by Jesse Draper - Interim Executive Director
Friends of H-Net,
2020 marks a year of significant transition as H-Net's longest serving Executive Director, Peter Knupfer, ended his tenure in the position on December 31st, 2019. H-Net will forever be indebted to Peter for his unwavering passion for the organization, his steady leadership, and the vision and determination it took to grow a collection of listservs into the tremendously multifaceted resource for academics that H-Net has become. Our networks have thrived because Peter always believed in the singularly unique talents and expertise of our editors. For Peter, the real enduring strength of H-Net these more than twenty-five years has always, and could only, be truly attributed to our network and reviews editorial teams. On a personal level, Peter was an incredible mentor to the both of us as we finished our graduate studies at Michigan State and during our time together in the H-Net Home Office. We wish Peter all the best as he steps away to focus on his work as a historian at MSU.
New leadership brings new vision, but with our long-standing ties to the organization, the future of H-Net will be built on the strength of years of experience in Open Access, academic best practices, and collaboration. When the H-Net listservs became networks and moved to their new home on the H-Net Commons, we were very excited about the possibilities for scholars on the new platform. But first and foremost, our concern was to make the transition as smooth as possible for subscribers, retaining as much of the moderated listserv culture that had set us apart from other public forums as possible. We are happy to say that we host nearly 180 wonderful networks and we have also expanded existing services like the Job Guide, Reviews and H-Announce while introducing others such as the H-Net Book Channel and H-Net Journals. Our platform has grown, but there are many areas where we see room for improvement and innovation. It is time to further improve the subscriber experience and continue to bring H-Net in line with current digital best practices as we begin a new decade.
Toward those ends, we have been taking a deep dive into how people use the current platform and have identified several key areas for focused improvement. We are also exploring new forms of subscriber participation, such as customizable personal spaces that allow for more refined curation as well as streamlined opportunities to create academic-caliber digital scholarship. We have also begun work on a digital peer-review service that we see as vital to giving that digital scholarship intellectual credibility and institutional sanction.
H-Net has long strived to serve the academic community by providing the services and resources necessary to building academic careers and strong intellectual communities. As we begin 2020 and look to the challenges and opportunities ahead, we are committed not only to maintaining the quality services you have come to expect from H-Net, but to anticipating and meeting your future academic needs.
We look forward to meeting that challenge and wish you the best in the New Year.
All the best,
Doug Priest, President
Jesse Draper, Interim Executive Director