The ASIST meeting was held in the delightful city of New Orleans this fall. The format, as well as the dates for the meeting was quite different this year and I found it refreshing. This is usually a heavily academic meeting and I go to keep my ears open to the research and trends that the Information Science and Library Schools are talking about. Every now and then there is a nugget I can use to enhance our products and services.

This year the special things for me were:

  • Listening to the keynote presentation by Steve Kelling of the Cornell Ornithology Lab e-birds project. As an enthusiastic bird watcher myself, I was entranced by the idea of mashing up migration pattern data collected from a wealth of sites with the maps of Google earth at different times of day to see the movement of millions of critters throughout the day and months of the year. The Ornithology Lab has
    collected information from bird watchers worldwide for many years and this program expands all the options encouraging an active social network for contributors and watchers with validation of the sightings, sharing of information all of which provides a strong platform of data to be used in seeing global trends based on actual bird behavior. Of course, the photos are beautiful and the graphical presentation of the data is unparalleled.
  • The evening banquet has been replaced by a luncheon for award presentations and then Monday evening is the Presidents reception for all the attendees surrounded by 92, count ‘um, ninety two!, poster presentations. They provided all the participants “conversation cards” on the posters so the buzz in the hall was incredible. Heated discussions about the topics, the applications, the science behind the posters. People could just visit and eat in the center of the room or tour the posters around the edges of the large ballroom or both.

Another difference in this meeting was instead of one hour 3 speaker panel sessions they were 2 hours long and had from 2 – 6 speakers. This length of time allowed for more engagement during the sessions and presenters could get into the talks with more depth than the usual 15 minutes with 5 allowed for questions. Some were discussions about the direction of information science and what kinds of students the ischools (information science schools) should be turning out. Option A would be more teachers and researchers for the universities. Option B more general application background which could be hired into industry. As a practitioner I argued for more general applications. I told the audience (during the Q&A session) that I am a generalist and I need people who have a strong technical services background. I am often teaching remedial cataloging and classification to new hires so they will understand how and why we create taxonomies. There are not a lot of practitioners at ASIST these days but I still feel very comfortable with the group. There is a lot of continuing education for those of us in the field which can be gained at ASIST. I presented a workshop on the “Theory of Knowledge, Search and Taxonomies” It gives a theoretical structure for the implementation of the taxonomies, indexing and the implementation in search. After all, if we are not using them to make things more findable what are we creating them for?

I’ll go again next year!

Marjorie M.K. Hlava
President, Access Innovations