ITTS Report to WAC, June 2014
1.0 ALA Web-Related
1.1 ATS Web Services
We acquired a new suite of iMIS web services from Association Technology Solutions (ATS). We plan to use them to read data from and write data to iMIS on several upcoming projects (e.g. Merged Profiles, replace older web services with conference vendors, etc.).
1.2 Merged Profile Implementation
We’re still working on a project that will make it possible to merge the profiles from ALA Connect and ala.org into one master profile, available for editing from either location, using Shibboleth for single sign-on. We hope to launch phase one of the new profile system in August. This project was scheduled to launch earlier, but has experienced delays due to lack of staff resources.
1.3 Solr Integration with ALA Connect
In May, we successfully migrated Connect to using Solr, which means search on the site now covers node content, comments, and files/attachments (pretty much everything). Since search results sets tend to be larger, facets and phrase searching can help reduce the bigger result sets. This fall, we’ll work on federated and faceted search between ALA Connect and ala.org.
1.4 Review of Recent Web Improvements
We’ve greatly improved our development, testing, acceptance, and deployment methodologies by installing new development and quality assurance servers for final testing before changes are sent to the production server.
We regularly perform security updates to various Drupal modules.
We configured the Honeypot module on all the ala.org microsites to provide behind the scenes protection from Spambots.
Several projects for improvements to the listing page and online learning content types are still in-process, but we expect to announce completion before the end of fiscal 2014.
It’s now possible for microsites to have multiple slideshows and feature tabs. Sub-themed areas can have their own look and feel, slides, and Twitter and RSS feeds. This is very useful for special events or other initiatives.
1.5 New Event Management System
ALA is still discussing the simplification of the event management process and exploring options for a new vendor. Conference Services will continue to use the previous company, ActiveEvents, until a new system is selected. We plan to try again to implement a new system in March 2015 for Annual 2016.
1.6 ALA Connect
Several new enhancements will be rolled out before Annual:
- Solr search integration (as noted in 1.3)
- Opportunities Exchange - Working with the Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR) we’ve added the hundreds of assistantship, grant, internship, and scholarship opportunities in the Financial Assistance for Library & Information Studies (FALIS) Directory. This makes the FALIS data searchable by multiple criteria, and users can get new opportunities that match their interests emailed to them.
- Meeting Requests - Thanks to David Vess and Veronica Douglas for helping test this feature that lets users poll group members for a meeting date and then create a calendar event from the best option.
- Email in to Connect groups - As you’ve seen with the WAC group, this feature that allows group members to start a new discussion via email is up and running.
- Direct links to attachments in notifications - Now when someone attaches a file to a node, there’s a direct link to the file in the email notification.
We also spent quite a bit of time trying to replace Online Docs with Etherpad, open source software that’s similar to Google Docs. We did get it working and it works a lot like Google Docs (including live comments in real-time), but in the end we were unable to make it ADA-compliant despite multiple efforts.
This is a good example of how we could make Connect “slicker” and add more “bells and whistles,” but we decline to do this at the expense of accessibility. Therefore, we’ll continue to provide the current Online Docs content type as an accessible alternative to Google Docs.
1.7 Blogs & Wikis
Several blog upgrades have been rolled out, with Wordpress to 3.9.1 being the most recent. We have also started offering blogs on ala.org using the Drupal blog module.
Several wiki upgrades have been performed, with Mediawiki 1.22.7 being the most recent.
We’ve reviewed the ALA sites hosted by DreamHost, with the goal of reducing our reliance on their services. We went from over 80 domains to under 30 hosted there due to sites moved in-house or retired.
Moodle and RDAtoolkit continue to be served from DreamHost. There are some wikis still served under the umbrella wikis.ala.org. Their migration will take several days, so we’re waiting until after Annual Conference when those wikis can be down for a longer period of time. A few blogs remain at DreamHost as users are still migrating data.
Over 30 redirects are currently in place redirecting domain names to the new relocated sites
Five domains continue to use DreamHost for DNS hosting.
Fifteen websites are still using DreamHost, which is where we host sites that are not compatible with our primary site.
One file repository exists on DreamHost to allow users to present downloadable content.
YALSA blogs remain on DreamHost as their footprint remains too large to bring in house.
We worked with Experient to enable Shibboleth single sign-on for the ACRL conference registration and are working with Urban Insight to implement it on ALA Connect later this year.
1.10 Sympa Upgrade
A new virtual server has been created and planning has begun for the Sympa migration and upgrade. The upgrade will be complex because of the volume of lists and list archives and the fact that we are several major releases behind in the software.
1.11 iMIS 20 Update
The iMIS 20 upgrade is scheduled for late August. We ran into some difficulties when we tried to integrate the old ecommerce site to work with the new iMIS 20 application. We have also experienced delays due to resource limits of both staff and our consultants. iMIS 20 is the foundation for the new ecommerce system.
2.0 Working with Stakeholder Groups
We helped create microsite initiatives for American Dream @your library, http://www.ala.org/advocacy/literacy/americandream, Librarians Build Communities http://www.ala.org/groups/lbc and AASL’s Essential Links (still in process, unpublished). Microsite initiatives are part of ALA’s Drupal installation but use a different theme than the standard ALA template.
We also implemented a blog in Drupal for Libraries Transforming Communities, http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/libraries-transforming-communities/blog.
2.1 Web Management Group Report
The staff Web Management Group (WMG) is responsible for making the ALA website a 21st century communications and marketing tool. The WMG consults with member groups and convenes staff task forces as needed. Follow the group at http://connect.ala.org/wmg. The WMG has published Strategic Objectives for ALA.org and ALA Website Guidelines, which are available in a new section of the ALA Tech Support Site called Web Strategic Planning Docs. A member or staff login is required to access the documents.
2.2 Social Media
The Social Media Team continues to coordinate ALA’s three primary channels (Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter). Despite a lack of staff capacity to focus on Google Plus, we have more than 73,000 followers there, and it’s already our largest following by far. Facebook and Twitter continue to grow, and we experiment with Instagram. We’re working on plans to coordinate more efforts with our incoming President, Courtney Young.
The larger Social Media Working Group (SMWG) put together a new “Social Media Best Practices for Live Events” document for staff that will be available on the Support website.
We also want to highlight the new ALA Social Media Channels page on the ALA website. It replaces the old ReadWriteConnect wiki, which had become very out-of-date. This page lists all of the known ALA accounts and hashtags on social media sites. There’s also a form anyone can use to submit an update to keep the information current. The page is easily accessible from the “Related” tab in the ALA website template.
Due to resource limitations, units are being asked to fill out the form at http://www.ala.org/support/res/projectrequest (only available to ALA staff) to have their project request evaluated to determine whether it can be added to the queue.
3.0 2014 Upcoming Projects
Upcoming projects can be found at Technology Roadmap June 2014
4.0 Training Highlights
New Sessions Offered for Staff
- Informz Email Marketing Service
- Windows 7 Prep & Preview
- Changes to Outlook Web Access
- iMIS Casual Users Intro & Committees Overview
- Pivot Tables in Excel
- Print, Autofill & Subtotal in Excel
- Moodlers Overview
- Trained staff on the new Continuing Education Unit (CEU) tracking system
- Designed a new iMIS session focusing on Casual user tasks and Committees
- Partnering with MACS to offer an iMIS summit panel (coming FY 2015):
- Overview of processes and timing
- Clarity on basic reports all users should be able to pull.
- Best Practices for Full users in iMIS
- Opt-Outs and Image Wrapping instructions
- Template conversion: Mail Chimp to Informz
- Drupal Press Releases: Tag team with PIO
- Since last January (2014):
- 17 users have received training and been granted rights to edit web pages
- 13 users used self-paced option
- 4 attended a live session
Annual Conference Ambassadors Sessions in Adobe Connect
- Hosted two (2) live sessions for 2014 Annual Conference Ambassadors
- Setup in Adobe Connect; recording available after June 30, 2014
- Presenter: Paul Signorelli
- Recorded General Overview of accessing KM and updating your Staff Directory record
- Added Section under Outlook for Mobile Configurations of email
5.0 ITTS Organizational Changes
Our Systems Project Manager, Irene Marquez, resigned in May to relocate to Germany. After some reorganization and the addition of one position for fiscal 2015, we are now looking for two new full-time positions.
The first position will provision and maintain interactions between various ALA systems, assist staff with data extraction projects from the membership and financial databases, and present data in a usable format that meets their requirements.
The second position will have three primary areas of responsibility: ALA’s Association Management Systems and related components (iMIS), our financial system, and database administration. The position components will include, but not be limited to, data integrity, data remediation, data manipulation, and design and implementation of extensions to the Association Management Systems. This position will take a lead role in the maintenance of database servers and database/application interconnectivity, in particular interaction between the SQL databases and web applications.
6.0 ALA Strategic Technology Directions & Technology Roadmap Report
The ALA Information Technology & Telecommunication Services (ITTS) unit presented the ALA Strategic Technology Directions 2014-2017 to the ALA Executive Board in April 2014. It provides a good foundation for understanding the role of ITTS within ALA and how technology is implemented to meet the goals of the organization. We will continue to update the roadmap on the ITTS News blog with the latest information on project schedules.
Please let us know if you have questions about any of these items.