State of the Society

Presented by

Eugene Garfield
Chairman Emeritus, ISIâ
Publisher, The Scientistâ
3501 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Tel. 215-243-2205
Fax 215-387-1266
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American Society for Information Science & Technology Annual Meeting
November 14, 2000


Welcome to the American Society for Information Science and Technology! This has been a significant year for us. When I spoke to you just one year ago in Washington, few members were aware of the precipitous drop in membership for over 15 years. Today, it is possible to say that membership is on a small upward slope. Hopefully, this trend will continue as we make our programs, SIGs, and publications more relevant. Even another year without a loss in membership would be encouraging. There is a large turnover in membership each year, so it is unwise to become complacent.


.            .     1996    1997    1998    1999    2000
Begin     2866     2724     2581     2429      2502
Drop    - 606    - 535    - 488    - 262    - 402
New    - 464      392      336      335      501
Net     2724     2581     2429     2502     2583
Net Change    - 142    - 143    - 152    +  73    +  99
About one or two percent and more members may renew by year end.

Since the beginning of the year, I have published bi-monthly reports in the Bulletin which were also posted on the ASIS website.,,, They have covered six significant areas: membership, meetings, publications, finances, SIGS, and our name change,

When I first joined the Board, the financial picture of the society was bleak indeed. Consequently, we cut headquarters staff expenses by approximately $100K per year. One of the three major sources of revenue for the society is meetings. The low attendance at the Pasadena mid-year meeting impacted our budget severely. That in part led to the decision to eliminate mid-year meetings that included governance activities. In view of this, it is essential that we augment communication between national meetings, whether by our website and listserves, email, and the Bulletin especially at the SIG and chapter levels.

Meetings Revenues

In contrast to the Pasadena Meeting, the Washington Annual Meeting contributed approximately $100,000 to the bottom line. Our first mid-year summit meeting in Boston dedicated to Information Architecture not only produced significant net revenues of about $90,000 but also 50 new members. It also led to a new SIG-IA which has a listserve to which 1300 people subscribe. Remarkably, only about 10% are members of ASIS&T. Hopefully we can recruit many of these people.

Another significant factor in reversing our losses was the renegotiation of the contract with our publisher which produces an additional annual $100K royalty.

Name Change

During this period of financial turmoil, we also debated the name change proposal. Subsequently, by a 70% majority we opted to change our name to American Society for Information Science and Technology. By an 85% vote, we also changed our constitution to reduce the required majority to 67%.

The publication program of the society consists of 5 primary elements: JASIS, Bulletin of ASIS, ARIST, Proceedings of ASIS, and monographs.

JASIS Royalty

Until last year, JASIS was a significant financial drain on the society since we pay for every member copy. The renegotiated contract not only provides an increase from the previous 5% to a 20% royalty per year, it also gives us an incentive to increase library subscriptions, a large number of which were lost during the years when prices were increased inordinately. Hopefully, we can recover those library subscribers first as institutional members, and then eventually convert them to full subscribers with site licenses that include institution-wide access to the 15-year electronic archive.

Electronic JASIS AND CrossRef

The electronic edition of JASIS was launched this year and is well worth your investigation. Wiley is a member of the publisher consortium that provides the CrossRef Service. Fewer than 10% of members have so far adopted the electronic option for the journal. Perhaps CrossRef will be the stimulus to increase that number. Only a small number have opted for both editions for the extra $25.

All student members receive the electronic edition free. This saves us considerable revenue. Speaking of students, we recently voted to allow students to continue the subsidized student rate of $30 until they leave school. In the past, less than 5% of our student members converted to full membership by the time they graduated.

Membership Recruitment

The Membership Committee has been asked to emphasize the recruitment of institutional members. However, this is a task that every member should think about. If your employer or suppliers are potential institutional members, then help us recruit them.


The society receives a $20,000 yearly advance on royalties for ARIST regardless of its sales. Unless there is a radical change in circulation, that will not change. ARIST experienced significant changes in the past year. After more than 25 years as editor, Martha Williams retired. Blaise Cronin and Debora Shaw of Indiana University have assumed editorship. The first volume under their tutelage will be published early next year.

Our monograph publication program produces net income of $3-5,000. ASIS&T assumes no risk in this arrangement, but for the time being, we can’t look to it for significant revenue.

Bulletin of ASIS

Finally, there is our Bulletin, ably edited by Irene Travis, which I believe provides an extremely important service. It is provided entirely free of charge and appears bi-monthly. Many of its articles have received excellent reviews. Hopefully, the Bulletin’s frequency could be changed to monthly, supplemented by weekly or daily website updates. In short, the Bulletin needs to be in real time. Its main content should provide applied information science and technology as implied by our society’s new title and mission.

A lot still needs to be done in re-energizing and re-engineering the SIGs and Chapters. Mike Stallings produced a report on the status of the SIGs.

RFP for Outside Management

Managing the finances of our society must be constantly reviewed. Many small societies today have difficulty competing not only with the Internet but also with changing societal pressures. The costs to run a society continue to increase. Therefore, many seek alliances with other organizations to reduce costs. Another route is to use an outside management firm to reduce overhead. We put out an RFP for bids but the Board decided that this year would not be the best time to go ahead in view of the complexities and new image associated with our name change. However, we expect to continue to review this question.

Conclusion and Future Challenges

When I first joined ADI in 1952, our vision of the world of information was inspired by visionaries such as Paul Otlet, Watson Davis, H.G. Wells, Vannevar Bush, and others. Through the years, especially after the change of name to ASIS in 1968, this vision of a world brain began to be realized by advances in information technology – punched cards, computers, online access, and more recently, the Internet. We have certainly come much closer to information nirvana. However, we are only in the early stages of the information revolution. Information overload has increased significantly as we have improved information access. The information economy has impacted ordinary people who speak about "search engines," and crawlers unaware that we have been designing and testing search engines for decades. They have never heard of ASIS&T or information retrieval. The educational challenge of the information world is enormous. Universities and other institutions face serious problems in teaching students, faculty, and alumni the full potential of the Internet and myriad databases. We can take great pride in the successes of information science over the past 50 years. But those very successes have led to a whole new series of challenges, not the least of which were reflected in our debate over the name change. We information professionals need to provide leadership for the new information economy as long ago described by Fritz Machlup and others. As a society, we cannot take up these challenges unless we remain financially healthy.

Mission Statement and Vision

In June, a Board Task Force was assembled with Doug Kaylor as Chair. They prepared thefollowing Mission Statement:

The mission of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
is to provide information professionals and organizations that develop, use, or study information with focus, opportunity, and support to advance the information sciences and related applications of information technology.

As a professional society, our vision is to establish a new information professionalism in a world where creating and communicating information is of central economic, social, and political importance by:

· Advancing knowledge about information, its creation, properties, and use.

· Providing analysis of practices and technologies

· Valuing theory, research, applications, and service

· Nurturing new perspectives, interests, and ideas.

So to close, let me reiterate – it has been a great and satisfying year. I want to thank all of you who have helped me meet this challenge, but in particular, Past Presidents Candy Schwartz and Jim Cretsos.

For Joe Busch’s introduction:

Now it gives me great pleasure to turn the gavel of the American Society for Information Science and Technology over to your new president Joe Busch who officially takes office Thursday afternoon. I know that he is dedicated to improving the health and influence of the society not only by encouraging new young leaders but in other innovative ways as well.