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Sherri Vanyek (non-member)'s picture

ITTS Report to WAC, June 2013

1.0 ALA Web-Related

1.1 Registration and Housing Application

Our registration vendor, CompuSystems (CSI), has addressed our accessibility issues in their software and we will be performing accessibility testing this summer.  We’ll also be switching to a newer, more accessible version of our housing software from onPeak for Midwinter 2014.

1.2 Conference Websites

Starting with the 2013 Midwinter Meeting, we were finally able to unify the conference website with the scheduler. Along with deprecating the standalone wiki, this means users can now find all of the information about an ALA conference in one place and that content is now permanently archived.

Feedback about this change has been positive, and we’ve seen double the normal usage of the Annual scheduler as a result of integrating it into the conference website, as well as much earlier usage.

We’ve taken a team-based approach to the conference websites in order to launch them much earlier in the timeline. We now work with Conference Services, Production Services, and ALA’s Marketing Director to design, create, and populate the conference sites completely in-house, thereby saving ALA money.

Thanks to this new approach, the 2014 Midwinter site will go live after Annual, which is two months earlier than in the past. The 2014 Annual website is slated to go live in August, well in advance of past launch dates. We plan to continue improving the content on the sites to make it easier to find information and automate more of the session data displays in order to save further staff time.

The plan to add ratings to session records in the scheduler has been postponed due to funding issues, as has further development of the mobile apps for offline access.

1.3 New Event Management System

We had several planning sessions with key internal stakeholder’s resulting in the selection of e-Show to replace Conference Services’ program/meeting room request session placement system.  The new centralized system will be used to gather, evaluate, and select programs, as well as handle the placing of sessions across the conference campus and will incorporate a public proposal process for all ALA units for the first time.   The system’s data will be integrated with the conference scheduler and will include room and resource data. Parts of the new system will begin launching in July 2013 for the Midwinter 2014 meeting.

1.4  ALA Connect

The dust has settled from the interface redesign, and for the most part the site has been humming along. An issue with chat was discovered in April, which we’re still trying to resolve since we’re using a contributed Drupal module that we didn’t write. We’re also still investigating issues with the iMIS web service not synchronizing all roster appointments properly.

However, in general no major work has been done on Connect due to the priority placed on other projects. In April we ran a poll to solicit feedback about email notifications, which we still hope to improve later this year, along with other features such as Doodle-like poll functionality.

1.5 Merged Profile Implementation

We’re working on a project that will make it possible to merge the profiles from ALA Connect and the member profiles available on ala.org into one master profile, available for editing from either location, and using Shibboleth for single sign-on. The wireframes for the edit and display screens of the profile have been designed, and the new fields required have been implemented in iMIS, our association database. Eventually much of the profile data currently stored in ALA Connect will be shifted to iMIS. The product we are configuring for profile display and editing is produced by Computer System Innovations (also known as CSI). We hope to launch the new profile system in the fall.  This project was scheduled to launch prior in late 2012 but has experienced several delays due to lack of staff resources.

1.6 Plan & Implement Solr Integration

Our Google Mini Search Appliance in use on ala.org is no longer supported by Google, so we’ll be replacing it with Apache Solr Search, an open source search engine. Our plan is to start with ala.org and then integrate other ALA microsites in the ala.org Drupal installation.  This initial implementation will also include adding search facets such as content types, subject heading, and more.

The second phase of the Solr integration will make it possible for users to search the newly-merged master profiles, which will become our online Member Directory (and will also include non-members the way Connect does now). Search and display options for non-members will be far more restricted than for members.  The third phase will include federated and faceted search for ALA Connect.

1.7 Shibboleth Update for Cadmium CD

We are working with Cadmium CD on single sign-on with our Shibboleth implementation.  Cadmium CD will be recording conference programs and making them available for registrant access.

1.8 Blogs & Wikis

Vandalization and spamming of our wikis has become an increasingly larger problem. Wiki administrators were prompt in fixing the issues.

We rolled out a virtual web hosting platform onsite and are almost finished with the migration of wikis and blogs off of DreamHost.  A handful of blogs and wikis were retired when the owners did not think they should be migrated to the in-house server. Wikis and blogs have received tremendous performance increases due to the new server hardware they are on.

Wikis were upgraded to 1.21.1, which was a major version upgrade.

Wordpress was upgraded to 3.5.1.

1.9 CMS Migration Project & Review of Recent Improvements

Press release processing and publication was shifted from the americanlibrariesmagazine.org site to the ALA News & Press Center at ala.org/news. All site feeds and news tabs were updated to ensure that any area displaying news continued to do so.

We have not yet rolled out a global calendar that can be filtered by event type, unit, etc., but expect to do this soon.

Recent site improvements include the ability to pull tagged content onto listing page displays from one or many microsites. This makes it possible to build areas like Transforming Libraries, or to simply build dynamically generated pages on your own division or round table site.

1.10 American Libraries Magazine

American Libraries Magazine’s website content was migrated from a Drupal 6 hosted environment to an in-house Drupal 7 installation and went live on June 6, 2013. We are still fine tuning the look and features of the site, and working on performance issues.

2.0 Working with Stakeholder Groups

2.1 New Web Working Group Iteration

The Web Working Group conveners suggested a new structure for the group to consist of a smaller core group meeting frequently. The group would tap other staff members to serve on ad hoc task forces and special project groups as required. Their plan was approved by CEO Keith Fiels and the ALA Unit Managers.

The new Web Management Group (WMG) will be responsible for supporting ALA’s mission by developing the ALA website into a 21st century communications and marketing tool. The WMG will consult with member groups and convene staff task forces as needed to:

  • Develop and maintain the site’s objectives and strategic plan.
  • Assist ITTS with the technology development roadmap for the site.
  • Review usability studies and make recommendations.
  • Approve homepage and/or theme changes.
  • Assist when site and microsite stakeholders require assistance with planning and change management.
  • Identify areas where improvements in site organization and communications would be beneficial, and either work directly with stakeholders or convene a task force of individuals with expertise and interest in a specific area.
  • Evaluate proposed best practices and recommend their adoption.
  • Oversee the ongoing progress of special projects, such as homepage redesigns.

The new Web Management Group will be composed of the Director of ITTS, Marketing, Membership, ALA’s Sr. Usability Officer, and two positions that will rotate annually: a representative from the ALA Division Directors and an Advocacy position to be filled by a representative from Washington Office, OIF, OLA, Diversity or OLOS.

The existing Homepage Redesign Taskforce will work with the Web Management Group. It is composed of Louise Gruenberg (ITTS), Jan Carmichael (PIO), Rebecca Gerber (ALA Library), Jen Habley (AASL), and Dan Kaplan (Publishing).

3.0 Infrastructure & System Upgrades

3.1 Exchange Upgrade

ALA’s email server was scheduled to be upgraded from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 in February 2013.  The migration was postponed due the vendor’s failure to provide a synchronization script to work with Exchange 2010, which allows us to update our user, group, and alias information needed for Sympa list routing.  We are working with our vendor to come up with a new solution.  This version will improve remote access and provide better support across browsers.

3.2 Virtualization

Our virtualized environment is enabling us to clone servers for our live, development and testing environments.  When the American Libraries Magazine (ALM) website was moved from an off-site Drupal 6 to in-house Drupal 7 server, we experienced some initial performance challenges. We were able to clone our web server and prune all non-ALM microsites in a few hours, resulting in improved performance for both sites

3.3  Infrastructure Upgrades

We established a virtual web hosting platform onsite and are almost finished with the migration of wikis and blogs off of DreamHost.  We have begun enhancements to backup-to-disk service for on-site, short-term backup.  We have also begun our initial investigation into  support for Windows 7 workstation deployments for staff.

3.4 Sympa Upgrade

Postponed for the foreseeable future as higher priority projects have been assigned.

3.5 Moodle Courseware Software

There were several incidents with 123flashchat, which is our chat provider. We were able to fix chat promptly. Other than this, Moodle has been stable and performing well. There has been discussion about migrating Moodle off of Dreamhost, but blog and wiki migrations have taken priority.

3.6 Dreamhost

We’ve been migrating sites off of Dreamhost in large numbers due to frequent outages on their servers. Most blogs and wikis have been migrated, but there are a few sites that are more problematic due to their high profile or the vast amounts of data they house. The remaining blogs and wikis to be migrated are:

District Dispatch (the Washington Office’s blog)


PIO blog

wikis.ala.org (original multsite installation of ALA wikis)
YALSA blog and wiki

3.7 ALA App Developer Accounts

ITTS recently took on the role of maintaining the Apple developer account. We have been working with Ora Interactive to bring the new version of the YALSA app to release. The final version was uploaded and is in the process of being approved by Apple.

ITTS is also now coordinating the ALA Google Play account for Android app submissions.

3.8 Training Report

Drupal: On Demand Learning via ala.org/support

Users with internet access now have the capability to add, manage and enhance Drupal web content at their convenience, 24/7.  In addition to accommodating requests for live sessions, ITTS Training has enabled web editors at all levels to master every task they need to be able to accomplish with the release of the new Drupal Sandbox found at http://www.ala.org/support/drupal.The Sandbox is a collection of how-to videos and a practice space.

Drupal: Streamlined, Self-Paced Access 

Users have more control over when they obtain rights, as they can now simply prove their capability using the self-paced aspect of the Drupal Sandbox.  By completing the tasks (based on the level of rights needed), access rights are granted. Users with previous web experience as well as those who choose to participate in live or on-demand learning offered by ITTS can attempt Sandbox tasks at anytime for learning feedback and engagement.   Since September 2012, 45% of users who participated in Drupal training (17 of 37 tracked) took advantage of the self-paced, Sandbox learning component.

Adobe Connect:  ALA Specific Processes

Since September 2012, several ALA specific processes have been developed to aid in the implementation of Adobe Connect (the webinar software that replaced iLinc in FY 2012-2013).  ITTS Training has since developed and delivered:

  • A system for managing the shared license usage;
  • User capability for meeting and event setup;
  • User capability and troubleshooting hosting session rooms;
  • Banner and speaker image templates for to aid with branding of ALA offered web events;
  • Best Practice training sessions to place in an Adobe Connect session and template documents were shared for hosting sessions;
  • Detailed How-to for managing and initiating blended audio (VoiP and phone broadcasting);
  • Clarification in deployment and use of the Content Library, including editing tips for recorded content.

Social Media Group Brownbag Support

ITTS Training is proud of its collaboration with the Social Media Working Group in FY 2012-13.  In that role we have:

  • Developed a branding format for Brown Bag events using Adobe Connect;
  • Managed an archive of recorded sessions and made them available on http://www.ala.org/support/brown-bag-sessions;
  • Delivered a session for image editing and creation using the Microsoft Office tools.

4.0 2013 Upcoming Projects

4.1 Ecommerce System Implementation

This project has not yet been awarded because funding was postponed until the FY2014 budget. Proposed changes to ALA pricing rules will affect whether the original RFP will have to be amended or rewritten entirely. Ecommerce is essential to ALA’s strategic plan, so it is very important that we proceed in a way that supports our mission and long range vision.

4.2 Homepage Redesign, Responsive Theme & Mobile CSS

With tablets and cell phones becoming more popular every day, it makes sense for ALA to implement a responsive theme. Such a theme will make it easier to implement desired changes to the homepage and also make it possible to accommodate site visitors using devices with differently-sized screens.

4.3 ALA Connect Migration to in-house servers

This project has been postponed to 2014 due to lack of staff resources.

4.4 Upcoming Division/Office Projects that Impact ITTS

Several blogs originally written on American Libraries Magazine are being migrated to other parts of the website. The member and student member blog, the Ask a Librarian blog and others will be shifted in the next few months.

The Development Office is working on a Planned Giving microsite.

4.5 Committee Appointment System

This project has been postponed until FY2014.  This system will include an improved interface on the website, a more consistent look across those units using the volunteer form, and better navigation through the form.  We are also improving the administrative interface for staff.  The system collects and manages member committee appointment information in our iMIS 15 association management system database, and displays some of the information online.

4.6 New Financial System

Funding for a budgeting system using Prophix was postponed until FY2015.

4.7 Election Single Sign-on Implementation

We worked with Survey and Ballot Systems (SBS) to provide single sign-on using web services for the 2013 ALA election.  The launch was postponed because we ran out of time to implement and perform load balancing on our web servers.  We plan to revisit this implementation for the 2014 ALA election.

Please let us know if you have questions about any of these items.