For all of you whipper snappers (a loving term applied to generations younger than yourself) who haven't been around SAS since the beginning of time - like Phil Miller, Art Carpenter and Kathy Council have - you may not remember when SAS Users Groups conference proceedings weren't offered online. That's right - there was no Internet. During that unholy time (and for a short time after while our generation learned to use the new fangled Web stuff), SAS printed and bound the conference proceedings. Thanks to Lex Jansen, Rich La Valley and a score of other folks, most of the proceedings are now offered online. Most, I said.
Rich La Valley, chair of SUGI 14 and member of the sasCommunity.org Advisory Board, just gave me a call to ask a big favor of the SAS community. La Valley said that the SAS Library has copies of all SUGI, SAS Global Forum, regional users group and special interest group conference proceedings, but the process for scanning those proceedings would mean that the binders would have to be cut apart and then each page would have the binder section cut off. Of course, the pages would be rebound once the scanning is complete, but these bound copies would forever be altered.
"I think those copies are the only complete sets of some of these proceedings," said La Valley. "But, I'm hoping that there are SAS users out there who have the missing bound copies and would be willing to donate them for this cause."
La Valley isn't just putting the conference proceedings online. He is also indexing the proceedings so that you can search using parameters such as author's name, title, keywords, conference and date. What an undertaking, but what a great resource! For instance:
- SAS users looking for a mentor in PROC SQL could look through the ten pages returned for PROC SQL to learn about users in their region who present often on PROC SQL.
- Looking to see if the paper you want to present at SAS Global Forum 2013 has ever been written about before? Search here for papers from 1976 to 2012.
- Maybe you forgot the name of the great paper that you saw Toby Dunn present at SESUG in 2010. You can search on Toby Dunn or search in the SESUG 2010 proceedings until you happen across it. Maybe you only remember the topic - working with SAS date - you don't get Toby Dunn's paper right off, but you get great resources.
You get the point.
Here is the list that La Valley sent of the missing years and conferences that he hopes you will be able to donate:
PharmaSUG - 1990 -1997 and 1999 (Thank you to Rich Allen for 1998.)
WUSS - 1993, 1997, 1999 (Thank you to Diana Suhr for providing the other years.)
NESUG - (Complete - thanks to Ray Pass.)
SESUG - (Complete - thanks to MariBeth Johnson.)
MWSUG - 1990, 1992, 1994 - 1999, 2002, 2003 ( Thank you to LeRoy Bessler for 1991 and 1993. )
SCSUG - 1990 (Thank you to Tom Winn for providing the other years.)
PNWSUG - All years prior to 2004.
"I have already recovered all of the papers from SEUGI in Europe thanks to Frank Leistner, from SAS, but have not begun anything on the proceedings in Australia/New Zealand," La Valley said.
La Valley and I talked a little about the future of the project, and he has grand plans. Using SAS text mining technology, La Valley will work with Denise Bedford from Kent State to create a semantic map of the proceedings that delves deeper than any 'search' engine can. As I understand it, this technology will search the content of the papers for its meaning. This will allow users to search the database for papers about a topic. Since the technology understands the papers, users will get a cluster of papers that are meaningful. Remarkable! How many times have you opened a paper and realized that the title misrepresented the contents?
To help move this along, La Valley says the first step is locating all of the proceedings. "Please look in boxes in the attic or garage, or on book cases in your office for these missing proceedings," he said. "I would greatly appreciate your help, and I will keep you updated on the progress."
To contact La Valley with questions or to learn how you can donate and mail documents to him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.