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Electronic publishing to move forward; ASAE Foundation support a plus.

New information technologies and the Internet are challenging traditional publishing paradigms. Within these challenges, however, ASAE sees opportunities to improve service to members. On more than one front, the Society is moving forward to meet the 21st century, toe to toe.

Leader of the pack

ASAE Publications Director Donna Hull is leading an initiative to look at ways agricultural societies might jointly approach the challenges of electronic publishing and find areas for collaboration. This effort is part of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology's (CAST) "Conversations on Change." Hull is a member of the Synergy Group.

Last year, CAST approved a proposal submitted by Hull via the Synergy Group to fund a meeting of agricultural society publishing staff Meeting participants identified common challenges and addressed the potential for pursuing joint solutions. Technological, financial, member/customer service and publishing procedure challenges were considered.

Opportunities for collaboration were also discussed. These include:

* Exploring financial models.

* Evaluating technology and vendors.

* Identifying customer needs (libraries and others).

* Creating common documents.

* Creating links and indexes.

This spring, the group will meet with university and industry library staff to discuss opportunities for collaboration in meeting challenges related to information distribution in an electronic environment.

Foundation supports ASAE effort

The ASAE Foundation recently approved a $31,000 Foundation Grant Request. These funds will be used to:

* Determine customer content and delivery needs in an electronic information environment.

* Develop specifications for an electronic information database.

The grant request was developed by the ASAE Publications Forward Planning Committee, which is chaired by Randall Reeder, and Donna Hull. It was forwarded to the Foundation with the approval of the Publications Council.

As a first step in accomplishing the goals identified above, a request for proposals (RFP) was distributed in March to recruit a vendor who will assist ASAE in the development of an RFP for an information database.

"Our goal," says Hull, "is an ASAE technical information database that we can provide online to members and others, and from which we can provide a variety of outputs in addition to online--such as CD ROM and print."

Hull says she wishes to assure members that "ASAE isn't planning to move to electronic publishing only. We're looking for a system that will allow us to meet a variety of member needs. As long as members are willing to pay for print, we will produce print."

The R&D stage of the project--or Phase One--is projected for completion by September 1998.

"We expect the process will require the vendor to arrange and facilitate sessions with staff and at least two representative groups of ASAE customers to determine staff and user needs and priorities."

The vendor will also research the most feasible ways to build the system, and will test ideas and formats.

Phase Two of the project, which is as yet unfunded, will include selecting a vendor to develop the database, having the system fully functional by early 1999, and demonstrating the system at the 1999 Annual International Meeting.

"Obtaining Foundation support for Phase One of this project was a milestone in the development of ASAE's electronic publishing capabilities. By granting support for thoughtful study, our ASAE Foundation is ensuring that we can provide members and other customers with the services that will be most useful to them."
COPYRIGHT 1998 American Society of Agricultural Engineers
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Title Annotation:American Society of Agricultural Engineers
Publication:Resource: Engineering & Technology for a Sustainable World
Date:Apr 1, 1998
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