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Outside Inside ASIS&T, May 2019


Hello members,

What is the single most requested item that ASIS&T members have been clamoring for? You’re right, but you will have to wait to the end to see if we agree!

Rather than the usual summer retreat, the Board met in early April in Maryland, about midway through our business year to consider our current situation. Membership is in a state of flux, and our budget is a little precarious. But notably we are sitting on a ‘pile’ and I do mean a nice comfortable pile. Perhaps it is time to re-invest in our future.

Over two days, the Board came up with over 20 ideas. Our focus was on what services and value should ASIS&T be offering its members. Two to three Board members are currently developing some of these hair-brained ideas into at least a basic concept so we can decide in June on priorities and where to invest some of our funds.  This will take intense development.  Perhaps a few can be implemented this year.

What are we working on? A baker’s dozen!

  1. Yes, you are right! We are re-developing the ARIST concept! Whether this will be simply a continuation of the old concept, systematic reviews, or something else is up for debate. But the one thing we did decide was that this must be “open access.”
  2. So that brings us to, how can we do this? Right now we are exploring creating our own publishing platform. In the short term, this might require using some sort of service. But what should it be? I personally think of it as our “information space” which will include ARIST as well as a host of other things…but a resource for information science is my dream.
  3. Special information symposia: it has been said and I concur that some of the most memorable ASIS&T sessions are held as pre-conference events. Rather than forcing everything into an annual meeting, our thinking is to have multiple special topic symposia that might attract 60-100 people max and might be repeatable from year to year. But the key piece is that they are focused in a very specific area which could be anything a set of members or a SIG thinks is worth it.
  4. While we are on the topic of meetings, we also are exploring regional meetings which would enable ASIS&T members to meet, discuss and present their work when the Annual Meeting is halfway around the world. It’s time to think more globally but also enable the local.
  5. And with that in mind, we are also exploring the concept of the 24-hour virtual conference, with one session in each time zone. This would enable, in particular, students and professionals who may never be able to attend an Annual Meeting to still meet and present their work. Yes, some sessions will be at 3am in someone’s time zone, but there will be enough sessions in everyone’s waking hours to fill a half day. And who knows? perhaps a slumber party might be had to listen to that session of particular interest halfway around the world.
  6. TEDx: can we co-host? We don’t know but we are exploring it.
  7. Bootcamps and institutes: can we organise week long events for specific training and learning events?
  8. Certificate programmes or Master Classes: is this possible? If so how?
  9. Webinars and Podcasts: we have made good use of webinars, but they come in a flurry or not at all. Can we be more systematic? Can we develop themes so that a person might keep it on watch? We have ignored podcasts, but that is a vibrant communication channel that we should be using. How to make the best use of these, and thus, also develop a set of resources that can be re-used for training and informal learning?
  10. The Bulletin! Is this worth replacing, and if so with what? Should we consider a hybrid that combines refereed content with news and opinion? Should we develop a blog (Information Matters!) that might contain elements of both? We are very bad at external engagement and knowledge exchange outside the Association, and therefore, allowing our work to be tested in the public forum. What is the best way to do this? While members may not immediately see a benefit, the benefit will be in spades to individuals and to the Association if we actually achieve it.
  11. We love JASIST and rightly so (wait for my next column). But is there room for a JASIST family? We are exploring the concept of JASIST B and what it might look like and contain (and do so with the JASIST editor’s encouragement).
  12. Should we publish SIG workshop proceedings? Should we have a publication for professionals? Should we have something that publishes more qualitative research than current publications? These remain open questions, but now you must be able to appreciate the value of having our own publishing platform for specialty items (and this is a separate issue from JASIST which in any case would continue as it does right now).
  13. Speakers Bureau: we have so much expertise amongst our membership. Sometimes it is a chapter looking for a speaker; sometimes it is the press looking for an expert. How do we connect the two?

Clearly, we cannot do all of these things, at least not in the next year. We will prioritize in June using also the data that you will have provided in the Membership Survey which was sent to you recently. After June you will see requests for volunteers. All we can do is put a little meat on the concept; it will need a lot of members input to make it happen. In the end, we are hoping that some of these will encourage members to stay and entice others to join. Some may net some revenue and some we think will simply be a benefit of being an ASIS&T member.

If you find any of these ideas intriguing (or not), please send me an email:

Elaine Toms, President ASIS&T