It’s hard to believe that this is my final ASIS&T President’s column. It has been a busy year, with many changes and transitions. Dick Hill, the ASIS&T Executive Director for 27 years, announced his retirement and planned to stay onboard until a new Executive Director was hired. Unfortunately, Dick became ill in January 2017 and did not return to work. The Board appointed an acting executive director and I worked closely with the staff to better understand the budget, staffing, policies, and procedures. As would be expected, this brought many changes to the Association. ASIS&T hired an executive search firm and created a search committee co-chaired by Sandy Hirsh and Clara Chu. In May ASIS&T hired a new executive director, Lydia Middleton. We have had a staff transition and several of the staff are no longer with ASIS&T. A new Director of Marketing & Development, Maureen Markey, and a Director of Meetings & Events, DeVonne Parks were hired. A temporary staff member has been hired to assist with the finances and budget.
During the transition period the ASIS&T Board has continued to review our strategic plan and to address some of our identified priorities – membership, programs/services, publications/communications, and institutional knowledge.
We initiated several membership campaigns and the ASIS&T membership has increased 10% between September 2015 and September 2017. We also have been working to re-engage information science professionals in the association and have initiated collaboration with the IA Summit. I was invited to give a welcome to the attendees of the 2017 IA Summit and we have created the IA Industry Panel that is organized and presented by active members of the IA Summit and will be included as part of the annual meeting program each year.
We also have adopted a new communication system for members provided by Higher Logic. The platform enables members to communicate through blogs and forums. Member communities, such as Chapters, SIGs, and committees, will have their own sections of the site that will serve as a document repository and communication hub. This new platform is in response to ASIS&T members’ requests for member networks and easier modes of communication between members. Look for the platform to debut at the Annual Meeting and be up and running early in 2018.
The Board recommended that ASIS&T reduce the number of at-large members from six to three during the next three elections. This was passed by the membership with 205 votes approving the change, 26 votes against the change, and 6 votes abstaining.
Another priority focuses on mentorships, virtual networking and programs and local events. We have continued the Meet the Author webinar series that was initiated by Past President Nadia Caidi. We also have been involved in numerous regional and local events for ASIS&T members. ASIS&T Chapters hosted several regional and student meetings this year, with emphasis on international membership, which I was able to attend. Asia Pacific Chapter Regional Meetings were held at Nankai University in Tianjin, China and Hong Kong. The Taipei Chapter organized a regional meeting as well as sessions for me to meet with students, faculty, and information professionals at the various information science programs throughout Taiwan. The European Chapter organized regional meetings in Barcelona, Florence, and Berlin. The European Chapter won the Chapter of the Year Award and the European Student Chapter won the student chapter of the year award. The Central Ohio (CO-ASIS&T) Regional Chapter held two meetings, one of which included the Northeastern Ohio and the Indiana Chapters and CO-ASIS&T won the Chapter Event of the Year Award for its 2017 Summer of Tours. The University of South Carolina Student Chapter organized a lecture and lunch with doctoral students for me.
Members identified academic and professional mentoring programs as a priority for them. We have developed a Mentorship Program, sponsored by OCLC, that will meet for the first time at our 2017 Annual Meeting. The OCLC sponsorship provides a small travel allowance for protégés. Stephanie Alexander, Social Sciences and Assessment Librarian at California State University, East Bay, and David Schwieder, PhD, Political Science Librarian at the University of Florida, are leading the Mentorship Program since they have developed and led a successful Mentoring Program for the American Library Association Library Research Round Table. Rebekah Willson, PhD, Lecturer in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and the New Leader who is working with me for two years, agreed to Chair the Review Committee for the selection of mentors and protégés. This is a two-year commitment, beginning at the ASIS&T 2017 AM and ending at the ASIS&T 2018 AM. We are excited to launch the program and will continue to change it based on the evaluations and suggestions of the mentors and protégés. The Mentorship Program complements the existing New Leaders Program and the Doctoral Colloquium.
Rethinking ASIS&T’s publications portfolio also was identified as a strategic goal. The Board has worked closely with the ASIS&T Publications Committee to develop a monograph series and the launch of Inside ASIS&T, a member-only communication vehicle for news about the organization and its members. With the retirement of Irene Travis, editor of the Bulletin, coupled with the results of the Publications Committee’s survey to the membership and Irene’s recommendation, the Bulletin has ceased publication until there is time to review and evaluate the publication.
The Board voted to formalize the ASIS&T Archive and Kathryn La Barre has agreed to be the ASIS&T Curator. The ASIS&T staff is conducting an inventory of our in-house assets and has been organizing the ASIS&T library, network server, and paper files.
We have accomplished these things and organized a great annual meeting. Sanda Erdelez and Naresh Agarwal, co-chairs of the annual meeting, and their co-chairs, Sam Chu, Mega Subramaniam, Dania Bilal, Nouf Kashman, Kanwal Ameen, and Kyungwon Koh, have developed a great program for us. We have added a half-day to the conference in order for attendees to have more time for networking and meeting with colleagues.
The Women Leaders of the Information Field Happy Hour is back by popular demand. We also have organized the Career Connection where doctoral students, academics, and higher education hiring departments have the opportunity to interview, network, and learn about each other. The 80th Anniversary Celebration is combined with the Welcome Reception on Sunday evening and The Professors are providing music after the reception. Tuesday evening will close with the final SIG CON in its current format. After this year’s meeting, SIG CON will no longer be a part of the formal program so that it can go back to its roots as an informal session, often organized in the annual meeting hotel bar.
It’s been a year full of surprises but we have accomplished a lot and ASIS&T now is experiencing a period of change and rejuvenation. It has been an honor to serve as the ASIS&T President during this past year. As my term ends, I look back on a year that broadened my thinking and forced me to make some very difficult decisions. In addition, I had the experience of a lifetime meeting members in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Europe, and the US and have gained a stronger appreciation of the power of ASIS&T’s networks.
I look forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting in Crystal City!