing the future and building information science conversations
    • Looking for emerging topics and skills
    • Enhancing the field with new and innovative ideas
    • Cost to attend annual meeting
    • Cost of membership (no tiers)
    • Disconnect between JASIST and members - some feel it’s more geared towards IS and not libraries, while others who are in usability and design feel they can’t use JASIST
    • Strong frustration with iConnect-- login issues/feeling closed/not connected
    • More individual support for chapters, SIGs or smaller international areas
  • Community Development
    • Members are interested in developing peer and research communities
    • Member would like to find international peers and research communities
    • Members would like to find ways to stay connected throughout the year
    • Members would like to feel valued within their communities
  • Finances within their Job
    • Members are challenged by finding research funding
    • Members seek to find time and money for conferences
    • Members can be challenged to find monetary support for professional development
  • Finding a Job
    • Members are challenged by the job search
    • Challenged by getting tenure
  • Research Support
    • Finding time for research
    • Balancing research/practice
    • Knowing where/how to publish

Potential New Membership Offerings

If we introduced new publications/communications vehicles, which of the following would be of interest to you?

  • 72% the survey members showed interest in annual review/topical overview (similar to ARIST) while 57% showed interest in an ASIST Blog on topics in information science by thought leaders.
Publication Number Percent
annual review / topical overview (similar to ARIST - Published 1966-2011) 111 71.61%
information science practitioner-focused publication (please share ideas in the comment box below) 67 43.23%
a monograph series 54 34.84%
lay summaries of JASIST articles 50 32.26%
a blog on topics in information science by thought leaders 87 56.13%
podcasts 47 30.32%
videos on information science as a profession 47 30.32%
Other (please specify or share thoughts on any of the above) 37 23.87%

What would make the ASIST Annual Meeting more appealing to you?

The highest responses had to do with cost. Conference registration needs to less expensive as well as the conference hotels. About 50% of our membership agreed on the cost factor. Members also would like the conference close to them, but since our membership is spread out, it’s hard to pinpoint a central location.

ASIST Members from all lengths wanted:

  • More networking opportunities
  • More opportunities to deliver papers and presentations

In addition, Members with 10-20 years wanted:

  • Higher quality educational sessions

Members with 20+ years wanted:

  • Better/more exhibits
  • More papers and presentations
  • Change in focus to more applied topics

What topics or speakers would you like to see featured in future ASIST webinars?

Responses are into general categories for things mentioned more than once. There were 19 “other” suggestions that were only mentioned once. The most common webinar requests were for topics relating to research and managing research data, artificial intelligence, data (big and otherwise), and ethics. Requests relating to technology were also common, with indications that members would like to see more technical topics and would like to hear about new tools, methods, and applications in the field and how they are being applied in the real world. There was positive response to SIG-sponsored webinars in particular, seen as being high quality. One interesting suggestion was to take presentations from the annual meeting and present them again as webinars.

  • Research data management (2), research valuation metrics, deep dives into different research methods, qualitative health focused research, research performance and evaluation, research methods/research challenges, "ICT for development" research, (data focused retrieval models)
  • Big data topics, data, data science (2), data analytics, big data and libraries, data science, data science applications in libraries, Topics about data analytics, the emerging role of data science as it pertains to information science, code and data sharing, Wikidata
  • AI (3), AI and info science, AI topics, AI in libraries, use of AI, (auto classification)

Ethics (2), Ethical issues in international programs, ethics for non-librarian information professionals, data ethics, algorithmic bias, More about ethics and technology

  • Scholarly communication (3)
  • Information behavior, emotion in information behavior, new approaches in information behavior, topics on information behavior
  • Retrieval, data-focused retrieval models, information retrieval (2)
  • Specific Names: Lynn Connaway, Ina Fourie, Heidi Julien, Reijo Savolainen, Elaine Toms, Pamela McKenzie, Jevin West, Joe Jaynes, Marcia Bates, Zeynep Tufekci, Sanda Erdelez, Tom Wilson
  • Information organization (taxonomies, ontologies, etc.), taxonomy, ontology, applied knowledge organization topics,
  • Blockchain (3), Blockchain technology in libraries
  • Equity, diversity, & inclusion topics; Race, gender and IT; cultural competence; new social challenges and new opportunities for inclusion through education
  • Updates on technology as applied to information systems and services, software overviews, new technologies, New undergrad technology proficiency, technology transfer, tech advice open forum, Intro to Programming, more technical topics
  • Privacy (3), practical measures for protecting online privacy, Online Identity management
  • Anything on teaching (online or onsite); how to bring Universal Design into online teaching, learning, learning analytics, Instructional design
  • Future and trends of libraries and librarianship, looking toward the future, future of the field, New Trends in Information Science, emerging trends, new approaches in publishing
  • Fake news, misinformation, fake news (but fake news in some other context than politics)
  • Accessibility, UX research, assistant technology landscape, (how to bring Universal Design into online teaching)
  • Archival topics, digital archives, government records, digital preservation, community archives
  • Linked open data, semantic web, open links
  • Library history, history of the field, historical perspective, philosophy
  • Bibliometrics (2), altmetrics, (free or inexpensive repository database with altmetrics capabilities?)
  • Metadata (2)
  • Open access publishing (2)
  • Knowledge management, More practical application of knowledge management
  • Focus on free apps that are useful, free or inexpensive repository database with altmetrics capabilities?
  • Risk analysis, Big deals and business models, communicating value to your organization
  • Legal constructs w/ data licensing, intellectual property
  • Recent graduates or soon to be graduates talking about their experiences, Publishing advice workshop for junior faculty who are on the tenure track, general meetings with people in different types of jobs to learn about the different roles and opportunities
  • Information avoidance (2)

What types of events would you like ASIST to host in the future?

The trend in the comments is that members want to see more in-depth topics presented, more focus on both technology and applications, information architecture, and topics relevant to practitioners. The biggest request is to be able to attend the annual meeting and regional meetings remotely. ASIS&T is behind the times in not allowing this option. The negative comments were also critical of the ASIS&T’s lack of technological acumen, including the use of clunky webinar software.

POSITIVES – would like to see …

  • The ability to attend the annual meeting and regional meetings REMOTELY
  • Fellowships for work, study, research at any career
  • Specialized meetings, not more general stuff (2), let SIGS coordinate these. Want more advanced topics, mastery, depth, and expert opinion
  • Bring back our connection to information architecture/architects (2)
  • More regional events
  • More events outside the US
  • If events outside the US like Australia, offer rump meeting in North America
  • More events geared toward practitioners, not researchers
  • Scheduled chat forum w/ASIS&T staff in order to get timely answers to questions
  • Discussion groups of classic papers, scholars, and research programs
  • Discussion of publication and scholarly communication opportunities and associated issues
  • Two-stage conference review process
  • Partnerships with open universities.
  • Master classes
  • Opportunities for interdisciplinary cross-pollination, such as diverse practitioners focusing on a shared method or topic


  • My company won’t send me to conferences (no support)
  • Miss the industry-focused “or at least technology-focused” meeting that used to be in the spring (2).
  • ASIST gives short shrift to applications, which are basic to research
  • Doesn’t trust calling something master class
  • Don’t want more beginner or intermediate stuff
  • ASIST seems slow to adopt new technologies like remote conference attendance. We need to really think about how to do a smooth virtual meeting. The carbon cost of flying us all around the world to discuss information science seems, frankly, ridiculous at this point in time. We should work hard to have a synchronous online meeting experience.

If ASIST were to hold meetings focused on a single topic or set of topics in information science, around what topic(s) do you think ASIST should host an event?

Here are the suggestions that were mentioned at least five times.

  • AI and machine learning (9)
  • Emerging trends in information technology (8)
  • Big Data/data analysis/data science/big data and its impact (7)
  • Social media and social networking practices (7)
  • Affective aspects of information behavior, information behavior (6)
  • Information security and privacy (6)
  • Information Retrieval (5)
  • Emerging trends and topics in information science research (5) (including application thereof to solve real world problems)

The most common response of all can be generalized as a sense that this would not be of value.

In Lydia Middleton’s next column she will share how the ASIS&T Board and Staff are working to address some of the issues raised in the survey. If you would like a copy of the complete membership survey summary, please contact Lydia Middleton.

Return to Inside ASIS&T February 2020