Friday, 9th April 2010
Tim Buckley Owen
Turmoil continues to beset the information industry’s professional bodies as Aslib becomes the latest to face major upheaval. But unlike some of its erstwhile competitors, Aslib is a survivor, having been taken under the wing of management research publisher Emerald.
Aslib has recently encountered ‘difficult times’, Emerald acknowledged when announcing the acquisition (http://www.vivavip.com/go/w84582). Established as long ago as 1924, it went into voluntary liquidation in 2004 following earlier sales of parts of its business, reconstituting itself almost immediately as a limited liability company.
It’s had a happier fate than the City Information Group (CiG), which folded last July (http://www.vivavip.com/go/e21391) and the Association of UK Media Librarians (AUKML), which ceased to be viable some months ago as well (http://www.vivavip.com/go/e27979). Meanwhile a third organisation, the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP), has survived, but only by merging protectively with the Frost & Sullivan Institute (http://www.vivavip.com/go/e20095).
Now Emerald is saying that Aslib’s services to members will continue and grow, with ‘a raft of new service options’ promised as well. But there will be redundancies among its London staff, and the future of some of its existing activities is in doubt.
‘The Aslib conference and training scheduled for 2010 will continue,’ Emerald’s Head of Corporate Communications Moyna Keenan told LiveWire – and Emerald also plans to revive and develop the special interest groups, once it’s had the opportunity to consult with the members. But ‘Aslib recruitment had not been active for some time so we have decided not to reinstate this service,’ she continued, and there appears to be no guarantee at this stage of which other services will continue long term.
So is Emerald intent on transforming Aslib into an online community like FreePint? ‘Over the years, Emerald has successfully created online communities and resources including Emerald Literati, Emerald for Librarians and Emerald for Researchers,’ Moyna Keenan confirmed, adding that it hopes to build on that approach to create improved services for Aslib members.
But ‘whilst technology will play its part as Emerald develops and enhances its web platform throughout 2010, Aslib will not be an exclusively virtual organisation,’ she continued. ‘It’s a good opportunity to rethink, with a global membership, what Aslib is and should be.’
Meanwhile Aslib’s Managing Information magazine will continue under Graham Coult (http://www.managinginformation.com/), although all other operations will move to Emerald’s West Yorkshire headquarters with a new dedicated team. Although Aslib’s London offices had slimmed down significantly over recent years, without a metropolitan presence it remains to be seen how viable a continuing ‘traditional’ service might be.
Full disclosure: Tim Buckley Owen is a regular trainer and occasional consultant for Aslib.
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