of the American Society for Information Science and Technology   Vol. 28, No. 2    December / January 2002

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Donald H. Kraft President's Page

INAUGURAL ADDRESS

Donald H. Kraft, 2002 ASIST President

At the ASIST Annual Business Meeting on November 6, 2001, held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, Donald H. Kraft was installed as president for the 2002 administrative year. The following is his inaugural address.

As President Joseph A. Busch said so well last year in his inaugural address (Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, February/March 2001), the information age is indeed upon us.  It has been over a year since we changed the name of our society to address the effects of the dramatic changes in technology upon our professional society and upon ourselves.

The 2001 year, the first true year of the new millennium, has been a successful one, building upon the work of Past President Gene Garfield, the Board, the SIGs, chapters, committee chairs, the many other volunteers and, of course, the headquarters staff. To them we owe our gratitude. Thus, we have had a well-planned Annual Meeting and another successful Summit on Information Architecture. The publications of the Society continue to do well and serve our membership and beyond.  Thus, we must continue to consolidate our gains.

However, the randomness of our existence has never been truer. The tragic events of the terrorist attack on our country last September 11th have led to concerns over safety and over our economic condition.  And, in this information age, every fact, every speculation, has been in the news and transmitted in a variety of ways and media. This, in turn, has led to decreased attendance at this Annual Meeting. But, we will carry on and will continue to grow and improve; the bad guys cannot be given a cheap victory.

Last year, the Society updated its mission to advance the discipline via focus, opportunity and support.  It also updated its mission to consider content, community and context.  Thus, Busch gave us a matrix where:

 

Content

Community

Context

Focus

JASIST and ARIST

ASIST Institutes and Summits

ASIST Annual Meetings

Opportunity

Bulletin of ASIST

ASIST SIGs

ASIST Chapters

Support

ASIST website (www.asis.org)

ASIST listservs

ASIST Career Services

ASIST also updated its vision, to consider

    • Advancing knowledge in terms of creation, properties and uses of information
    • Providing analysis on ideas, practice and information technologies
    • Valuing theory, research, applications and service
    • Nurturing new perspectives, interests and ideas
    • Increasing public awareness of the benefits for society of information science and technology.

President Joe Busch (Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology , October/November 2001) noted our objectives for the year had been to coordinate content and context and to build community.  He noted in that article that the Society has achieved considerable progress.  Now, we must overlay Joe's matrix with further implementations to go forward, making it all happen for you, the membership, and for the community at large.

The first thing is to make sure that all of the Society's standing committees are up and functioning properly with new charges to make ASIST the best information society.  This includes Awards and Honors, Budget and Finance, Constitution and Bylaws, Nominations and Standards.

The list of important committees also includes Information Science and Technology Education, where exciting things are happening in terms of ASIST input into information science and technology program accreditation.  It includes Membership, where more exciting plans are being made to recruit new members, keep old members and improve benefits for members.  For example, it may be more important than ever to have ASIST career services available to help members find employment in the volatile economic situation we currently face.  And, for another example, I believe that we need to consider how to attract new members who are already involved with ASIST, who attend our meetings and summits, who are on our listservs and who write material that is published in our publications.  Implementation plans in this arena are expected soon from the Marketing and Recruitment Task Force.

And, we cannot forget to include in this list of important committees Leadership Development, where exciting things are being planned to train new generations of leaders to become involved in and to lead ASIST activities.  This includes a "young Turks" directory and a challenge to all the "young" and/or "relatively new" members of ASIST to get involved and get on that prestigious list.

The second thing is to make sure that the SIGs and chapters remain up and running well, contributing to the vital programs and activities of the Society.  The SIG Cabinet and Chapter Assembly have solid leadership and need to be as involved as ever in Society life and future plans.

The third thing is to make sure that the Society continues to run itself well, especially in terms of finances.  The work of Past President Gene Garfield, President Joe Busch and Executive Director Dick Hill  has done much to put us on a strong footing.  This includes stemming the tide of membership loss while gaining reasonable attendance at our annual meetings and summits, as well as improving the financial arrangements with our publishers.  Again, we owe them our gratitude.  However, we need to continue to solidify and enhance our gains.  This is especially true in these turbulent times.

The fourth thing is to make sure the Board is dealing with all of the issues of governing the Society well.  This includes the Governance and Scheduling Task Force, looking into means to insure that there are ample times and opportunities for the various groups within ASIST to meet and to do the Society's business.  This also includes the editorial advisory boards, which all have ASIST Board liaisons, to keep the Board informed and to provide input as to how the Society can help insure the quality publications we have come to know and appreciate.  Incidentally, the JASIST publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., has commissioned a market survey of JASIST for the Society; this survey, being conducted by Dr. Don Case, will soon be out for the Society to peruse and plan for even better things to come.

In addition, this includes the Institutes and Summits Task Force, which looks into implementing summits, like the ongoing one on information architecture, so that the Society can continue to offer a forum for academics and practitioners on the latest "hot" topics.  They have been working on a model business plan and looked at additional topics, including content management, search and bioinformatics.  Moreover, this includes the Program Advisory Board, which will look into lists of such "hot" topics and help the Institutes and Summits Task Force and the Society decide on which topics deserve further attention - be it an annual meeting theme, a keynote speaker, a track or a session; be it a summit or institute; be it a special issue of the Bulletin or the Journal, or be it whatever.  And, the Affiliations and Advocacy Task Force is looking into which additional societies and organizations within the information science and technology world should be involved with ASIST in one liaison-like capacity or another.

However, we must also consider means to keep the Society at the forefront of information science and technology.  The Information Infrastructure (i.e., Information Architecture) Task Force has been looking into improved computerization of ASIST headquarters, so that staff and members can have access to details of the Society as needed in a cost-beneficial manner.  Thus, we have a new association management software platform, and soon members will be able to access the Society's member services in even better ways.  Moreover, this vital task force is looking into improving the Society website and has the new charge of making sure our website will always be state-of-the-art.  Incidentally, it is also looking into getting a suitable URL for the Society.  In addition, it has suggested the idea of regional forums local groups coming together around specific topics within information science and technology (e.g., information architecture).

There is exciting news in that the Digital Library Task Force is looking into the details and issues involved in setting up the ASIST digital library.  Consider the idea of a seamless system where, for a slight charge, ASIST members can get access electronically to any and all Society publications and, perhaps, more and can search them and link to and from them at will.  For example, imagine the power given to a researcher who can search for and find an ARIST article, or a JASIST article for that matter (I had to mention that somewhere in this inaugural address, don't you think?), in a desired area, read it, find a citation to an important research study in an article, click on that article and get his/her hands on the article via CrossRef.  The Board will be considering going forward with specific implementation thrusts.

"Why do I bother to list these committees and task forces?" you may ask.  I do so because we need your involvement.  This is your Society and we firmly believe in participatory democracy.  Thus, the idea, to paraphrase a saying in the sixties, "tune in, turn on (to ASIST) and drop in."  Become involved; ask me about joining a committee or at least adding your voice to the committee's work!

The bottom line is this: ASIST needs you.  Some of you may remember me, as JASIST editor, saying, at least a time or two, "Publish in JASIST !"  Well, now you are going to have to suffer through hearing me say, "Get active in ASIST!"

I have been asked why I get involved with organizations such as ASIST.  I once responded that I did so because the pay was so good.  Well, in terms of becoming part of something bigger than yourself, of having an influence on this professional society and on the profession, and hence on society itself, you can't beat the pay. So, come on in.  The paymaster is waiting, but the tasks that lie ahead must be worked on right away.  We may not finish the job during my tenure in office; but we must, so we will, stay the course and make good progress.

Donald H. Kraft is professor, Department of Computer Science, 298 Coates Hall, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 79803-4020; telephone: 225/578-2253; e-mail: kraft@bit.csc.lsu.edu

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