Redacted Minutes: ADHO Steering Committee Mid-year Conference Call for 2013-14

Redacted Minutes: ADHO Steering Committee Mid-year Conference Call for 2013-14.

March 5, 2014, 21:00 UTC


Bethany Nowviskie (BN)
Lisa Spiro (LS)
Kay Walter (KW)
Susan Brown (SB) for Michael Sinatra
Paul Arthur (PA)
Øyvind Eide (OE)
Harold Short (HS)
Jarom McDonald (JM)
John Nerbonne (JN)
Paul Spence (PS)
Glen Worthey (GW)
Stéfan Sinclair (SS)
Dan O’Donnell (DO)
Julia Flanders (JF)
Neil Fraistat (NF)
Ray Siemens (RS)

Summary of Action Items

  • Action on NF: Follow up with JN and OE to get some recommendations from the CCC and the Awards Cmte to present to SC for discussion
  • Action item: JN take discussion about conference rotation back to CCC, discuss it further and develop a proposal. Proposal to SC in time for Lausanne meeting.
  • Action item on JN: develop proposal in advance of Lausanne with specific recommendations that respond to conference planning and review issues raised in Melissa Terras’s and Elisabeth Burr’s reports
  • Action on NF by March 20 to reintroduce question of publication subventions on the SC list
  • Action on JF by March 20 to summarize her contribution to the discussion of publication subventions for that topic’s reintroduction.

9:00 PM Welcome and logistics (Neil Fraistat)

Welcome and thanks from NS

  • thanks to John Nerbonne for work on establishing ADHO as a non-profit and setting up banking
  • thanks as well to Jarom and Karina for their work on this
  • first meeting of non-profit board will be at DH2014 in Lausanne
  • thanks to all who contributed to the strategy process and preparation

9:05  Budget discussion (Jarom McDonald, 20 minutes)

  • review of budget in light of the face-to-face meeting, including any changes arising
  • discussion of how to allot the funds remaining from U Nebraska’s $25,000 surplus
  • discussion about funding CO publications above or below the line (as per Pubs committee recommendation on this subject circulated by Neil)

OE reports on bursaries, and discussion:

  • Lausanne hotel costs are quite high (and there are no cheaper options this year), making it difficult for bursary holders to afford travel or conference fee; though bursary is not intended to cover the full cost, still we should consider whether we should raise the bursary level (either for this year or permanently).  
  • Decision to do some cost modeling to determine the effect of raising bursary level.  
  • Discussion of the fact that the Lausanne bid did include affordable grad-student type housing; what happened?  Apparently, the company hired by local hosts have not given really satisfactory answers about this, but has asked them to work toward cheaper options, e.g. youth hostel with shared bathrooms. 
  • Suggestion that once this option becomes available, perhaps the bursary issue for this year may be resolved; however, is it still the case that the bursary level is too low?  It does not seem to be the case that recipients have declined to attend the conference because the bursary was too low
  • Awards Cmte would also like to increase the number of bursaries; there is obviously a trade off between size and number of bursaries.  Note that other conferences, e.g. DHSI, offer bursaries that are explicitly not meant to cover complete costs completely, in order to spread them more broadly.  
  • DHSI offers tiered bursary amounts depending on distance from home to DHSI, as well as encouraging recipients to take their bursary letters to their departments to seek additional funding.
  • Action on NF: Follow up with JN and OE to get some recommendations from the CCC and the Awards Cmte to present to SC for discussion

Discussion of University of Nebraska surplus, $25K: JM reports that we have about 5,500 Euros still left from the Nebraska surplus after London strategy mtg reimbursements are processed.

Fervent thanks from JM to Karina for assistance with successful setup of Dutch bank account for ADHO Foundation.  JM notes that the Dutch banking does all of its reporting in Euros; hence makes sense for ADHO accounting to be done in Euros rather than UK pounds from now on. No objection from the group.

JM notes a few points resulting from our new banking arrangements:

  • bank charges high currency conversion rates
  • hence reimbursements in other (non-EU?) currencies cost more than when we did our banking in UK
  • could we explore other options such as PayPal to mitigate the high costs of doing currency conversions?

JM notes recent contributions to ADHO rainy-day funds from ADHO, ACH and EADH

  • ADHO now has a nest egg amounting to about 75% of one year’s operating budget: about €60K

JM now trying to set up auto-payments (to save on fees and exchange) for some expenses, e.g. infrastructure, hosting fees, etc.

Thanks expressed to Paul Spence for long service as Treasurer; Paul sends thanks back to Jarom for smooth transition

Other funding issues resulting from London meeting to be reserved for later.

9:25 Conference Coordinating Committee Update (John Nerbonne)

See JN’s report sent via email.

Call for hosting bids have been sent broadly.  So far three potential hosts have approached JN, including one in Europe; two others have approached JN as potential bidders, but have not committed to have themselves named yet.

JN notes from his report that he feels it would be desirable to re-establish some sort of geographic rotation for conference hosting: to allow people to focus their host-bidding efforts on particular years, rather than having the choice of geography voted upon every year.


  • Recommendation of suggestion for a regular three-year rotation: North America, Europe, and Pacific area (shared between Asia and Australia areas)
  • There has also been discussion of COs holding their own conferences; a rotation as described would help COs plan these events
  • We still need to include other parts of the world: e.g. South America, Africa, India; these would also need to be taken into the rotation
  • GO::DH has noted increased level of discussion on this topic that has been happening in the community.  Does not see that these other areas will likely be bidding to host soon, but would recommend keeping this as a longer-term goal, and keeping flexibility in mind.  (e.g., a Latin American bid could be seen as coming in as part of the “North American” rotation, or Africa as part of the “European” rotation)
  • Desirability of reducing carbon footprint of the conference also expressed: suggestion to emphasize regional conferences with an international conference that rotates
  • Would it help to express the rotation as "NA, Europe, rest of world"?: this would acknowledge the fact that it may not be possible to field bids from, e.g., Asia/Australia every three years
  • There is a possibility of moving forward based on the presumption of this three-year rotation, but not to insist on it, although we could specifically solicit/invite bids from the target regions
  • Notes that last year, inquiries about bids came from places such as Peru, India, Singapore, and other less-expected locations (although no bids actually followed); would like to keep these possibilities explicitly open
  • Why not just keep the three-part world division that has already naturally evolved, and make each of the parts more inclusive?  e.g. if Africa is not interested in a bid in a particular year, then a European bid would be welcomed.
  • A “third region” would need to be constructed and named very carefully, given the diversity of languages and regions involved - but there is general agreement with the principle.  Focus should be on quality of bid as well as principle of rotation, if that is adopted.
  • Some were inclined to favor strict geographic rotational principle earlier, for the sake of clarity, but is less so now: early and regular communication with potential bidders is a key. Maybe a strict rotation is not entirely desirable.
  • Action item: JN take this discussion back to CCC, discuss it further and develop a proposal for a rotation. Proposal to SC in time for Lausanne meeting.

9:30 Discussion of Melissa Terras's Report about PC 2014 (Neil Fraistat)

NF summarizes Melissa’s report:

  • Conference expansion is putting extraordinary pressure on administrative/organizational mechanisms
  • Issue of reviewing in multiple languages, and some other language-related issues, have arisen during review process, but it was generally a smooth process this year
  • Perhaps need some paid support for PC chair and committee
  • Need recommendations from CCC
  • Notes the desirability of some representative from ADHO being easily available to local hosts, along the lines of a "special liaison" working alongside host and in close contact with ADHO; ideally someone who could do it in several successive years. (Note that some of the governance discussion from London meeting may have bearing on this sort of office.)  Good to identify tasks that such a person could regularly take on.
  • Action item on JN: develop proposal in advance of Lausanne with specific recommendations that respond to issues raised in Melissa Terras’s and Elisabeth Burr’s reports

9:35 Progress on work with OUP (Harold Short, 10 minutes)

  • quick report on progress to date on CO-specific skinning of OUP interface, and new membership option
  • open access experiment
  • outstanding issues for discussion

As with conference planning matters, here to some of the London strategy recommendations may well influence ADHO’s business with OUP, but with that caveat, regardless of London outcomes, HS’s report is important.

OUP has been helpful in developing membership-only option, without charging an admin fee.  

Interface skinning: the SC agreed that ADHO should have its own skin for its membership site; OUP agrees and is awaiting some practical followup from ADHO.  OUP has said that they currently have no mechanism for automated interaction between something we would set up and their own subscription systems, but they’re happy to provide us with information about subscribers that we could use as membership data.

Perhaps we can collect information and pass subscription information along to OUP at intervals or at the end of the year, OUP then sending ADHO an invoice for subscription money (and we would earn interest on the money)?

Depends on ADHO getting to a practical understanding of how such an interface skin would be developed; OUP is open to our suggestions and they are currently developing a new system (which may be adaptable?).

OUP are happy to have LLC be a kind of test/prototype for various open-access options.  Need to develop a collaborative research project with OUP to study the impact of open-access operations 

9:45  Summary and Discussion of London Strategy Meeting (Neil Fraistat, Susan Brown, Ray Siemens, Bethany Nowviskie)

NF notes that a lot of smart and integrated work went into the work of the London mtg. Actual reports from each group will be finalized and made available to the entire SC by next Monday. Now we’ll have a summary from each of the three groups; more formal reports / recommendations to follow.

Susan (Membership)

Basic principles and recommendations of London Meeting's Membership Group presented to the SC:

  • Greater equality and a level playing field for all COs, without competition among COs
  • Simpler, and more transparent membership options and procedures for all our members, with clear and consistent package of membership benefits across COs

Some discussion of finer points on multiple-CO membership, voting, committee representation, membership choices, etc.  A few questions answered and clarified.  No action taken (or required at this point).

Ray (Funding)

Four major points of recommendation from this group:

  • enlarged, more diverse revenue base for ADHO activities
  • no significant change in current revenue distribution to COs
  • stronger incentive structure for COs to take action where their constituencies most need action
  • professional, stronger centralized service model along the lines of what we now have for IT infrastructure

Discussion and clarifications follow.

Bethany (Governance)

General principles:

  • Many of the principles of this group harmonize with those of the Membership group: nature of ADHO as an umbrella org, need to communicate closely within our CO structures,
  • Focus on economies of scale among COs; look at the things that we can only do together, or than we can best do collaboratively

Several substantial recommendations and proposed governance structures presented and discussed, including comparisons to similar organizations, risks and benefits, etc. 

Neil summary:

  • these Strategy Group reports suggest some very substantive changes to long-standing ADHO practices
  • we need to provide sufficient time for careful consideration
  • need to feel confident that we’ve addressed all the issues and have strong support for a proposed course of action; more important than speedy action
  • the reports that will be coming will be structured as core principles, recommendations, and suggested timelines
  • need to discuss these at the level of digestion, getting our minds around what’s being proposed:

NF proposes a process:

  • circulate written reports to SC
  • take at least one or two weeks for comments and suggestions
  • allow COs to feel comfortable with what is being suggested so that they can take something clear back to their organizations for discussion
  • find out from CO reps how much time they need for consultation with their COs
  • COs return to SC with comments
  • SC works on synchronization, reconciliation, voting (on straightforward matters) or further discussion (on more complex)
  • We will be flexible in determining whether email discussion is sufficient; perhaps we may need another phone call

General agreement among SC on general path forward, but some note the importance and magnitude of these changes, and would like to make sure everyone has enough time for good discussion. General agreement expressed by SC.

NF thanks attendees for hard work in London, and whether we take on everything that was proposed, or only part, the progress is expected to be substantial, thanks to this work.

10:05 Additional space for discussion of topics arising

Inclusivity Group (Bethany Nowviskie, Neil Fraistat)

  • Conference code of conduct went live on 2014 conference site; Lisa has propagated it to various places on ADHO site
  • Happy to note that the Lausanne group drew together information for attendees
  • Thanks to all involved, including people who contributed to various working group discussions; BN has noted substantial expressions of gratitude and support for this effort from the community, both publicly and privately
  • BN has done some consultation on policy, communications, and procedures with Awards committee; thanks to Øyvind for bringing her in on this. As per "inclusivity working groups" protocol, BN is happy to consult or organize volunteers to assist any standing committee wishing to review its governing documents and procedures.
  • NF notes that this sort of just-in-time work on specific important issues such as this has been a positive way of working.  Expect an action item in this area coming from NF soon.
  • Øyvind expresses thanks to BN from Awards committee for her participation
  • BN notes that ADHO’s work in this area has been noticed by other professional associations, she has been approached for comments

Review of SIG activities (Neil Fraistat, Dan O'Donnell)

  • NF proposes forgoing report on SIGs, which are all expected to submit reports before the Lausanne meetings anyway.
  • NF notes great progress esp. of GO::DH: it is currently having elections for its board, and has had great success in bringing many voices, from many places in the world, into conversation with ADHO.

Publication subvention to COs

  • Issue of what happens when new COs join; ADHO currently provides earmarked funding for a publication whether they want it or not
  • Proposal that we move that funding “below the line” to give COs more autonomy in determining how the money is spent
  • NF ask for feedback from the group before bringing a proposal up for discussion and vote.  Some discussion points:
    • The idea of going beyond strictly publications may be good - but would like to continue to have ADHO express its specific support for activities that are important to us, e.g., publication; 
    • Calls for discussion and debate with COs as they enter ADHO.  Note the example of JADH, though, which chose to use its publication subvention for an English-language journal, an idea that turned out not to be tenable for their particular situation. Need to allow CO usage of this funding to change over time as needed to reflect changing circumstances or strategies.  general agreement with “flexibility over time” idea.  
    • Noted that COs have not been actually required to create publications, but still notes the importance of a principle that an activity funded through this subvention should benefit not so much the CO individually, but rather all of ADHO. The current publication subvention model does precisely this: emphasizes activities (i.e. publications) that benefit ADHO broadly, not just an individual CO
    • Some newer COs have discussed whether they should start a new journal; new journals not at all rewarded in some national funding environments. Option of thinking creatively about different ways to use the funding to produce/oversee/curate something -- even if not specifically a publication -- that would benefit the international community would be a positive move. Future COs will benefit from flexibility in this area.
    • Emphasis once again on the strategic nature of this investment (the publication subvention), which was extremely important in the very formation of ADHO.  We need to pay attention to publications for strategic reasons.  At the time of ADHO formation, we especially keenly felt the need to support an online journal, and JF’s work with DHQ was an outstanding direct result of that investment in an intellectual strategic need.  The publications that have been supported “above the line” have been very important, and we should keep that strongly in mind.

Action on NF by March 20 to reintroduce this question on the SC list.

Action on JF by March 20 to summarize her earlier contributions to this discussion in preparation for the topic’s reintroduction.


10:25 Wrap-up, summary of action items (5 minutes)

Action on Secretariat! Minutes and action items to be prepped by Secretariat soon, with special attention to email reminders to those with action items.