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|From the Chair|
It is hard to believe that another whole year of OBS-time is approaching its high point, namely the annual meeting, when many of us have the good fortune to meet and interact in person. In preparation, it is time for another update on what has been happening with OBS and what will be happening in Minneapolis in July. I am writing this at the very beginning of May, but by the time you read this, it will be June and you'll be getting ready to go to convention. Since this is a combined issue of TSLL, I will take this opportunity to recap the activities of OBS during the past six months as well as to try to psych you up for the OBS events to take place in Minneapolis.
OBS was blessed with another excellent slate of candidates for the election, which took place in April. I want to thank all of the candidates on behalf of OBS. Each has contributed a great deal to OBS already, so it is wonderful that they are willing to go even further and run for office. Thanks for the hard work in developing the slate go to Jack Bissett, OBS Nominations Committee Chair, who was ably assisted by Pam Deemer and Sue Roach. Now that the excitement has built, here are your newly elected officers:
Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect: Mary Jane Kelsey
Secretary-Treasurer: Richard Jost
Member-at-Large: Judy Vaughan-Sterling
Congratulations and welcome to all!
Many thanks to those of you who responded to the OBS survey! Ismael Gullon (Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect) has compiled the results for publication in TSLL. Conducting the survey is very time and energy-consuming (thanks Ismael!) The results have been shared with the OBS Board and Committee chairs. The survey solicits feedback on OBS activities and this informs the planning process among your officers, as well as the strategic planning process now underway (more on that later). The OBS survey and volunteer form will remain on the OBS website. We are always happy to receive your input about OBS, so please fill it out if you have not done so. We would be especially glad to have you volunteer your services to OBS. The only downside is that you are no longer eligible for the prize drawing. Michael Maben won the lovely afghan made by Susan Chinoransky. Congrats Michael and thanks Susan!
The schedules for the educational programs, workshops, meetings and events to take place in Minneapolis are on AALLNET. In terms of SIS meeting times, OBS was fortunate to get all the slots we requested. We did our best to avoid major conflict with TS-SIS meetings, but a certain amount was unavoidable as usual. OBS sponsors or co-sponsors a number of programs, as well as one workshop. The AALLNET schedule does not include this sponsorship information, but if you are interested, look on the OBS website at: http://www.aallnet.org/sis/obssis/meet2001.htm.
Education Committee Speaking of education, planning for the 2002 annual meeting is gearing up. Program planning is a difficult process and the sooner it gets started, the better. At the OBS Board meeting last July in Philadelphia, I proposed a change to the OBS education planning process, which the Board approved. The OBS Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect is also the Education Committee chair. I do not propose to change that, but just to change the timeline that person operates under in order to make the process smoother.
To explain, let me describe what has happened with the OBS program planning process until now, using last year's situation as an example. As the Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, I conducted the annual OBS membership survey and compiled the results in February 2000. I made a list of people who had volunteered to be on the Education Committee. However, I did not know who would chair the Committee, as the newly elected Vice-Chair does this and we would not know who that was until May 2000. (I had chaired the previous year's OBS Education Committee as soon as I was elected Vice-Chair in May 1999.) Ismael Gullon was elected Vice-Chair in May 2000 and immediately I handed him a list of Education Committee members' names and a pile of information I had accumulated from my experience the previous year.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the deadline for program proposals is mid-August. In terms of a timeline, that means Ismael had about 2 ½ months to form the Education Committee, get the word out, get the proposals down on the forms, and submit them to AALL headquarters—an enormous amount of work in a very short timeframe! And these are summer months, when people naturally take vacations and when July is basically consumed by the actual AALL meeting. Ismael and last year's Education Committee did a fine job as the list of OBS programs for 2001 clearly shows.
My objection to the timeline has nothing to do with the outcome, which have been many fine OBS programs at the AALL annual meeting in the past few years. But I think that is more a testament to the amazing ability of OBS Education Committee chairs and members to overcome a difficult situation than an endorsement of the process. My goal with this proposed change is to make the process less rushed for all involved. How will this happen?
Change: For this year, the Education Committee was formed in March 2001, with Ismael and myself as co-chairs. This will double the time for the Committee to form, get acquainted, get the word out, and begin getting program proposals down on paper. In May 2001, when the new Vice-Chair is elected, she will join the Committee to see how it works, but not in the role of chair, who is completely responsible for getting all proposals ranked and submitted by the mid-August deadline. Ismael and I will be doing that. The new Vice-Chair will instead chair the next year's Education Committee, whose work can again begin in February or March 2002, or perhaps even earlier, depending on when the request for volunteer members goes out.
This will be the new approach for the OBS Education Committee. The problem occurs in this "bridge" year, which is why Ismael and I will co-chair the current Education Committee. I feel very strongly about this being a change for the better, so I am backing it up by pitching in. Luckily Ismael agreed! In terms of program planning, logic says that when the Education Committee meets during the annual meeting in July, the program proposals should be just about finished. That is not the time to start planning a proposal due in a month or less. We all know this makes sense, but it has not always worked out that way in the past and some of the frantic work right up until the proposal deadline has been incredible, but most likely avoidable. I hope this change will make it easier for OBS to better conduct program planning. I know of at least one other SIS that handles education in this manner and swears by it.
As I write this in very early May, the OBS Education Committee is formed and operating. To date, all volunteers have confirmed that they are willing to be active participants in the process, Ismael has shared program ideas from the OBS survey and examples of successful proposals from last year's work with the group, each member is carefully perusing the program material available on AALLNET, and e-mail discussions of program ideas are being exchanged. Tim Knight is OBS' liaison from the AALL 2002 Annual Meeting Program Committee and he has already been in touch with us to offer his assistance. In other words, we are already hard at work! If you have a program idea, please contact any member of the OBS Education Committee: David Bryant, Susan Chinoransky, Cindy Cicco, Pam Deemer, Susan Goldner, Janet Ann Hedin, Mary Jane Kelsey, Ismael Gullon (co-chair) , and Ellen McGrath (co-chair).
There has been a change in the coordinator of the OBS/TS Research Roundtable. LeGrande Fletcher and Becky Lutkenhaus co-coordinated the Roundtable in Philadelphia last year, though Chris Long substituted for LeGrande during the actual meeting. Unfortunately both LeGrande and Becky have had to step down from this role. LeGrande has also had to give up the TSLL "Research and Publications" column. That's the bad news. But the good news is that Brian Striman has agreed to take on both these tasks, coordinating the Roundtable for Minneapolis and writing the column. For those of you who may not know, Brian founded both these activities originally and he is thought of by many as synonymous with them. Reading Brian's column is always inspiring and often amusing and the high level of energy he brings to the Roundtable meetings is unsurpassed. If you have never attended, I would encourage you to do so this year.
On a related note, Brian has also agreed to become Chair of the OBS/TS Joint Research Grant Committee. (Thanks Brian!) He will replace current Chair, Corinne Jacox, when she steps down in July. Corinne has done an amazing job of publicizing the grant and coordinating the process over the past few years. She really got the grant process on its feet with the help of Committee members: Georgia Briscoe, Ruth Patterson Funabiki, Rosemary Hahn, Julie Stauffer, and Richard Amelung (ex-officio). Thanks to all for their efforts on this important grant work. And special thanks to Corinne for going way above and beyond!
A lot has been happening behind-the-scenes on the strategic planning front all year. There have been personnel changes. Becky Lutkenhaus stepped down from the OBS Strategic Planning Committee, as she left law librarianship. Mila Rush has stepped in and has done a great job, with Chair Sally Wambold's help, of getting up to speed quickly and contributing immediately to the Committee's discussions. As a quick review, the members of the Committee are: Sally Wambold (Chair), Pat Callahan, Karin den Bleyker, Janet Ann Hedin, LaJean Humphries, Sue Roach (advisory), Mila Rush, Brian Striman, Ismael Gullon, and myself (ex officio). Please contact anyone on the Committee if you have thoughts about the OBS strategic plan. Gail Warren's expertise on the strategic planning process has been invaluable and she continues to counsel the Committee when we get stuck, which does happen now and then.
Sally has done a beautiful job of keeping the Committee on track, on time, and in touch with each other. The environmental scan (survey) results were compiled and distributed to the Committee, followed by the results of the regular OBS member survey. Discussion of OBS' mission statement has been resolved and work on the plan itself is underway as of the beginning of May. OBS will follow AALL's model in terms of structure of our strategic plan. This means we will use the same terminology: strategic directions, outcomes, and initiatives. The AALL plan is available on AALLNET at: http://www.aallnet.org/about/strategic_plan.asp.
As I write this, the Committee is discussing three strategic directions for OBS. This includes the outcomes (what do we want to happen?) and the initiatives (how can we make it happen?). We are focussing on what can realistically be accomplished in the next 3-year period, but we will push to make sure that OBS is challenging itself and moving ahead. I want to thank Sally for her dedication to this project. It becomes clearer every day that she is indeed the absolute best choice for this task. Sally's experience in OBS, her great ability to focus and her superb organizational skills are of great benefit to her colleagues on the Committee as well as OBS as a whole. The strategic plan will be presented at the OBS Business Meeting in Minneapolis in July. So be sure to attend and be the first to know where OBS is heading!
I mentioned in my last column that the OBS brochure was going to be redesigned with the assistance of AALL HQ. As OBS' financial picture came into sharper view at the close of the calendar year, the OBS Board discussed this and decided it would be best to postpone the brochure work. This was dictated in part by the need to pay for more than one year of past TSLLs out of this year's budget. We can continue to use the current brochure and update the content as necessary. It will not have a highly polished look, but it will work fine. The OBS brochure is mainly used for distribution at the CONELL Marketplace, at the OBS table in the activities area of the annual meeting exhibit hall, and to new or potential OBS members.
I have tried to keep you informed of OBS activities and other information via the OBS-SIS electronic list throughout this year. I know that many of you also subscribe to the TS-SIS e-list and that some of my messages are duplicated there. I realize such duplication can be annoying, but please keep in mind that many OBS members are not subscribed to other lists and this may be their only way to obtain such information.
OBS will be busy during the AALL annual meeting in Minneapolis, July 14-19, 2001. Please check the OBS website as you prepare for your trip: http://www.aallnet.org/sis/obssis/. Important OBS meeting and program information is posted there for your convenience. Thanks to OBS' Webmaster, Maria Okonska, for her speed in getting such material up. OBS will once again co-sponsor the Joint ("Alphabet Soup") Reception on Saturday evening from 6:00-7:30 PM, along with TS, RIPS, and CS. Please come and meet your friends and make new ones. It's always a fun time. Susan Chinoransky (Member-at-Large) has participated in the planning of the reception on behalf of OBS (thanks Susan!).
OBS will have a table in the Activities Area of the Exhibit Hall. The paperback swap will be there, so be sure to bring your already-read books to drop off. Then you can pick up a new one to read between meetings, on the plane, or wherever. But you don't need to drop one off to pick one up. Come and check it out. Then you can see the other goodies at the table too: OBS key tags and brochures, the Law Library Systems Directory, informative handouts, candy, etc. And if you are really lucky, you will get to meet some members of OBS while you are at the table. I think their professionalism, knowledge, and enthusiasm will impress you, as it has me.
As you may already know, there will be some changes taking place after this issue in the leadership of this newsletter. TSLL is essential to OBS and TS. It is our voice to each other and to the world, including our members, AALL, other SISs, and other library associations. Anna Belle Leiserson and Linda Tesar have done an excellent job as editors of TSLL. The content and professional look of our newsletter is wonderful. And the team currently in place is responsible for this: Anna Belle and Linda, Cindy May (Business Manager), Martin Wisneski (Webmaster), and the numerous contributing editors (too many to mention here—please see the TSLL staff list in every issue). Putting out a terrific newsletter is no easy task, but all these people have spent hours and hours of their own time doing just that in order to benefit all of us. Please join me in thanking them all and especially Linda and Anna Belle as they complete their three year term as editors,
I admit to a sense of panic when I first heard the news, but almost immediately, Joe Thomas graciously volunteered to be the new editor of TSLL. Welcome Joe! And Linda Tesar is not leaving, but will step into the new role of Layout Editor. Cindy, Martin, and the contributing editors will be continuing in their roles. Thanks to all for your past and future work.
Where has the time gone since I embarked on my journey as OBS Chair last July? I haven't a clue. I realized my year as Chair would be busy—and it has been. What I didn't know was how amazing you all are, you, the members of OBS. I had an inkling from the year before when I was Vice-Chair and when I was Member-at-Large before that. But this year, it really hit home for me. I know it's a cliché, but OBS is its members.
There are so many names listed in this column alone. These are all OBS members who stepped up. They volunteered for a Committee or for a task or they said yes when I asked them to do something. And they are only the tip of the iceberg. I have mentioned other names in earlier columns. We all participate in some way by paying dues, reading this newsletter and this column, answering surveys, voting in the election, responding to messages on the OBS e-list, serving on Committees, etc.
Why do we do it? Why do we give so much of our time and effort to OBS? That's the question that keeps popping into my mind. It's not like we don't have other things to do. The pace of my cataloging job has increased so much since I entered the profession many years ago that it sometimes scares me. I have the constant feeling that I'm working as fast as I can just to keep from getting too far behind where I am. I long ago gave up the idea of actually being ahead on anything. I assume it is the same for all of us to some degree.
So why do we do it? I have no other answer except that we value OBS and our fellow OBS members. And it's no wonder. I have met people in OBS that simply leave me awestruck. They handle their daily jobs beautifully, both the functional and the management aspects. They hire, train, and supervise staff, adjust workflow, and take on new responsibilities constantly. They do research and write for publication. They make presentations at and propose programs for all sorts of professional meetings. They ponder important issues about our profession, they are visionaries. They even have families and full lives away from work. And perhaps most importantly of all, they like what they do and it shows. Their enthusiasm is infectious.
So that's why I do it—why I expend my time and effort on OBS. If I didn't, I would have missed the chance to meet and get to know my fellow OBS members. Their inspiration and collegiality sustains me in the face of the overwhelming changes we are all experiencing in our profession. I would be lost without them. I know that any further talk of a possible merger of OBS has been postponed until the new OBS strategic plan is complete and in place. But I do feel it is important that I convey a sense of the incredible energy that I see OBS members investing in this Section. After all, the Chair has a very unique vantagepoint. So even though content areas may overlap with other SISs, the current membership total of OBS is 348 and there are a number of people within OBS who have specifically chosen to devote a great deal of their time and energy to OBS. This should not be taken lightly.
I want to close with a sincere thank you to the members of the OBS Executive Board: Georgia Briscoe, Susan Chinoransky, Cindy Cicco, Ismael Gullon, and Brian Striman. I can't express how much I value their hard work and wise counsel! I would also like to thank the Committee Chairs: Susan Goldner (Local Systems), Michael Maben (OCLC), Anne Myers (RLIN), Education (Ismael Gullon), Web Advisory (Maria Okonska), Nominations (Jack Bissett), and Joint Research Grant (Corinne Jacox). Thank you also to Richard Jost and Ruth Patterson Funabiki for representing OBS on the TSLL Editorial Board. Thanks to you—the members of OBS—you are a great bunch! I hope to see many of you in Minneapolis.