Supporting The Community Amidst Change

Letter from the Executive Director, July 2020

NISO’s annual meeting is an opportunity for the community, and particularly for me, to reflect on the previous year’s activities and how much we have accomplished. The past 18 months have been a whirlwind of change for our organization. While I was disappointed that we had to “go virtual” with the annual meeting, as with everything else this spring, it worked out well. We had more than 75 people join us for this year’s event, and there was a lot of engagement from the participants. If you weren’t able to participate on Friday, you can view the video, which is now available. 

Part of the meeting looked back at the many things we accomplished, including the finalization of our merger with NFAIS and changes to our bylaws, the addition of two new staff to NISO, and the successful launch of the NISO Plus Conference in February. Some of these things are ongoing, such as the NISO Plus 2020 Outputs and Next Steps report, which has been published today. More importantly, the meeting also focused on NISO’s future and where we’re headed. For example, how will we take the potential project ideas outlined in that report and bring some of them into the world? Our other successes over the past year position us well to achieve great things in the coming months and years ahead, even in the face of the pandemic. NISO’s work has always been primarily a virtual activity, and we continue to advance our work, notably with the release of several new project milestones this month. 

In large part, the meeting on Friday was forward-looking. The Board agreed on a new set of strategic priorities, which I touched on briefly here earlier this year. At its meeting in May, the Board further defined these areas of focus and agreed on a definitive list of activities and performance metrics for each area. The Board identified four key areas of focus that will drive NISO’s organizational restructuring over the next three-plus years. The first of these is the need to build diversity and inclusion into our efforts. NISO should be recognized for connecting diverse stakeholders, from underrepresented groups, but also from communities that haven’t traditionally engaged in NISO’s work. Building on the NFAIS tradition of thought leadership, NISO will continue to drive innovation by spotting, adapting to, and integrating trends in the information marketplace into meaningful outputs for the community. NISO will also continue to develop impactful standards and best practices that build efficiency in the market. Finally, NISO will build on these efforts through community development and training. NISO will nurture an engaged, inclusive, and sustainable community by providing better support and service to our members, and by supporting the use of NISO’s outputs, training, and educational opportunities. This is an ambitious set of goals to achieve along with continuing the traditional work of NISO. 

We believe that even as many institutions are scaling back their ambitions, our work allows our members—and the broader community—to do more with less, as they become more efficient. As I mentioned last month, we don’t engage in this work for the fun, but rather to support the real business needs of our community. We’re currently conducting a community survey that we plan to use as a benchmark against which we will judge our progress on many of these goals—it will close soon, though there’s still time to provide your feedback! 

Each year, I end the members’ meeting with a shout-out to all those who contribute to NISO. Of course, I’m grateful to our leadership on the NISO Board of Directors. I’m excited to work with the new members, who will join the Board following the election that closed last week. We’re grateful to all of our members who support our work, both financially and through adoption and use of our outputs. Most importantly, I always make it a point to thank the hundreds of volunteers who contribute their time, experience, and great ideas to produce the NISO standards and best practices that are core to why we exist. We certainly could not accomplish anything without their support. So, many thanks to all of you. 

Even though we’re being well-behaved and socially distant, I hope that each of you have the opportunity to take a bit of a break this summer and relax. Even if that is simply kicking back in your yard or in a park with your feet in a bucket of cold water, reading a book for a few hours, I hope you get a chance to relax during the dog days of summer that are rapidly upon us. 


Todd Carpenter, Executive Director