Bulletin, December/January 2006
2006 ASIS&T President
Director, Physics Research Library,
Head of Collection Development, Cabot Science Library,
leach at physics.harvard.edu; mrleach at fas.harvard.edu
Normally, this being my first
column in the Bulletin as your President, I would be writing about such
topics as our upcoming goals for this year or what my vision is. Well, even if
you have not heard about the five-year strategic plan or the efforts to expand
our Society further into the international arena, you can find most of those
details on the ASIS&T website or check the archives of ASIS-L for
announcements. I won't repeat those details here. Instead, I want to talk
about communities - and our roles in communities.
of us belongs to a number of communities. On the local level, we may participate
in a religious community, serve in our local government or play on a sports
team. We may also meet a group of friends regularly for a game of bridge, to
discuss books or to enjoy the culinary delights of a nearby restaurant. If we
have children, we may be serving on a local school parents' organization,
coaching a football team (I'm thinking soccer here) or leading a group
of scouts on a hike (my preference). Regardless of what the community is,
we each participate in one or more. Why?
share in the mission, goals and activities of each of these communities with our
fellow members. Ideally, this sharing is fun, challenging and meaningful.
Participating in a community provides purpose in our lives. There may be
tangible benefits to being part of a community, but more often than not, there
are more intangibles to consider - making new friends; providing service to
fellow members of our community without expecting remuneration; creating shared
memories; challenging each other to strive for high goals, to live according to
high ideals; etc.
our communities, there are various roles we can assume - ways in which we can
participate with the others in our community. At times, we can be the leaders in
our community - coaching, inspiring, guiding, etc. At other times, we are the
followers - supporting, fulfilling, initiating, etc. Both roles are important - it is no surprise that one cannot be a leader without followers, and
followers without leaders is a state of anarchy (despite what team management
says). Regardless of our roles at any given time, we all have something to
do, something to accomplish in our communities.
you may be wondering why I have gone philosophical on you with this column. In
essence, I want you to take a step back and look at your reasons for
participating in this community called ASIS&T. Before we dive into the
nitty-gritty details of supporting and enacting our five-year strategic plan, I
want to be sure you remember why each of us is participating in this endeavor,
in this community. Do you share in the mission; do you share in the goals; do
you share in the activities? Are you having fun doing this? Are you challenged
at times? Is your participation in this community meaningful for you?
is not a company that sells a product or service – it is a community. You
don't just pay a (membership) fee and get "x" or "y" – some tangible
deliverable - in return. Joining ASIS&T is not the same as joining a
frequent flyer program of some airline. Joining ASIS&T is not the same as
becoming a card-carrying member of Barnes & Noble so you can receive a 15%
discount on book purchases. Frequent flyer programs and product discounts are
not communities, but ASIS&T is.
me ask one more question of you: Can you be a part of a community if you do
nothing at all with or for that community? More specifically: What do you see as
your role in this community called ASIS&T?
could use this point of my column to list the many openings on committees,
officer positions for SIGs, authoring opportunities for our publications, etc.,
that are currently available in our ASIS&T community - chances for you to
play a role, to participate, to be active. Rather, at this point, I just want
you to think - to ponder and to contemplate. Take a moment to step back from
the frantic pace of our lives and to consider why we are doing the things we do,
in the communities we choose to be a part of.
future Bulletin columns and elsewhere I will talk about specific
opportunities - roles, activities and programs for participation. There will
be lists; there will be calls for participation; etc. But not at this very
your leader for the coming year, know that when I call for your participation in
our community, I am not just asking you to do "x" or accomplish "y" –
rather, I am hoping you will take time to get to know the members of your
community, have fun with them, derive some meaning from this collective activity
and be challenged. That is how I approach my role in this community, and that is
why I have taken time to write about communities.
ASIS&T Philosopher President) Leach
P.S. Many of you will find out (if you haven't already) that while I am a manager by profession who takes his responsibilities seriously, I do have a sense of humor, too. And I don't bite. So, feel free to email me, call me on the phone, bump into me on the train (that has happened) and tell me what you think, how you are feeling and what great ideas you have for ASIS&T (and the world in general).
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