2015 ASIS&T President
Director and Professor
School of Information
San Jose State University
The new year is a time for reflection and goal setting. In this spirit, I will reflect on and share some of the insights I gained from attending the Council of Scientific Society Presidents meeting, and I will look forward to what is ahead for our association in 2015.
After our Annual Meeting in Seattle, I attended a very stimulating and productive meeting of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP), an organization of the presidents of about 60 scientific federations and societies. During the meeting, we heard from many distinguished speakers, including France Córdova, director, National Science Foundation; John Holdren, director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Joe Palca, National Public Radio; Neil Gershenfeld, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Hunter Rawlings III, president, Association of American Universities; and Andy Reynolds, deputy science and technology advisor to the Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State. These speakers addressed a range of timely and important topics that are relevant to ASIS&T and scientific societies in general. Here are some of my key takeaways:
Different societies – similar issues: Even though the societies belonging to CSSP are diverse and range significantly in size – from those with fewer than 1000 members to those with more than 100,000 members (the American Chemical Society has more than 160,000 members), one of my biggest takeaways was that scientific and professional societies are generally experiencing similar issues and are evolving in similar ways. For example, many of these societies have recently changed (or are considering changing) their names and membership from “American Societies” – just as ASIS&T did – to be more inclusive and representative of their international membership. Several are also wrestling with whether to change their names as their field’s terminology has evolved.
Importance of awareness and advocacy: Scientific societies are very concerned with public awareness of science and how to ensure there is broad support and awareness about their contributions and impact. This concern for public awareness connects well with one of our strategic initiatives this year – the work that the Information Professionals Taskforce is engaged in, specifically its focus on broadening employer and public understanding and awareness of the information professions. The CSSP focuses a great deal of its efforts on advocacy (for example, meeting with members of Congress, doing Capitol Hill briefings) to address such concerns and to ensure continued investment in science. The collective voice of this organization – over 1.4 million scientists and science educators – is powerful and allows smaller associations like ASIS&T to effect change at a national level that would not be possible otherwise.
Best practices: I especially found it valuable to share best practices with other associations. For example, here are some of the topics I thought were interesting and relevant for ASIS&T:
How other associations handle strategic planning (for example, frequency of major strategic planning initiatives, how funding for strategic initiatives is handled, who is responsible for leading strategic planning initiatives)
Association governance (board size, succession planning, board training)
Public outreach (staffing for these efforts, strategies used, costs for PR initiatives)
Relationships with related associations (how/whether they partner, give discounts for belonging to multiple associations, hold joint meetings)
International practices (frequency of holding meetings outside the United States, cultural differences)
The importance of diversity and inclusion (including ideas for ways to achieve them within associations).
I will apply some of these best practices and the new knowledge I gained to benefit our own association.
Looking Ahead to 2015
In my last President’s Page, I discussed my three goals for my year as president. Specifically
- develop a strategic plan for the Association,
- identify ways to attract, engage and retain members, especially practitioners, students and international members and
- advocate for the information professions.
All of the committees and task forces are hard at work to move these initiatives forward. We have some preliminary findings from the strategic planning focus group interview sessions and poster-board questions that were collected during the Annual Meeting in Seattle, and we will be holding additional focus group sessions as well. More information will be shared soon regarding progress on these initiatives.
One of the biggest changes that will greet us early in 2015 is our completed website redesign. The new website is applying responsive design principles, enabling the site to render well on mobile devices. This new design detects the size of the device being used such as cellphone or tablet and automatically adjusts the display for that device. Going through the development process with Seven Heads (the design team) has prompted us to update more than just our website, but also some of our practices and procedures – many of which had not been assessed in years. We expect to start the transition from the current site to the new site in mid-to-late February. For some time, as we work out bugs, both sites will continue to be available. It may take longer than February to finish migrating all of the content to the new site (www.root.asist.org). On the new site, the contact button currently functions to allow anyone to make comments or suggestions regarding what they like or don’t like about the design and functionality. We are interested in your feedback.
In closing, as I reflect on our Association, I am very grateful for our members’ engagement, support and volunteer efforts, which make ASIS&T a successful and vibrant organization. I am looking forward to working with you in 2015 on the strategic goals we have set so that we can continue to build on the strengths of the Association and ensure that ASIS&T remains strong for many years to come.