In the triennium, ICSTI has made strenuous efforts to review its activities to make them more relevant to current needs, to increase its membership and to improve its financial viability. The recruitment of additional members met with limited success. The geographical spread of members has increased, and its 1996 General Assembly is to be held in South Africa. The main effort to improve its financial viability has been to improve its record of viable publications. It has recently published a multi-lingual thesaurus for the geological sciences, which is a significant work, but it is likely to prove hard to repeat.
There have been more notable successes in the technical programme section at its General Assemblies, where the 1994 reports on electronic distribution of journal information within academic institutions by libraries and the 1995 report on a networking project provided valuable information about possible difficulties in mounting financially viable enterprises. A 1995 report on possible changes to the legal status of electronic information was also useful.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign from the IUCr's point of view is that ICSTI seems to have outgrown excessive preoccupation with the legal aspects of the ownership of information in databases, and in the second half of the triennium has taken a more balanced view of scientific information as a whole.
I believe that the community would be better served if CODATA and ICSTI were to amalgamate. If one were conspicuously stronger than the other it would be appropriate for the IUCr to abandon the weaker organization. For the time being, however, their strengths do not overlap, and the main factor the bodies have in common is some weaknesses, such as limited financial strength. I suggest a formal approach by the IUCr to the Executives of both organizations, asking that they consider again the potential benefits of amalgamation.
20 February 1996 E. N. MASLEN, Representative
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