ASIS&T Executive Director Search

Membership Input Survey Report

ASIS&T Executive Director Search Committee, December 8, 2016

Introduction

This report summarizes the input provided by the ASIS&T membership to inform the search for the association’s next executive director.   The online survey was conducted over a three-week period from the 10th to the 31st of October 2017.  There were 93 responses submitted to the online survey form and one response emailed to the Executive Director Search Committee.  This report is made up of two parts.  The first is a profile of the participating members and the second is a summary of the responses to the four open-ended questions (#5-8), analyzed and compiled by Rebekah (Becky) Willson, Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde.  For each question, she identified themes, which are briefly described and representative examples provided. Key themes that came out were inclusivity, communication, vision, and skills such as management, customer service, and the ability to support activities.

1. I am a …

Category n = 93
Professional Member 51 (54.8%)
Retired Member 8 (8.6%)
Student Member 20 (21.5%)
Transitional Professional Member 5 (5.4%)
Hardship Member 0
Institutional Affiliate 1 (1.1%)
Corporate Patron 0
Developing Nation Member (see 1a.) 4 (4.3%)
Other 4 (4.3%)

 

1a. I am a developing nation member in the following category:

Category n = 16
Student 9 (56.3%)
Transitional Professional 1 (6.3%)
Professional 5 (31.3%)
Institutional 1 (6.3%)
Corporate Patron 0
Other 0

 

2. I have been an ASIS&T member for …

Duration n = 93
less than a year 17 (18.3%)
1-3 years 16 (17.2%)
4-10 years 22 (23.7%)
more than 10 years 33 (35.5%)
Other 5 (5.4%)

 

3. My leadership participation in ASIS&T is: (check all that apply)

Value n = 90
ASIS&T Board member (current or past) 14 (15.6%)
ASIS&T Committee member (current or past) 37 (41.1%)
ASIS&T Chapter leadership (current or past) 22 (24.4%)
ASIS&T SIG Leadership (current or past) 30 (33.3%)
Non-applicable 36 (40%)
Other 10 (11.1%)

 

4. My work is in: (check all that apply)

Value n = 92
Education 59 (64.1%)
Research 63 (68.5%)
Professional practice 35 (38%)
LIS school administration (e.g., Department Chair, Dean, Program Head, etc.) 8 (8.7%)
LIS institutional administration (e.g., Library Director/Dean, Information Center Director/Manager, etc.) 6 (6.5%)
Other 7 (7.6%)

 

Results for Questions 5-8

Analyzed and Compiled by Rebekah (Becky) Willson, MLIS, PhD
Lecturer, Department of Computer & Information Sciences
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland
rebekah.willson@strath.ac.uk 

5. Please share what you would like the ASIS&T Executive Director Search Committee to consider in the search process and what would make an ideal candidate.

This question was answered by all 94 respondents.

  • Management skills: There were 18 mentions of management skills and experience as essential to the role of ED, with a further 5 mentions specifically relating to financial management skills. Additionally, 2 respondents mentioned their feelings about hiring a management company. These respondents gave opposing opinions, with one feeling that an ED provides a point of contact and a face for the association (aiding in the development of relationships) and the other respondent felt that hiring a company for the size of the association would be a better financial decision.
    • “experience running a similar organization or at least transferrable skills”
    • “has experience in managing events, people and processes”
    • “Ability to balance sound finances with fulfilment of mission and vision”
    • “fiscally responsible”
    • Management company:
      • “I very much favor hiring a new Executive Director rather than hiring a management firm. Having a single person, dedicated to serving ASIS&T and its members, gives everyone a good point of contact as well as a “public face” for the Association when required.  Such an individual also builds corporate memory and personal relationships, which at bottom are two of the most important things an ED can develop.”
      • “Perhaps first off the association ought to consider whether we are now so small that it would be better to hire an organization that provides membership & conference services, rather than maintain a full-time staff. The income that we enjoyed from publication contracts will decrease at some point, and we will need to avoid sharp increases in dues & conference fees.”
  • Knowledge of LIS: There were 22 mentions of the importance of the ED having some knowledge of (library) information science. While many wanted an understanding of the field, some felt that it was important for the person to have a degree in the field, while others wanted a researcher and a practitioner. There were a further 5 mentions of the importance of the ED having knowledge of ASIS&T.
    • “The Executive Director needs to have a good understanding of the information field, very broadly construed, from computer science to cognitive psychology and understand the role of ASIST among the many associations that operate in that space. “
    • “Needs to be a person who is familiar with the field of information science”
    • “some knowledge of the field of LIS and of scholarly publishing”
    • “with some knowledge of the information industry and the educational disciplines that contribute to that industry”
    • “Both academic and professional experience.”
    • “MLIS”
    • “Should have some experience with ASIS&T.”
  • Communication: There were 15 mentions of the importance of having an ED who would effectively communicate, with a further 4 mentions of responsiveness and approachability as being key. Some respondents mentioned specific tasks that they feel should be a part of communication, as well as the need for transparency. Some respondents indicated that they felt communication skills were lacking within ASIS&T.
    • “Clear, effective communication”
    • “better communication with members”
    • “An ideal candidate should be able to provide annual reports to members, share board meeting minutes with members in a timely manner”
    • “Please make sure that the person is committed to transparency and openness in communication with both board and membership.”
    • “Someone who is responsive, approachable”
  • Vision and leadership: There were 17 mentions of the importance of vision, innovativeness, and forward thinking as key aspects of an ED. There were a further 7 specific mentions of the need for leadership.
    • “Vision, forward looking”
    • “bring new ideas regarding how scholarly societies can better meet the needs of its members and serve larger numbers of members, find ways to increase attendance at and the impact of the annual meeting”
    • “Has an open mind and is visionary about development information science.”
    • “leadership in society’s membership development”
    • “The ideal candidate would be an inspiring leader”
  • Inclusiveness: There were 14 mentions of the need for inclusiveness and open-mindedness regarding the diversity, some mentioning specific groups that needed attention, such as students or practitioners. Additionally, there were a further 5 mentions about needing to be more international inclusion.
    • “Someone who is focused on the entirety of ASIS&T membership, not just in intellectual diversity, but across the lifespan of membership from new student member to senior leader”
    • “Someone who sees value in librarians. It’s obviously from current treatment that we’re seen as quiet little women who should just be handing over large checks and being happy. We’re not engaged by ASIST ED at all nor really by ASIST other than when it is time to cough up ridiculously large checks for RDAP.”
    • “Diversity should be a top priority when considering an ideal candidate. Diversity in terms of race, class, gender, nationality/national situatedness, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.”
    • “An international perspective and sensitivity;”
  • Engagement: There were 13 mentions of the importance of engagement with current members, as well as a reaching out to potential new members and others in the field, including practitioners.
    • “successfully interact with existing and perspective members”
    • “I would also like to see more remote social and scholarly activities between conferences to build a sense of community.”
    • “The ASIST Executive Director should build bridges between professionals and academe.”
    • “A researcher and collaborator w. Students, information professionals, and has global reach.”
  • Specific tasks: There were 13 mentions of specific tasks that respondents believed should be performed by the new ED or specific skills they believed the ED should possess. These varied widely, but several were about experience publishing or engaging more broadly. There were a further 9 mentions of technology skills that respondents felt the ED should possess. Responses indicated that some respondents felt that technology skills were currently lacking.
    • “successfully do fund raising”
    • “focus on mentorship”
    • “Sophisticated negotiation skills for dealing with publishers.”
    • “Interest in having the association take a more active role in the information policy arena.”
    • “Good practical knowledge of web technologies and social media.”
    • “Someone who is competent with technology. I shouldn’t have to explain things like why a text version of a hyperlink in an email can help one get back to a journal article.”
  • Personal characteristics: There were 24 mentions of specific personal characteristics respondents thought the new ED should possess. The personal characteristics varied widely, many of which related to being organised, efficient, flexible, and able to work well with others. Added to this were another 5 mentions about having a service orientation, and 4 mentions about supporting the work done by the organisation.
    • “Professional approach”
    • “flexibility, attention to detail, courteous service to all members, highly honed organizational skills”
    • “effective, efficient,”
    • “Also someone outgoing & personable.”
    • “Service oriented”
    • “An understanding that the members ARE ASIS&T and that the Executive Director is there to serve the organization.”
    • “supportive of new ideas and various activities.”
  • Another aspect mentioned by survey respondents was the need for someone in the position who would be there in the long term.

 

6. What does ASIS&T staff provide now that you appreciate and value?

This question was answered by 88 respondents. While some respondents mentioned what they appreciated and valued about ASIS&T staff, some used this question to discuss what they felt was wrong or not working.

  • Activities: Many respondents mentioned specific activities that ASIS&T staff work on, including conferences (16 mentions), webinars and events (16 mentions), publications (3 mentions), SIGs and groups (3 mentions), as well as access to resources (3 mentions). The Annual Meeting and webinars were most frequently mentioned.
    • “The conferences are usually well organized.”
    • “Thus far the consistently interesting and free webinar series have been great.”
    • “Online events to meet and interact with other professionals and students”
    • “The many committees/sub-organizations that I can join now is something I enjoy very much.”
    • “reliable, comprehensive sources and the latest research in all disciplines related to information science.”
  • Communication: There were 20 mentions of communication by respondents, including membership communication, announcements, and publicity. A further 12 mentions were about responsiveness, the ability to get replies and the timeliness of those replies. A small number of the responses were about the problems with responsiveness.
    • “Very helpful with communication.”
    • “Periodic updates and communication on ASIS&T matters”
    • “alerts/summaries of journal/bulletin/conferences”
    • “Prompt response to questions,”
    • “Competent, responsive and lovely people to work with. Very responsive and very accommodating to my requests,”
    • “current Executive Director is not responsive”
  • Customer service: There were some broad discussions about service received from ASIS&T staff, including customer service, competence, helpfulness, and knowledge of ASIS&T. There were 23 mentions of these varieties. One mention was of a negative experience.
    • “The ASIS&T staff are wonderful – great customer service. Someone is always there with an answer for me.  Great sense of humor and friendliness.”
    • “Efficiency, support, courtesy, and diligence.”
    • “Extremely competent in any interactions I’ve had”
    • “I value the ASIST staff very much. My interactions with them have always been very positive; they have worked to quickly resolve any problems with my membership or with my chapter.”
    • “The current staff is knowledgeable (lots of institutional memory)”
    • “Many times in the past 3 years staff have failed to complete tasks in a timely manner. As a volunteer, I should not have to manage staff and keep them on task and as is currently required.”
  • Support: There were 14 mentions of support by respondents for various activities, including administrative, logistic, and organisational work. Some of these mentions were specifically about technology support received.
    • “They support all of our volunteer activities, and especially membership services, meetings, webinars and communications.”
    • “processing dues and other subscriptions, provide logistics for annual meetings.”
    • “Support with any organizational issues, e.g. webinars and their promotion, webpage issues etc.”
    • “administrative and information technology support.”
    • “list serv and web page support”
  • Networks: Another aspect 5 survey respondents mentioned appreciating was networking and contacts provided.
    • “networking”
    • “The connectivity with several aspects of the information science and with several researchers of the whole world, allowing access to the state-of-art in information science research”

 

7. What do you expect/want from ASIS&T staff under the direction of a new Executive Director?

This question was answered by 87 respondents (excluding n/a answers).

  • Communication: There were 9 mentions of communication, with a further 6 responses about responsiveness. Six of the 9 mentions of communication and 1 of the 6 mentions of responsiveness indicated dissatisfaction with current communication practices.
    • “Clear channels of communication throughout the organization.”
    • “I have no idea if I’m on a SIG or how to get involved or why. With so many other things to do the staff needs to make clear their value to the members. Otherwise we’re paying them to not communicate effectively to us.”
    • “Proactive outreach and cutting out the drek, streamline operations with communications in advance”
    • “Timely responses; accurate information on the organization;”
    • “Better responsiveness”
  • Inclusivity: There were 8 mentions about the importance of being more inclusive as an organisation, with another 7 mentions of the need to focus internationally. Several of the mentions indicated that respondents felt there was a lack of inclusion.
    • “Be inclusive and open to working with ASIS&T members from different regions, contexts and backgrounds”
    • “Enhancing diversity”
    • “Emphasis on diversity, inclusion and social justice in terms of who is hired, where conferences are held, who gets appointed/elected to committees, and most importantly, what sort of work is supported by the Association (e.g. work that does not simply reify dominant social structures and power dynamics)”
    • “better grasp of member’s concerns, quickness to address them, grasp of international members concerns and willingness to address them”
  • Same: There were 14 mentions of being satisfied with current practices of ASIS&T staff and a continuation of the same, with some continued improvements.
    • “I want them to continue to provide the same high quality service they currently do.”
    • “I expect them to continue to do well what they do well now”
    • “More of the same!”
    • “continue with ongoing activities”
  • Professionalism and service: There were 16 mentions of wanting ASIS&T staff to have professionalism and a focus on service. One mention of this desire indicated a current unhappiness with ASIS&T staff.
    • “flexibility, and service ethos”
    • “Helpful, problem-solving attitude, etc.”
    • “Efficient and effective operations.”
    • “Facilitate the transition and keep doing a good job”
    • “Access to and approachability.”
    • “More polite, sensitive and sensible staff with respect to relationships.”
  • Interactions: There were 11 mentions of wanting greater interaction and connections within ASIS&T, to practice, and other organisations, as well as a growth of the organisation.
    • “More outreach to professional practice.”
    • “More interaction with the members.”
    • “I hope that they can make a great work continuing what is developed now and investing efforts to increasingly the integration of the information science researchers all over the world through dialogue, academic cooperation and experiences exchange.”
    • “Growth of the member base.”
  • Support: There were 10 mentions of wanting support for organisational activities. Half of the mentions indicated wanting more or different support from what is currently offered, including more webinar support and better organisation.
    • “Continue support of all members and personal approach to questions.”
    • “arranging support for the organization”
    • “Better organization (e.g., onboarding) for SIGs and student chapters”
    • “Webinar support for hours other than M-F 9-4, i.e., on weekends and evenings.”
  • Events and publishing: There were 8 mentions of respondents wanting ASIS&T staff to organise events (particularly the conference) and a further 3 mentions about publishing. Four of the mentions indicated some dissatisfaction with current practices.
    • “Continue creating great conferences”
    • “Continued webinars, maybe live web casts from major in-person events such as the meeting in Copenhagen.”
    • “better management of the Annual Meeting, a focus on ASIST,”
    • “Be more proactive in the digital publishing areas”
    • “To enforce open access publications and data”
  • Innovation and change: There were 7 mentions of wanting to innovate, modernise, and respond to change.
    • “To be innovative, ready to take chance with challenges that many professional associations face nowadays.”
    • “Modernize”
    • “capabilities to suggest alternative options for moving forward in an efficient manner.”
  • Website and technology: There were 6 mentions of desires for ASIS&T staff to work on particularly aspects of technology, almost entirely about the website and indicating a dissatisfaction with current practices.
    • “An updated website that does not have broken links or pages using obsolete branding or styles.”
    • “Greater technical consultation for chapters initiating their first webinar, with respect to what hardware and software one should have and how to configure it.”
    • “It would be nice to have some web design expertise on the ASIS&T staff for handling and managing charges to the website.”
    • “More dynamic web presence. Information should be shared. Stream line web content”
  • Affordability: There were 3 mentions of a desire for more affordable events and conferences.
    • “Events that are affordable and well-attended”
    • “Events that can be afforded by students from all over the world”
    • “Conferences that aren’t HORRENDOUSLY expensive.”
  • There were several other various mentions of suggestions for what respondents wanted from ASIS&T staff, including a focus on the importance of IS.

 

8. Other Comments

There were 27 respondents who provided other comments.

  • There were 6 respondents who mentioned their appreciation of Dick Hill’s work.
  • Importance: Two respondents mentioned the importance of the ED to the organisation.
  • Management company: Two respondents mentioned a management company. Again, their opinions were opposed with one in favour and one against.
    • “ASIS&T needs to explore the extent to which an association management company, e.g. Kellen Co., could be used to optimize the workload of the ASIS&T staff. For example, association management companies routinely manage large meetings for their clients.  The work of the ASIS&T staff needs to be analyzed to understand the distribution of their time, and the routine functions that could best be offloaded so that ASIS&T staff could concentrate on those functions that only they can do.”
    • “I hear rumors that consideration is being given to using a management company. Don’t!”
  • Critiques of the process: There were 3 critiques of the process for finding a new ED, two about the questions on the questionnaire and one about the representativeness of the search committee members.
    • Questions:
      • “Separating out the developing nation category seems offensive. Do the opinions of members from developing nations have a different importance?”
      • “Under Question 4, you should not have specified administration in an LIS context; surely there are members who are in schools/departments which are not LIS. It’s a serious mistake to make this limitation.”
    • Representativeness: “Search committee should be representative of the members.”
  • Critiques of ASIS&T: There were 4 critiques of ASIS&T mentioned. Three had to do with cost and one to do with communication.
    • Cost:
      • “The high cost of membership for professionals earning the equivalent of a minimum wage job (since libraries increasingly offer overwhelmingly part-time work) inhibits wider membership.”
      • “work towards reducing the cost of AM registration and hotel venues”
      • “Most students from developing countries are struggling to make ends meet in their country, if access to documents is less stringent, it will go a long way in alleviating their struggles and make research work easier on them.”
    • Communication: “ASIST has a communication problem, can the new ED fix that?”
  • Inclusiveness: There were 5 mentions about the importance of ASIS&T becoming more inclusive, including being more inclusive internationally.
    • “Much more open to the new member countries and new challenges for the IS profession”
    • “I hope that ASIS&T can grow further and integrate more on south hemisphere.”