From Your Executive Director
Greetings from ASIS&T headquarters where we are finally wrapping up the last details of the 2020 Annual Meeting. We were very pleased with the outcome of the meeting, and hope that those of you that were able to attend got a lot out of it. In all, there were more than 600 people registered for the meeting. The sessions were well attended and the feedback we have gotten is quite positive.
But there is no rest for us as it is now time to start working on the 2021 Annual Meeting. We do not yet know in what format we will be able to deliver that meeting. We all hope that we can be face-to-face in Salt Lake City as we had originally planned, but much depends on the course of the pandemic and the extent to which people will be able to gather in person in October of 2021. It is unlikely that we will have a clear idea of the format of that meeting until later in the spring of 2021. Meanwhile, those of you that are interested in presenting at the meeting should proceed on the assumption that you will be able to present, whether it is in person or online. We will make sure that we can accommodate remote attendees and presenters, even if we are in a face-to-face format. So please do not let travel and health considerations keep you from submitting a proposal for the meeting. The call for proposals is now available on our website, and the submission site will open after the holidays.
As I reported at the Business Meeting, ASIS&T is doing quite well overall. We continue to see a dramatic ebb and flow in membership. While membership was up significantly at Annual Meeting is now down significantly. We believe this is largely due to the impact of the pandemic affecting members’ ability to renew. As a reminder, if you are financially impacted by the pandemic and need some additional time to pay your dues, please let us know so that we can make those arrangements.
I announced at the Business Meeting that we will be waiving dues for members from those countries that have the lowest financial capacity as judged by the World Bank. Keep an eye on this space for more news about how that will be rolled out. We need to make some adjustments to our website and membership applications before we can put this change into effect, but I am hopeful that by the time you read the next Inside ASIS&T, this will all be done.
I also announced at the Business Meeting that we will soon be launching a program called the distinguished member program. This program is an opportunity for us to recognize the significant contributions to the association made by members who have long-sustained membership, significant volunteer contributions, and other contributions to the profession through scholarship and presentation. In the next several weeks, those individuals who we believe meet the criteria for Distinguished Membership will be contacted and invited to apply for this status. Check our website soon for information on the criteria for Distinguished Membership. If you believe that you meet these criteria, please reach out to us so that we can get the process started for you.
On the publication's, front I announced at the Business Meeting that the Publication's Committee is currently working on two important strategic initiatives. The first is to bring back the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology (ARIST). Our intention is to make this publication open access to ASIS&T members and, if financially feasible, open access to the public as well. We have received proposals from several publishers who are interested in making this a reality and the publication's committee is currently evaluating those proposals. Additionally, we will be launching a new publication in 2021. This publication will be an online magazine called Information Matters. The intent of this publication is to be an outward facing means of communicating the work that ASIS&T members and others are doing in the information science space. It will be an opportunity for those who have done important research to translate that research in a way that will reach and be usable by the press, industry, and the public. The Publications Committee is currently seeking an Editor-in-Chief to lead this endeavor. Please keep an eye on your emails from ASIS&T for an invitation to apply for that position if you are interested.
The Professional Development Committee is hard at work putting together plans for two new events. One will be a 24-hour conference that will enable members from around the world to participate in an ASIS&T event in a timeframe that is convenient for them. The second event in planning is a meeting similar to the IA Summit that will focus on information issues of relevance to both the research and practice communities. Both of these events are in the planning stages. If you are interested in working on either of these two events, please contact Cathy Nash to express your interest.
Financially, ASIS&T is very sound. We are currently undertaking our Fiscal Year 2020 audit, which should be completed in February of 2021. We anticipate showing a positive bottom line again in FY20. This is a significant turnaround from the two years of deficit which we experienced in FY18 and FY19. These positive financial results are due in large part to substantial cost cutting measures, which include reducing staff size from seven to five.
As you can imagine, this reduction put a significant workload on the remaining staff. However, they have performed admirably under these circumstances and continue to deliver on the programs and services you expect. I am happy to announce that we will be hiring two new staff in the coming months. We will be looking for a Managing Editor to support all of ASIS&T publications, including JASIST. Additionally, this individual will provide managing editor support for ARIST and Information Matters, as well as any other new publications we may develop in the future. The second position is a Director of Marketing and Communications. Marketing is a significant aspect of the new strategic plan and the Board felt that dedicated staff would be needed to achieve the kinds of results we are hoping to achieve. This individual will be tasked with building the ASIS&T brand and communicating the value of affiliation with and membership in a ASIS&T to existing and future stakeholders. If any ASIS&T members are interested in applying for either of these positions, please contact me directly. The job descriptions will be posted on the ASIS&T website in the coming week.
Clearly, there is much to be done to fulfill the objectives of the strategic plan, but work is well underway to make progress on those objectives. I am delighted with the significant effort that committees and volunteers have already undertaken to moving these initiatives forward. I am confident that members will see a meaningful increase in the value they receive for membership as we are able to execute on these ideas. As always, I welcome your feedback and input. And if you have interest in becoming more involved in any of these activities, we are eager to hear from you,
My very best wishes to you and yours for a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.
Lydia Middleton, MBA, CAE