Letter from the Executive Director (September 2019)

The start of fall is always a nice moment for me to reflect on how things have gone at NISO, since I initially started with NISO on September 1, 2006. Now some 13 years on, a lot has changed. NISO has grown significantly in terms of membership, with more than twice the number of members than in 2006. NISO has expanded our programming as well with more than 40 programs per year. We have more standards projects underway as well as more published standards and best practices, and more volunteers contributing to those development efforts.

What has been most gratifying has been maintaining these trends while our community has radically shifted in so many ways over that time. Of the members of NISO back in 2006, about one quarter have subsequently merged or ceased operating, and another quarter have withdrawn their membership for a variety of reasons. And yet in spite of these transformations and turbulent times in our community, we have remained vibrant, adding dozens of new organizations and more than a hundred new libraries to our community. With the merger of NFAIS earlier this year, we welcomed another couple dozen more new members, along with new programs and new initiatives. We continue to make progress and continue to serve the entire landscape of information creation, dissemination, management and preservation.
One of these exciting new initiatives within NISO is, actually, the continuation of a long and storied tradition of NFAIS. We are very pleased to announce that we have settled on the broad outlines of the upcoming annual conference. The inaugural NISO Plus Conference will be held in Baltimore on February 23-25, 2020. The concept behind this new NISO Plus Conference is the combination of NFAIS Plus NISO; the bringing together of publishers Plus libraries; of connecting users Plus services; mixing the practical Plus the cutting edge. The Conference will continue many of the traditions of NFAIS, such as the Miles Conrad Lecture series, but also add the practical discussions around solving community problems that NISO is known for.

The NISO Plus Conference encapsulates broadly the rationale that brought our two organizations together and the diverse community that we collectively serve and plan to attract to the conference. We will build on the long tradition of convening and facilitating the thought leadership that NFAIS traditionally supported at its annual conference. We will also be adding more practical application elements, along with a multi-track small group discussion structure that will allow for significant participant interaction. In the coming weeks, we will be distributing more information about the specifics, but I’m asking you all to "save the date" to ensure you can add the time into your travel schedules. We are also pleased to announce that there will be a significant reduction in the overall costs to participate in the conference from the past years. Average rates for the conference will be in the $500-600 range, as compared to the $800-900 range in previous years, and we have secured a hotel rate of approximately $130 per night. This will combine to make participating in the conference much more budget friendly. Specifics and the outline of the program will be announced later this month. We look forward to welcoming you and your colleagues this February in Baltimore. It will be informative and it will be practical. Dare I say, it will also be magical. Literally. There will be magic. You won’t want to miss it.

Additionally, NISO has launched several other initiatives, including a members-only NFAIS Foresight program later this month, as well as two Focus Group projects to incubate new standards activity related to the topics of Open Access and Linked Data. This is in addition to the three new standards working groups launched this summer. While much of the world was enjoying a blissful summer holiday, the NISO staff has been working overtime to get pieces into place for an amazing year.  Who ever said the number 13 was bad luck, didn’t anticipate the year that NISO would be having from now to next September. It’s going to be fun.


Todd Carpenter
Executive Director, NISO