Connecting to the Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T)

Submitted by Debbie Malone, VAL Committee member: This blog post is one in a series of posts discussing the library value work being done by the ACRL Liaisons to non-library higher education organizations. We welcome Moriana Garcia, Denison University Libraries, who is ACRL liaison to the Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T).

I am the current ACRL-STS (Association of College and Research Libraries-Science and Technology Section) Liaison to ASIS&T (Association for Information Science & Technology), in the second year of my appointment. ASIS&T is an international organization for information professionals seeking to advance the information sciences and related applications. It was funded in 1937 and includes members from 50 different countries. This organization leads the search for theories and technologies to improve access to information by bringing together information science researchers and practitioners interested in solving common problems.

I have been a member of ASIS&T since 2008. I was first involved with my local chapter (Central Ohio-ASIS&T), and later moved to national appointments. I chaired the Special Interest Group – Scientific and Technical Information (SIG-STI) in 2012 and was elected Advisor to the ASIS&T SIG Cabinet Steering Committee –which coordinates all Special Interest Groups’ activities– in 2013. My leadership trajectory within ASIS&T has provided me with a strong platform from where to exercise my role as ACRL-STS Liaison to the organization.

In the last decade, ASIS&T has become the main venue for faculty and graduate students from Library and Information Science programs worldwide to discuss their research. Library and corporate practitioners, on the other hand, have become a minority. This shift in membership has made the ASIS&T meeting programs heavy on theoretical research but light on practical applications. However, the current ASIS&T leadership is truly invested in bringing back practitioners to the organization, as shown with the new conference focus on “Applied Research” added to the 2015 ASIS&T Meeting Program.

Becoming a Liaison to ASIS&T gave me an excellent opportunity to support the participation of academic librarians within the association. As part of my strategy, I organized a panel for the 2014 ASIS&T Annual Meeting (October 31-November 4, Seattle, WA) titled 3D Technologies: New Tools for Information Scientists to Engage, Educate and Empower Communities. This panel, sponsored by SIG-STI, included an array of public and academic librarians, information science researchers and museum practitioners, who discussed their experience working with three-dimensional (3D) technologies. Our main goal was to provide a broad understanding of the applications of 3D printing, scanning and design in libraries and museums, and how these technologies could be used to educate and empower local communities. By bringing together library practitioners and researchers, the panel modelled a truly effective partnership between both communities.

Another goal of the panel was to show examples of state-of-the-art services currently offered in libraries. By describing new academic collaborations among librarians, faculty, and students, achieved through the use of 3D technologies, the panel drew attention to our role in enhancing student learning. It also highlighted the transformative value that access to these innovative technologies brings to higher education. The panel was well received, gathering positive comments on the Twitter-verse. Most attendants assessed the panel as informative and relevant.

As an outcome of this panel, I am currently editing, in collaboration with Tod Colegrove (one of the panelists and ACRL-STS member), a special issue of the ASIS&T Bulletin dedicated to 3D technologies, to be published next Fall (2015). The Bulletin is a magazine directed to practitioners that shares news about the organization and topic-focused articles. With this special issue, we expect to support the scholarship efforts of our fellow panelists and other librarians/researchers working on the field.

In addition to being a panel moderator at the 2014 ASIS&T Meeting, I participated in the SIG Cabinet meeting, the SIG-STI Planning meeting and the ASIS&T Business meeting. Being an active member in the governance structure of ASIS&T keeps me abreast of the important challenges faced by our organization and the strategies implemented for their solution. It also allows me to remain visible and engaged with officers and administrators, expanding my professional network.

I also took part on a focus group organized by the ASIS&T Strategic Planning Team, one of the major initiatives of the new ASIS&T President-Elect. The focus group consisted of practitioners with 6 or more years of ASIS&T membership, who were invited to share their vision for the future of the association. The focus group was an ideal place to advocate for further engagement between theoreticians and librarians, and to argue that our experience working directly with users could and should inform research. Although the theoretical depth and intellectual richness of ASIS&T programs is what attracts many librarians to the organization, our participation in professional development events that do not generate an immediate outcome has become more difficult to justify lately. Supporting initiatives that foster collaboration among the different communities at ASIS&T is one of the strategies that might help with the retention of current practitioners, and the recruitment of new ones to the association.

Several programs presented at the 2014 ASIS&T Meeting captured my attention. The main keynote speaker was Kris Kutchera (Vice President of Information Technology and Strategy Management at Alaska Air Group). Her presentation focused on how innovation, which depends on sustained investment in people and technology, drives high performance results for companies. She described the difficulties of attracting talented information technology candidates, advocating for more STEM education initiatives at the Primary School level. The second keynote speaker was Alessandro Acquisti (Associate Professor of Information Technology and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University). His lecture addressed privacy in the age of augmented reality, describing how commercial companies influence our online decision making, and revealing deeper links between privacy and security. He gave some examples on how interested parties exploring “big data” practices can obtain inferable sensitive information from anonymous information on social networking sites.

Another series of papers during the ASIS&T 2014 Meeting explored the social role of documents, showing, for example, how printed encyclopedias were used in the past as tools for identity construction and the placement of external memories, and how those emotional components have changed with online versions like Wikipedia. Data preservation and management was also a popular topic during the meeting, with several programs focused on the subject. More information is available in the online Proceedings

My latest initiative as Liaison is to organize for the coming year a webinar on Electronic Lab Notebooks co-sponsored by ASIS&T SIG-STI and the ACRL-STS Hot Topics Discussion Group. The webinar will be presented by Kristin Bogdan, Science and Social Science Data Librarian at Yale University. It will use the ASIS&T Webinar platform, where it will remain archived and publicly available.

I am truly committed to my role as ACRL-STS Liaison to ASIS&T and to the promotion of library practitioners as valuable professionals in the information science arena. As a result of my efforts, I hope to see more programs targeted to librarians in future ASIS&T meetings, and to strengthen the connection between both organizations.

Moriana L. M. Garcia, Natural Sciences Liaison Librarian, Denison University Libraries.

This entry was posted in Communicating Value. Bookmark the permalink.