by Lori Tamura
Congratulations to ALSNews for reaching Volume 400! Twenty-four years ago, when ALSNews was launched, the World Wide Web was still in its infancy, there were no iPhones, and social media did not yet exist. “Electronic mail,” however, had been around for a while, mainly in academic settings. ALS communicators Jane Cross and Deborah Dixon, led by user liaison Fred Schlachter, decided that email would be a great way to keep users up to date on developments at the ALS, which had opened up just the previous year.
At the time, the primary form of communication with users was a hardcopy newsletter, the Advanced Light Source Report, which had to be typeset and printed and was often out of date by the time it was mailed out. Incredibly, the original intent for ALSNews was to deliver a newsletter daily or once a week. This idea was soon abandoned for a more manageable two-week cycle, and eventually, with user feedback, ALSNews settled into its current monthly schedule.
ALSNews Vol. 1 (see archived copies here) was delivered to the inboxes of several hundred users and advisory committee members. Soon, other DOE light-source users began subscribing, as well as prospective users and graduate students. The first-anniversary issue, Vol. 39, reported having over 550 subscribers in 27 countries. Today, ALSNews Vol. 400 will go out to over 6300 subscribers in 49 countries.
There have been many improvements over the years, such as the inclusion of graphics and the use of email management services. Many editors have held the job of managing ALSNews, which includes updating distribution lists, compiling, editing, and formatting material, and—perhaps the most nerve-wracking part—pressing the SEND button: Jane Cross, Deborah Dixon, Annette Greiner, Lori Tamura, Shauna Kanel, Liz Moxon, Ashley White, and Cindy Lee. Thanks to all of you for your efforts!
Of course, it would be impossible to sustain a newsletter for 400 issues without the support and input of staff, users, and readers. We want to hear from you! Please take a few minutes to complete a 1-minute online survey. Your feedback is greatly appreciated and will help ALSNews continue to improve as we set our sights on Vol. 500!