TEI-C Board of Directors meeting, 14-15 November 2009
Meeting held at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Chris Ruotolo

Certification of the meeting

The meeting was certified with the following members present: Lou Burnard (LB), Julia Flanders (JF), Daniel O'Donnell (DO), Daniel Pitti (DP), Laurent Romary (LR), Chris Ruotolo (CR), Susan Schreibman (SS), and Christian Wittern (CW).

Approval of agenda

The agenda was approved.

Approval of minutes

The minutes of the last meeting were approved.

Appointment of officers

DO was reappointed as Chair. SS was reappointed as Vice-Chair. CR will step down as Secretary. DP will step down as Treasurer. LR was reappointed to a two-year term as Council Chair. Appointment of the Executive Director was deferred.

Conference and Members' Meeting debriefing

The conference agenda should always include a summary of changes to the Guidelines at some point. The SIGs have requested the opportunity to present posters describing their activities, as well as some time to report out after their meetings. The posters should go up earlier in the conference, and remain up throughout. Holding the poster slam on the first evening of the conference would be a good idea, and would encourage social interaction.

Overall feedback about the conference was very positive. The paper groupings were appropriate, and the proximity of the parallel sessions was very convenient. The conference has been getting longer in recent years; three days should be the maximum length.

The conference should provide flexible options for scheduling the SIG meetings, which might last for a session, a morning, or all day. At a minimum, each SIG should hold an introductory meeting at the conference. The Program Committee should interact more with the SIGs during the conference planning. The SIG coordinators liked the idea of submitting informational posters, outside the referee process, which would be included in the poster slam. They agreed that there should be more communication before and after the conference (circulating minutes on TEI-L, posting minutes to the website, circulating agendas prior to the meeting, etc.) Perhaps SIG coordinators could have colored badges to identify themselves. The SIGs need to coordinate more with one another, and communicate more effectively with the broader TEI community.

Outreach and assistance to newbies continue to emerge as themes.

Reactions to the conference from individual Board members:
  • CW: the manuscript and genetic editions work was very interesting. The MS SIG will continue to play an important and active role, as the TEI begins to see itself as an overall infrastructure. The TEI sometimes struggles to keep up with what's going on around us; for example, the TEI RDF work was news to many of us. We don't create opportunities for updates, even among Board members. Code4Lib uses Delicious tags to flag things that should be on their radar; perhaps the TEI could do the same, and have the results show up in an RSS feed on the TEI website (thus providing more dynamic content on the home page). Regular news updates from the Board and Council could be helpful; for example, the election of new Board and Council members, and the re-appointment of officers, could be news. The new TEI education journal will also help with communication.

  • LB: it was a good meeting. The plenaries were very well-chosen. Unsworth's presentation made point that TEI is major player in digital world, and needs to talk to other big players. Interest from the publishing world is a big development; we missed that opportunity with the ACLS. The Publishing SIG discussed the possibility of coming up with a recommended spec. The Board should reflect on the implications of that. We must not forget to include a P5 update at some point during the conference!

    [There's a long list of things the TEI wants to do as a consortium; we need a way to match that list with funding sources, and leverage grant projects to do the things we want to do anyway. Many of us have contacts with funding officers, and we should use them more. For example, IMLS was interested in knowing more about TEI. Maybe the TEI should be writing its own grant proposals.]

  • JF: everyone seemed to be in a good mood, and there was a feeling of momentum, which speaks to the quality of the program. There were lots of new faces, and people seemed to be having good interactions. The variety of presentation formats (papers, micropapers, posters, slam) was very effective. We are too diffident about the Members Meeting, which has important, interesting content. We should aim for less apology and more showmanship. Some of the MCing procedures can be eliminated or condensed. Something on the badge to identify members would be helpful for items that require a vote. The meeting agenda needs to be circulated earlier.

  • DP: the HathiTrust uses Google markup instead of TEI, despite the fact that it's a library initiative. There may be an opportunity to encourage the addition of at least rudimentary TEI markup as material is being brought into this library context.

Review of strategic items from London Board meeting
Grants

The SIG microgrants provided great return on investment. The grants are a validation of the SIGs' activities as well as a financial boost. We need a formal procedure for reporting the results of the grant -- both where the money went, and what the SIG achieved -- as well as a space on the website for posting the reports. Financial details should be omitted.

Receiving grants should be a priority for the TEI. We need to focus on "revenue-positive" activities. This includes activities that don't bring in money to the TEI directly, but produce activity that's useful to us (e.g. the WWP grants).

Training and TEI promotion

"Getting Started with TEI" has stalled out. Is there a way to take what's been started and keep working? LR will check with Peter Boot to see if he's willing to continue working on it.

TEI Days have worked very well. Ambassador travel is very useful, especially when paid for by someone else.

[Meeting adjourned for the day; review of strategic items to be continued on Day 2]

Reports
Chair's report (DO)

The TEI currently has 83 members and 18 subscribers. Recruitment and retention will be big challenges in the coming year.

The AccessTEI contract is not the standard Apex contract, and must be vetted by lawyers. We should have it by early next week. The work on the specification (TEI Tite) should be harmonized with the work of the Libraries SIG on the Best Practices Guidelines. Kevin Hawkins will join the working group to help coordinate these efforts. The working group also includes Perry Trolard, Paul Schaffner, and David Seaman (representing Apex). The TEI Tite ODDs will be updated when the spec is finalized.

Treasurer's report (DP)

DP reviewed the 2008 expenses and 2009 budget reports. The conference brought in $9,322 in pledged sponsorship ($6,990 of which has been paid), $3,870 in registration, and $460 in pre-conference registration. Overall, the TEI will run a small profit on the conference.

Only ~$6,000 of this year's projected administrative expenses have been invoiced so far. Membership resignations are up and revenues are down; there's been a 15% drop in membership compared to last year. The remaining Mellon money needs to be spent by the end of the year. In total, the TEI should have about $50,000 in the bank at the end of 2009.

Council report (LR)

The Council held one face-to-face meeting in 2009, plus regular conference calls. There's a nice proposal from Dublin to host a Council meeting/"TEI Day" event there; it would probably be a 3-day event (one workshop day plus a 2-day Council meeting), perhaps at the end of March. Council has applied for an ESF grant to fund a workshop for Son of ODD, and should have a response by December. They would like to hold the workshop before the Council meeting if possible. LR will send a description of the workshop to the Board list.

Council should strive for better integration with the SIGs, especially regarding how SIG activities impact the TEI infrastructure. For example, the Correspondence SIG wants to do technical work that would require significant Council involvement. Council should integrate SIG updates into its meetings and teleconferences.

Resources are needed for tools development -- for example, XPointer implementation. Council should make a formal proposal to the Board for funding. Traditionally, tool development has not been funded by the TEI.

The ISO activity has been good for TEI's visibility in the outside world. We need to accelerate the work this work, and issue joint communications when possible. A wiki-like space is needed to exchange technical information and identify possible further modules which could be shared. Council would like to organize a second face-to-face meeting in 2010, in conjunction with the ISO meetings planned for October in Berlin.

JF raised the issue of outreach to common users. There's still a need for very basic tools and support for TEI users.

CW raised questions about versioning and stability of the Guidelines. LR will summarize current practice for updating the Guidelines and naming the releases, and post this to the Board list.

Secretary and Webmaster report (CR)

A news feature and RSS feed have been added to the website, along with a site search function. The new project form has been revised and semi-automated. A software program (Nagios) has been installed on the TEI server, which will ping Tomcat every two minutes and automatically restart it if the site appears to be down.

The SIGs want better access and more control over their designated space on the website. It's possible to grant targeted web permissions to the SIG representatives within OpenCMS. Migrating to a new CMS (such as Drupal) may make this somewhat easier.

Migrating the TEI Vault to the new website remains a high priority. The Council has proposed new procedures for archiving versions of the Guidelines in the Vault space, and David Sewell has the necessary permissions to begin this work. TEI conference materials (schedules, presentations, posters, etc.) should be archived more consistently on the website.

There are currently three different versions of the TEI members and subscribers database -- the canonical version at Nancy, a cloned version at Virginia that's used for the online elections, and the data generated by the new online payment system. All three should be coordinated into a comprehensive CRM system.

Host activity reports

Host activity reports for 2009 have not yet been posted on the website -- only Lethbridge has submitted one so far. The host representatives present gave brief summaries of the year's activities:

  • Brown: continued to provide listserv maintenance. Conducted an NEH introductory seminar series, attended by individuals from 71 different institutions, which brought in new memberships. An advanced seminar series has been funded by the NEH and will run through June 2011. Andy Ashton wrote a grant for TEI modules for the CAESAR framework.

  • Lethbridge: focused on researching and implementing the new credit card system.

  • Oxford: Sebastian Rahtz worked on the Word/TEI roundtrip system. LB and others contributed to the ENRICH project for customization of manuscript description; the work includes development of the gBank software, which allows for handling of non-standard characters. LB now works half time for the CNRS; this work will help promote the use of TEI in France.

  • Virginia: focused on financial, administrative, and website work.

Selection of standing committees and representatives

Nominating committee: JF will chair, and LR will serve. They will ask Markus Flatscher to serve as the non-Board member, and will approach the other non-elected Council nominees if he declines.

Conference program committee: CW will chair, and DO will serve. CW will approach Becky Welzenbach, Syd Bauman, and Hugh Cayless about serving. 2-3 local organizers should sit on the program committee. Kevin Hawkins has put together a handbook on local organizing that will be helpful.

SIG coordinator: SS will continue in this role.

Board representative to Council: LR will continue in this role.

LR will approach Matthew Driscoll about filling the Council seat vacated by Arianna Ciula.

Host representation and vacancies

The extended term for all hosts except Lethbridge will expire at the end of 2010. The TEI will issue an open RFP for services, and all potential hosts will need to apply. The Board should think about the needs of the Consortium. Are there services we should purchase, rather than relying on hosts to provide them? Who will be the four host representatives on the Board for 2010 and beyond? LB has been leading the search for a possible Board appointee to provide a fresh perspective, but no suitable candidate has yet been found. The current Board has nine members; perhaps we should consider increasing the size. We should aim for a 1:1 ratio of elected and appointed members.

DP and CR recommended that Sarah Wells (Virginia/IATH) be appointed Treasurer and Secretary for the coming year. DP will remain the host representative for Virginia, to ease the transition. David Sewell has agreed in principle to serve as Webmaster, and James Cummings is willing to serve as backup. This suggestion was accepted by the Board.

Review of strategic items from London Board meeting (continued)
Restructuring

The Council term length will remain at two years for now. The discussion of the Board's makeup is ongoing.

Membership

We need to work on increasing our membership numbers, and increasing the value of membership; the AccessTEI initiative should help with both goals. We should improve opportunities for individuals to interact with the TEI, and work on increasing the number of subscribers. The TEI should liaise broadly with other organizations like ISO.

SIGs

The purpose and direction of the SIGs has been clarified. As discussed earlier, better coordination between the SIGs and Council is desirable.

TEI publishing

Two publishing initiatives are in the works. One involves formally publishing materials from the annual conference, and is being led by SS and LB. The other is a more informal publishing arm for the TEI, currently being worked on by the Education SIG.

Services and guidelines

Some work on customizations is being done, but would be better facilitated through microgrants. The "road map" for the Guidelines should be more clearly articulated. Improving Roma is a high priority, but dependent upon funding; possibly a target for an NEH digital humanities development grant. Work on localization of the Guidelines is important and ongoing.

Website

The RSS and news features have been implemented, and so has the search function. Internationalization and localization of the website are currently low priorities. Training and promotional materials can be provided by the SIGs; this relates to the need for improved community access to the website. Work on the Vault is in progress, but not much has been accomplished yet.

Business processes

The online payment system has been implemented. There's been some improvement in the annual budgeting process. Conference funding for local hosts has been increased. The Board has agreed to move to a per diem reimbursement system for travel.

List of priority issues from review of strategic goals
  • Grants
  • Training
  • Recruiting and maintenance
  • Discipline-oriented guidelines
  • Internal and external funding
  • Improved community access to website
  • Promotion
  • Improved administration (invoicing, databases, etc.)
  • Better support and services for newbies
  • Articulating our influence; getting out in front of trends
  • Communication, both internal and toward the broader TEI community
Addressing the priority issues
Grant program

The TEI should provide distinct types of microgrants, with funds allocated for each. Possibilities include expanded SIG-specific grants, grants for desired tool development, planning grants, etc. There could be a single call for proposals for all grants, but with separate pots of money for each category.

LB and SS will draft a proposal for a multi-faceted grant program, and submit it to the Board for review. The Board will then allocate the appropriate funds.

Improved administration

There are currently three databases that contain membership and accounting information, which should be consolidated. The task of communicating with members and subscribers is currently spread among different Board members.

DP, VL, DO, and CR will form a working group to tackle this problem and develop functional specs for TEI membership administration. Some of the funds allocated for administrative work at Nancy and Virginia will be directed toward this activity. The group should have a proposal in place in time for the budget allocation process. DO will convene the group.

CW requested more itemization of how the membership administration and account administration subsidies are being used.

Recruiting/communication/support for newbies

All of these activities can be improved. DO will place a membership and recruitment call to TEI-L. JF and DO will strike a recruitment committee.

RFP process for hosts

The Board should begin the process by making a list of required services, without regard to whether or not they should be handled by hosts or by others. The RFP must be issued by early spring, so that the process can be completed in time for announcement at the next conference in Fall 2010. The list of services should therefore be completed by March. The RFP call will be relatively broad, so that potential hosts can suggest things we haven't thought of. DO, SS, CW, and LR will form a committee to work on the RFP. Staggering the terms of the hosts should be considered.

Budgeting

The Board will vet budget proposals in a process similar to last year's. DP will draft a budget for next year, flagging non-negotiable expenses so that we don't waste time on them. Board members will submit proposals for discretionary spending within 2 weeks, followed by a comment period for discussion. The budget vetting process will take place a month from now.

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 16:00 EST.