Looking Back at the Year in H-Net

Randolph Hollingsworth's picture

At the close of the calendar year, and as my role as H-Net Council President comes to an end, it is timely to reflect on what has taken place this past year. In the first few weeks of the year, I consulted with the Vice-Presidents, and especially with Monika Lehner (H-Net VP Teaching & Learning), and the Home Office Staff. I found that one of the issues I could adress is to help make the Council’s work more transparent. We built the public network, HNet-Executive-Council, so that the VPs and I could blog on a regular basis about things we felt were important, and the minutes of the H-Net Council could be published there.

Another trend for this past year that I have observed is about the work of the Executive Director in building out the staff needed to ramp up for the H-Net Commons. The Executive Director's H-Net Home Office expansion has really matured the overall work of the H-Net community and resources, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Peter Knupfer. We now have hands-on support for editor recruitment and training (Dr. Yelena Kalinsky for Reviews; and Dr. Jesse Draper for Networks), continuous improvement of H-Net Commons interface, converting for the Commons to handle huge numbers of archived content files from big networks such as H-Diplo, the move of  H-Announce into the Commons to ease sharing and re-posting.  I can't say enough about the work of the H-Net system administrators (Dennis Boone and Doug Priest) and the two new Associate Directors, Drs. Kalinsky and Draper - they have been tireless in their efforts to renovate and update old processes that provide the core of H-Net services.

Another milestone to celebrate: we lived through two election cycles using the new polling module in the H-Net Commons. Past elections have been fraught with calls for help, but this year's elections used a process that worked amazingly well, despite the continued low voter turnout from our editor community. 

In my role as President, I led four quarterly meetings of the Council: minutes are available for March, July, and October.  December's minutes will be coming soon. So, looking back, I have a list of what I think were some positive contributions from this year's Council -- and some regrets that I was unable to help rectify: 

PRO 

  • Nearly finished with the new  H-Net Strategic Plan, updated to address issues inherent to the new platform and new challenges for the H-Net community to meet.

  • Development of new enterprise-wide projects such as the Crossroads Networks, the Podcast project to boost H-Reviews.

  • Updated job  descriptions and policies for H-Net editors to reflect the new opportunities possible in the Commons.

  • Finances are generally sound, with a successful fundraising drive this fall but a drop in postings to the H-Net Job Guide.  

  • Approved many new editors and several new networks - showing the rising levels of new talent in the Commons - as well as decommissioning several lists that had been slowly dying down and did not successfully transition to the Commons; with the help of several editors, the VP for Networks created one new blended network (H-MidWest) of several decommissioning old lists (H-Iowa; H-Illinois; H-Indiana; H-Michigan; and H-Ohio) that had lost energy in recent years.

 

CON (regrets) 

  • Still addressing issues involving how to incorporate the German language networks into the Commons and also addressing the recent issues of intellectual property that European courts have raised up.

  • Didn’t get the transition to a new Executive Director smoothed out.

  • H-Net Teaching Center, a signatory initiative from the early days of H-Net, is still struggling to get on its feet.

  • Though we did draft the new Strategic Plan, we did not (as I had hoped) include information that would fuel the creation of a "White Paper" concerning H-Net's status and intentions in the context of the Open Access movement and other similar organizations.

  • Networks without functioning Advisory Boards still rely on a super-user who generates all the content creation.  While this might work in the short-run for some, it is a poor strategy for generating a strong future for the H-Net community.  Patrick Cox, our great VP for Networks, continues to work on bringing up this issue with our editors,

Overall, my time as President has been most enjoyable, and I look forward to seeing H-Net continue as a leader in scholarly discourse and open access to quality resources in the digital age. We have much to be proud of this year, and I am honored to have been a part of the work of the 2015 H-Net Council.

Sincerely,

Randolph Hollingsworth, H-Net President 2015
   and H-Kentucky Network Editor
University of Kentucky

 

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