We are very fortunate to have the Association of Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) as our ongoing sponsor. Every year, Vanessa Foss, Director of Membership and Meeting, and Richard Hill, Executive Director, work behind the scenes to guarantee a successful summit. We simply couldn’t do it without them. When you see them in Vancouver, don’t be shy about saying hello and thank you!
What is ASIS&T about?
The Association for Information Science and Technology, or ASIS&T, is a professional association for information scientists. An information scientist is any professional who works with, researches about, or learns the management of information in any form. This could include a librarian, a web developer, a professor, an information architect … the list goes on! Among other things, ASIS&T seeks to bridge the gap between practitioners, researchers and students.
What else does ASIS&T do besides organize the IA Summit?
ASIST provides its members with ways to keep current and stay in touch with colleagues. The association holds an Annual Meeting every fall that features the latest research and ideas in information science research. It provides webinars free to members. It has lively presences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and its own blog. It also publishes a highly respected peer-reviewed journal, an informal bi-monthly newsletter, and interesting books.
How and why did ASIS&T start the IA Summit?
ASIS&T organized and held the inaugural IA Summit in Boston in 2000 after reading Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville’s first Polar Bear book and recognizing the strong congruence between ASIS&T’s traditional substance areas (indexing, metadata, controlled vocabularies, search behavior, etc.) and the IA domain that Lou and Peter advanced.
The Polar Bear book appeared as ASIS&T was looking to return to its roots in the practical, applied worlds (versus the primarily theoretical), roots that had somewhat withered with the closing of many corporate research facilities (Bell Labs, Xerox PARC, etc.) and other economic and corporate changes.
What was the first IA Summit like?
The inaugural IA Summit met at an airport hotel over a weekend, so people could join it with minimal time away from their offices or work. From this very first gathering of IAs, it was clear that this was a strong community with strong ideas about what it wanted from such a meeting. ASIS&T realized that it needed to facilitate but not try to dictate or control it.
What does ASIS&T do for the IA Summit now?
That first meeting 17 years ago has morphed from an event directed by ASIS&T to one organized by the community. ASIS&T does the things that volunteers should not have to be bothered with: signing contracts and making guarantees, working with the hotel for catering and meals, planning and ordering AV equipment, and so on. Meanwhile, the volunteer planning committee — drawn each year from the IA community — works on the program substance, the conference’s look and feel, and the social experience. This model works — everyone learns and has fun!
Where does ASIS&T see the event going in the future?
ASIS&T wants to make sure that the IA Summit meets the needs of those who attend it, and will continue to provide support as it does now. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! In fact, some of ASIS&T’s members who regularly attend the Annual Meeting are planning to be at this year’s IA Summit to bridge the gap between the events.