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