The American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland. Its motto is “The Information Society for the Information Society.” The members are information professionals, including librarians, webmasters, information specialists, educators, and researchers.
It has approximately 4,000 members, “information specialists from such fields as computer science, linguistics, management, librarianship, engineering, law, medicine, chemistry, and education; individuals who share a common interest in improving the ways society stores, retrieves, analyzes, manages, archives and disseminates information, coming together for mutual benefit.” Formerly, it was called the American Society for Information Science (ASIS), and originally it was called the American Documentation Institute (ADI).
ASIS&T has fifty-six chapters worldwide. Some of these are regional chapters: Arizona, Carolina, Central Ohio, Europe, Indiana, Los Angeles, Metropolitan New York, New England, New Jersey, Northern Ohio, Pacific Northwest, Potomac Valley, and Taipei.
Most, though, are student chapters. They are Catholic University of America; Drexel University; European Student Chapter; Florida University; Indiana University; Long Island University; Louisiana State University; McGill University; North Carolina Central University; Ohio Virtual (Kent State); Pratt Institute; Rutgers University; San Jose State University; Simmons College; St. John’s University; State University of New York – Albany; State University of New York – Buffalo; State University of New York – Oswego; Taipei University; University of Alabama; University of British Columbia; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Denver; University of Hawaii; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; University of Iowa; University of Kentucky; University of Maryland; University of Michigan; University of Missouri; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; University of North Texas; University of Pittsburgh; University of South Carolina; University of South Florida; University of Tennessee, Knoxville; University of Texas, Austin; University of Toronto; University of Washington; University of Western Ontario; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; and Wayne State University.
There are six chapters “in need of Revitalization.” These are Chicago, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio River Valley, and Wisconsin. There are twenty Special Interest Groups (SIGs).
The organization’s major journal publication is Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), which has been published since 1950. At first, between 1950 and 1969, it was entitled American Documentation.
Initially, their primary concern was how to store and retrieve long scientific papers for the benefit of scientists and scholars (such as historians of science). At the time, microfilm was the medium for the storage and reproduction of vast amounts of information.
Watson Davis (1896-1967) founded the ADI and served as president twice. He was the first president of the ADI’s Board of Trustees, from 1937 to 1943, and served as president again in 1946. Davis was also Director of the Science Clubs of America, Secretary of the Science Service in 1923, and President of the Science Service in 1933. He edited Science Service and Science News Letter.
Shortly before he founded the ADI, Davis established the Auxiliary Publication Service to produce copies of long technical papers, as Madeline M. Henderson later recounted in the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science in 1988. As Davis himself later recalled in 1962, he founded the American Documentation Institute as the “Documentation Division of Science Service” with $30,000.
The Davis papers are divided between two archives. Some can be found amongst the “Mast (Samuel Otter) Papers, 1912-1947” at John Hopkins University and others in the Smithsonian Institution’s Smithsonian Archives under the heading Science Service.
Keyes D. Metcalf (1889-1983), who served president of the ADI in 1944, was a librarian of international renown. Director of the Harvard University Libraries from 1937 to 1955, as a consultant he later helped plan the construction of hundreds of libraries.
Historian and archival theorist Waldo Gifford Leland (1879-1976) served as president of the ADI in 1945 and again in 1947. He co-authored The Guide to the Archives of the Government of the United States in Washington, published in 1904, which he revised and expanded in 1907.
Waldo G. Leland collected letters of the Continental Congress delegates; served as Carnegie’s representative in France from 1907 to 1914 and from 1922 to 1927, and wrote about libraries and the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; supported Franklin Jameson’s campaign to establish the National Archives; and helped to form the International Committee of Historical Sciences (1926). Of significance to scholars doing any kind of historical research, he oversaw the publication of the Dictionary of American Biography (1927-36).
Vernon Dale Tate (1909-1989) served as president in 1948-49. He headed the photographic reproduction division of the National Archives.