Nadia Caidi is 2016 ASIS&T President and an Associate Professor in the iSchool at the University of Toronto. She can be reached at email@example.com.
On behalf of my colleagues on the ASIS&T Board, I would like to extend to you all our best wishes for the New Year, and a happy start to 2016.
In the past few months, I attended several events and represented ASIS&T at various meetings including the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) in Washington, D.C., as well as ALISE and the ALA mid-Winter (both in Boston). To me, this was a wonderful reminder of how crosscutting and broadly encompassing the field of information science truly is.
Council of Scientific Society Presidents
The Council of Scientific Society Presidents is an umbrella organization representing a broad array of scientific disciplines. Affiliated member societies are represented by their presidents. CSSP’s biannual meetings are a wonderful opportunity for members to share best practices, to lend a strong voice in support of science and science policy development and to learn about cutting edge research. At the CSSP meeting this past December, information issues pervaded many sessions: from the talk by Prof. Jacqueline Burton on gene editing and the chemistry of DNA, to Prof. Abigail Marsh’s take on the altruistic brain.
In his inspiring talk about the Mars mission, special guest General Charles F. Bolden Jr. (NASA Administrator) related to the CSSP audience that while the technological issues are for the most part figured out, what is needed is behavioral and social scientific research on humans’ adaptation to living in space for prolonged periods of time as they journey toward Mars. General Holden’s openness to interdisciplinary inquiry is steeped in decades of collaboration with various scientists and partners. When asked about his mentor and inspiration, however, he attributes his success in part to his mother, Ethel Martin Bolden, a practicing librarian in South Carolina.
It is during CSSP’s working group meetings, however, that issues most familiar to the information field emerge as our sister societies relate their struggles with making sense of the changing landscape of scholarly publishing (open access models, author publication/processing charges, mega-journals and the future of the academic journal.) Similarly, the data syndrome is a recurring theme: how to ensure integrity and security of one’s data or to preserve and curate born-digital data for effective access and re-use. I saw ample opportunities for our field to contribute our expertise on these matters and engage in discussion with our sister societies. ASIS&T is seeking to co-sponsor a workshop or session on these issues for the next meeting of CSSP. I will reach out to some of you for your research expertise.
If you have not attended an ALA meeting in recent years, you should reconsider. There is a palpable energy to these meetings as droves of librarians descend on the Exhibit Hall (the Mid-Winter meeting was held in Boston from January 8-12). Vendors, publishers, LIS programs, authors, libraries and, of course, librarians engage in complex rituals that include lots of freebies, book signing, cooking demos, updates about the latest developments in LIS-related services, inspiring talks and ample opportunities to network with a range of people representing all sectors of
the library universe.
As an ALA affiliate, ASIS&T was well represented by President-Elect Lynn Connaway, and past ASIS&T presidents Samantha Hastings and Linda Smith. In the Exhibit Hall, Wayne Wiegand could be found in the Oxford University Press booth signing copies of his latest book, “Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library.” The ALA meetings, in many ways, are a reminder that our field is deeply connected with books and libraries, with reading and literacy, with information organization and access and with the training of librarians and other information
That training was a significant theme at the ALISE 2016 conference (also held in Boston). Many sessions were devoted to pedagogy, experiential learning, ethics and values. Beyond the panels and juried papers, however, there were numerous conversations about the future of the accreditation process and standards. Last fall ALA President Sari Feldman appointed two task forces on LIS accreditation to make recommendations to the ALA Executive Board. As one of the leading organizations representing the information field in all its richness and variety, ASIS&T plans on
participating in these conversations around accreditation reforms. We will be consulting with our membership once the Board establishes the most appropriate means to communicate ASIS&T’s position on this matter.
In the meantime, the preparations for the 2016 Annual Meeting of ASIS&T in Copenhagen are progressing well. Co-chairs Diane Sonnenwald and Lauren Harrison promise to deliver us a unique experience, and they invite you to submit your papers and panel sessions (due date: April 17). I encourage those who wish to do so to take advantage of the Paper Mentoring Service (deadline to submit is March 10, 2016). We thank the officers and the volunteers who are contributing to this innovative experiment. The Annual Meeting is shaping up to be a great opportunity to bring diverse perspectives and approaches to our study of the library and information fields. I look forward to seeing most of you in Copenhagen.