CIL 2011: New Alignments, Structures, & Services

Speakers: Janel White & Hannah Somers (NPR)

They started by playing some clips from NPR broadcasts in which librarians had a role in fact-checking or researching the content. The library is in the digital division, along with the folks who manage the website and API. It is innovating, but also aware that they need a lot of development.

They have begun showing up at divisional product status meetings in order to increase the visibility of their archival project. They have become embedded in other project as experts as a result of this visibility. This is an intentional shift from being viewed as only a service used when their clients needed them.

They used a pilot to both determine which product to use and to get buy-in from their stakeholders. They used Agile to develop the new website and have since adopted it across the board. The team meets daily to talk about what they did the day before and what they plan to do that day. This allows for flexibility and making sure that deadlines will be met. Agile is like baking a new recipe for the first time. You might burn a few, but you know what goes into it and can work to improve it for the next time.

The result is that they were able to redirect and focus their roles away from the ones that were slowly dying. The reference librarians are dispersed across the newsroom to be available at the source, and others are embedded into projects.

Speakers: Jodi Stiles & Greta Marlatt (Homeland Security Digital Library)

After 9-11, the Naval Postgraduate School was asked to come up with a homeland security program, and since then there have been a variety of distance/online masters and certificate options developed.

Five years ago, they had proprietary educational and research support systems that did not talk to each other and were often complicated or duplicative. They got to the point where their servers were crashing every 30 minutes, with each vendor pointing the finger at the others.

To get around the hassle of contracting services, they have adopted open source solutions. Drupal, Moodle, Solr, MediaWiki, and osTicket are their main solutions, and the folks that work with them actually understand what is going on. However, they found that they couldn’t build a whole out of open source parts. After trying to build connectors, they eventually wrote their own tools.

As a result, their stakeholders and the librarians get what they want. They understand how it works and can respond quickly to enhancement requests. However, they have found that they need to be careful about reinventing the wheel.

CIL 2009: CM Tools: Drupal, Joomla, & Rumba

Speaker: Ryan Deschamps

In the end, you will install and play with several different content management systems until you find the right one for your needs. A good CMS will facilitate the division of labor, support the overall development of the site, and ensure best practices/standards. It’s not about the content, it’s about the cockpit. You need something that will make your staff happy so that it’s easy to build the right site for your users.

Joomla was the #1 in market share with good community support when Halifax went with it. Ultimately, it wasn’t working, so they switched to MODx. Joomla, unfortunately, gets in the way of creative coding.

ModX, unlike Joomla, has fine-grain user access. Templates are plain HTML, so no need to learn code specific to the CMS. The community was smaller, but more engaged.

One feature that Deschamps is excited about is the ability to create a snippet with pre-set options that can be inserted in a page and changed as needed. An example of how this would be used is if you want to put specific CC licenses on pages or have certain images displayed.

The future: "application framework" rather than "content management system"

Speaker: John Blyberg

Drupal has been named open source CMS of the year for the past two years in part due to the community participation. It scales well, so it can go from being a small website to a large and complex one relatively easily. However, it has a steep learning curve. Joomla is kind of like Photoshop Elements, and Drupal is more like the full Photoshop suite.

Everything you put into Drupal is a node, not a page. It associates bits of information with that node to flesh out a full page. Content types can be classified in different ways, with as much diversity as you want. The taxonomies can be used to create the structure of your website.

[Blyberg showed some examples of things that he likes about Drupal, but the detail and significance are beyond me, so I did not record them here. You can probably find out more when/if he posts his presentation.]

productivity tools from MS and Google

I’ve been enjoying all the benefits of having Outlook as my primary work email and calendar tool for the past year. After three years of dealing with the disaster that is Novell GroupWise, it’s lovely to finally have a tool that does what I need it to do.

However, for my personal stuff, I am a big fan of Gmail and other Google tools, so I was a little sad to give up my Google Calendar, among other things. All that has changed in the past week now that I’ve discovered the GCal/Outlook syncing program. Right now, I have it only going from Outlook to GCal, but that may change in the future.

Another awesome tool that I’ve implemented this week is the Google Calendar gadget available from Google Labs. This puts my upcoming appointments in the sidebar of Gmail, and pings little reminders if I have Gmail open. Outlook takes care of this at work, and I’m loving having this functionality in my my non-work hours without having to maintain two separate calendars.

The other Google Labs gadget that is made a surprising impact on my productivity and organization is the Remember The Milk task management tool. I’ve been using RTM to keep track of my review assignments, but I hadn’t found a need for it for other to-do things since I use the Tasks feature of Outlook for work stuff. However, when my emails to personal address with things I needed to remember to do began to pile up and clutter my inbox, I decided it was time to implement a real to-do list. With the Gmail integration, it’s now all in one place, just like with my work stuff in Outlook.

a few things

On Sunday, I tried out Skype for the first time. I had installed it on my laptop and gotten a headset and microphone earlier in the week because I had a phone interview with Susan Werner scheduled on Saturday. I thought I could use Skype and record the conversation to my laptop. Instead, I ended up using a speaker phone and recording the conversation to minidisc. So, it wasn’t until Sunday that I decided to give it a go and call my parents via Skype’s free domestic calls special (until the end of the year). Impressive. The sound quality was better than what I usually get on my cheap cell phone.

The interview with Susan Werner was awesome and a lot of fun. My week has been a bit much, but I hope to have the transcript transcribed and edited for public consumption by Saturday. It will be posted here as well as on Blogcritics.org. If you haven’t downloaded Susan’s alternative national anthem (“My Strange Nation”) yet, do it now.

Also on Sunday, I decided I’d better finally watch the two Netflix DVDs I’ve had for nearly two months. That was when I discovered I had misplaced them. After a frantic ten minute search of the house, I gave up and instead watched some stuff I’d downloaded a while ago. I let it simmer until last night, when in a flash of insight after some more searching I remembered one more place I might have stashed them, and there they were. However, by that point it was nearing midnight and I decided that Battlestar Galactica and Crash can wait for the weekend. Particularly since I’ll have Monday off, too!

gmail coolness

I have recently switched my personal emailing entirely over to my Gmail account. In the past year, I’ve been using it for Where’s George hit notifications, Geocaching.com messages, and new BookCrossing messages and journal entry notifications. I continued to use my SpamCop webmail account for other personal emailing. However, when it came time to renew my account ($30/yr), I decided that it was time to move on. I’ve found that changing my email address every few years keeps the spam down. Even with the excellent spam filters, I was getting 10-15 spam messages a day sent to my SpamCop account, some of which were not filtered to the Held Mail folder. In the past 15 days that I’ve been using Gmail exclusively for all of my non-work emailing, I’ve been very happy with it. It’s managing threads of conversations much better than any email system I’ve used in the past. And, since it’s a relatively new account, I have gotten maybe fifteen spam messages in the past year. Not bad.

This past year, I received permission to set up a book exchange bookshelf in the group study area in the library. It’s not exactly an OBCZ, but it functions as such. I set up a separate account on BookCrossing and started registering books left there using that account rather than my regular one. I had been using my work email for that account, but I felt a bit uncomfortable about it. Also, I suspected that sometimes private messages and journal entry notifications were not getting through the campus email filters. I thought about setting up a Gmail account for that, but the idea of having to check yet another email account did not appeal to me. Then I realized I could just have everything forwarded from the library BookCrossing email account to my regular Gmail account. Brilliant! In no time I had the second account set up and forwarding messages. Thank you, Google!