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Cindi Blyberg's picture

Tools in ALAConnect and how we use them

Below is a summary of the tools on this site and a brief assessment of how we have used them.  Below that are suggestions for how we might make better use of them.

Posts - like a blog post, this tool was probably meant for one-off topics, announcements, quick questions, etc.  Good uses of this have been our brief discussions of the submission of names for the ALA group on Digital Content, sharing and posting information from Committees, and posting information such as reports or proposals from other groups.  Each post can have any number of comments left by group members, and posts can have documents attached to them.

Online Docs - Like a word-processing document in Google Docs, or like a wiki page, this is a collaborative tool.  When creating an online doc, we put the content on which we want to collaborate into the Body area, then all group members can edit.  Anyone can comment, anyone can include attachments.  To date, we have used this capability only to post attachments (i.e., to share documents, not to collaborate on them).

Discussions - Simply put, a place for organized, threaded discussions among members.  As of now, we have one "Forum" - General Discussion, to which any of us can start "Discussions."  Currently there are many threads inside our General Discussion.  Group Admins (LITA Staff, possibly Colleen?) could create new "Forums" here, if we needed.

Calendar - self-explanatory.  We don't seem to use it much?

Polls/Votes - we have used this several times.  Comments on a poll can serve as discussion; a poll serves as a Board vote.

Files - this is a place where files can be posted for download by others. Files can be organized into folders.  We don't use this, either.

I would recommend that we:

  • Post announcements only to "posts."
  • Create other "Forums" in which to create related discussion threads ("2011 - 2012 Board votes" or "Budget Task Force," for example)
  • Use "Files" for distributing documents prior to meetings, organized by folder
  • Use "Online docs" for collaborative writing.  We could have used it for our "Guiding Principles," or the three Task Force people could use it for our groups' mission statments/charges. (I seem to remember there being an issue with permissions; we will have to work with Jenny Levine to get this working as it should, if so).
  • Polls - we've done pretty good with this one. :)
  • Calendar - I'm not sure we have a use for this, unless we want to make it the LITA master calendar (Aaron?) and put *everything* in it.

I also recommend that we create a folder in Files to put the Board orientation stuff and any other things that we want incoming people to have, including perhaps a "Connect Best Practices" for our group. :)

Thoughts?  Go!


David King's picture

This organisation of how and where we should post sounds pretty clear to me - I'd agree to that! I really like separating the announcements and individual discussions. To me anyway, I think that would keep the discussions tidier, and make it easier for individual board members to refer back to something so they could continue the conversation.

Let's do it!


Maurice York (non-member)'s picture

Sounds good to me!


Maurice York

Head, Information Technology

NCSU Libraries

Karen Starr's picture

I like.  Nice compilation.  I'll take a close look at all the items in the next couple of days and be back with any questions and some comments.
Thanks, Cindi.

Lauren Pressley's picture

Thanks, Cindi! I find it really helpful to have a clearly defined idea of what goes where. This is a great list.


Aaron Dobbs's picture

I'm plenty happy to have the connect calendar feature become the "official" calendar. I populated the BIGWIG LITA calendar from the iCal output of the Connect Calendar for Annual - it was brain-dead easy. :)

The key will be the upkeep of non-annual/midwinter events. 

For example, I did find the Forum Schedule on the main website: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/lita/conferences/forum/2011/schedule.cfm but my cursory look-around did not show me a Connect Calendar for LITA Forum. The codicil to this observation is: do we need a full-blown Connect Calendar for Forum? We'd need to check with Jenny/ITTS for import options (to save the insanity of entering individual event times)

Who would manage the master LITA calendar?
I feel the LITA staff are in a better position to maintain dates and times and locations than any individual committee.


"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Mary Taylor's picture

Are we talking about master calendar for all of LITA on the LITA community or are we talking about a calendar for the Board community or both?  There is a difference between a calendar in a particular community such as the Board community, individual committees and IGs communities, and the LITA community.  I believe Cindi's original post was to and for the Board community.  Clearly, any tools we adopt that help move our work forward need to be shared with all of the committees and IGs and we will want to invite their input on what they have found that works for them.  Perhaps this could be the first topic for the best practices forum that Cindi suggested.  Thinking about audiences and who would be interested in the best practices discussion, I might suggest that it be posted in the joint committees and IGs community rather than in the general LITA community. 

Aaron's post about a master LITA calendar seems most appropriate for the LITA community.  It also seems most appropriate for anyone to be able to post LITA items to it.  Also, please note there is a difference between a calendar and a schedule. I suggest we post events on the calendar with links to the details.  I just tried putting the Forum on the Board calendar and the links to the schedule do not appear on the calendar itself, but, if you click on the event name, you get the full message. I'll go ahead and put this on the LITA Community calendar as well.  Staff  will populate that calendar with additional items after the Forum. 

Thank you.


Mary Taylor
Executive Director
Library and Information Technology Association (LITA)
50 E. Huron, Chicago, IL 60610
Cindi Blyberg's picture

...that a wider use of the calendar tool is warranted, but it should be at the Division level, rather than for us.

Could we use the Calendar tool inside this Connect group to remind us when we're supposed to be where at Midwinter and Annual?  I know that meeting times are constrained by the way that the Conference Scheduler/Planner thingie works.  I understand that we can't change that, but it means I'm constantly struggling to figure out where I'm supposed to be for various Board events.

Aaron Dobbs's picture

Annual and Midwinter have their own Schedulers - which build off of data supplied by Conference Services (which is built from the various units entering their events' metadata).

I was thinking more a single unified calendar for all LITA deadlines, events, Forum schedules, etc. One big happy calendar (similar to the gCal I was doing for BIGWIG) for everything. I guess the "best" place for that data to live is within the general LITA Group - but are the calendars mergable with each other? Meaning, if I look at the Connect Calendar, will is see everything from all my groups and communities or just the stuff from the Calendar of the Group I'm in?

Experience says each calendar is separate from the others... so I now have as many claendars to check as I have group memberships. Far from ideal (for the way my brain works).


"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Cindi Blyberg's picture

oops, sorry, click failure. :( Didn't mean to post twice.