To the Editor:
I was thrilled to read in the June/July issue of the Bulletin of the appointment of Irene Travis as editor. Knowing of her expertise in the organization of information (a special interest of mine), I expected to see an emphasis on this aspect of information science in the Bulletin under Dr. Travis' editorship, and I have not been disappointed.
The October/November issue, devoted to metadata, was fabulous; the clearly written articles are suitable for both practitioners and students of library and information science. It struck me that one could learn more about the state of the art of organizing Internet resources by devoting a few hours to systematic reading of this issue than by spending hundreds of hours on listservs devoted to the topic.
This issue of the Bulletin reached me within a few days of my copies of the latest LITA Newsletter (vol. 18 no. 4, Fall 1997) and the ALCTS Newsletter (vol. 8 no. 5, 1997). Both serials are organs of divisions of the American Library Association: the Library and Information Technology Association and the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (the latter is primarily concerned with cataloging). The LITA Newsletter announced (on the cover) "This is the last paper issue . . .," and the ALCTS Newsletter announced a Board decision to develop a plan for its discontinuance in print form. Neither of these newsletters is as extensive as the Bulletin, but they include useful conference summaries and occasional full-length articles on timely topics, which would not be convenient to read on a screen.
Two prominent members of LITA, Walt Crawford and Michael Gorman, have written a book entitled Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness, & Reality, whose major thesis is that print will not disappear because it is the most suitable medium for sustained reading. Although the American Library Association published this book (in 1995), the divisions of ALA most concerned with information technology and the organization of information do not seem to have absorbed its message.
There have in the past been proposals to replace ASIS' printed serials by electronic publications, but I hope that this error will not be made. In reading the October/November Bulletin (complete with color graphics), my thought was: "Print is the perfect medium for this twenty-five page overview of metadata; the ASIS Web site, in contrast, is the place to provide the latest information on the Society's conferences."
A week before the 1997 Annual Meeting, I needed to know the scheduled times of the conference's social events, in order to firm up some evening appointments. I accessed the ASIS Web site and was surprised not to find this information, although the final program had surely been printed at that point. I was further surprised to find obsolete information on the Web page devoted to the Annual Meeting, notably Instructions for Authors of Contributed Papers, which were due on June 1, 1997.
In the Aug./Sept. 1997 issue of the Bulletin (p. 4), I noted the ad for a volunteer ASIS Web editor. I hope that the person who assumes this position will have a clear understanding of the categories of information that are best suited to the electronic medium, as well as good organizing, presentation and editorial skills.
Bella Hass Weinberg
St. John's University