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2016 Annual Conference ITTS Report to WAC

1.0   ALA Web-Related

1.1 Ecommerce for Join/Renew/Rejoin/Donate

ITTS’ most significant project this year is the development and launching of a new dues and donations ecommerce system.  The system will make the join, renew, rejoin, and donation processes more straightforward for members. Members of the Executive Board, the Website Advisory Committee and ALA staff assisted with user acceptance testing so that we could compile a final list of bugs and requests for interface changes to better support the user experience. Our vendor is close to completing that work so we will be scheduling what we expect to be a final round of testing later this month. If all goes well, we expect to launch in July. ITTS staffers Sherri Vanyek, Tim Smith, Mitch Stein, Stan Kessler and Louise Gruenberg have been dedicating significant time to this project.

1.2 New Estore System

Due to support issues for the existing ALA Publishing estore, this project was moved up from fiscal 2017 so that work could begin this year. The store requirements document developed during three days of discovery sessions with ALA Publishing and ITTS runs to 34 pages. To expedite getting the new store ready, ITTS will begin exploring the possibility of a minimum-viable-product launch with ALA Publishing.

Because work began on the Dues & Donations project and eLearning Portal preceded the store, we are attempting to leverage all appropriate development and integrate whatever we can for a more seamless user experience. Shifting resources to this important project has impacted others, but we expect the new store to launch during calendar year 2017.

1.3 New Ecommerce eLearning Portal

ITTS has had to devote considerable resources to determining the functionalities of the event based web services available for iMIS so that progress on the eLearning portal, the one stop shop for online and small in-person event registrations, could proceed. We’ve been reviewing current ALA systems and processes so that the new site will streamline the user experience and reduce the effort required to create events, process and service registrations. We expect the portal will launch during fiscal 2016 or early 2017.

1.4 New Responsive Design for ALA.org

ITTS is working on the implementation of a responsive redesign for the main ALA website. The new development server required has been created and our vendor has successfully shifted the database onto it and begun planning and/or making updates to things like the version of PHP and code-repository software used.

Once we have a prototype of the ALA.org homepage with the new theme to share, ITTS will be scheduling sessions with division and other stakeholders to share a proposed timeline and discuss the resources required to apply the redesign to each microsite.  The current timeline for ALA.org calls for the homepage redesign and theme changes to occur early in fiscal 2017, with rolling changes to all other microsites happening thereafter, as fast as ITTS and their units can prepare them.

1.5 Search Engine for ALA.org

As reported in the Midwinter ITTS report to WAC, most of ALA.org is now using Google Custom Search to provide search results. However, we have been at work on the configuration of a Google Search Appliance. Testing of the search results for the specialized groupings and microsites has just begun. When results are satisfactory, the current ALA.org search boxes will be changed to point to the search engine.

To improve metadata collection on ALA.org, we have revised all relevant content management system templates to require the addition of metadata. Although not yet implemented on the live site, we’re testing the Drupal Metatag module on our QA site. The Metatag module can be configured with tokens to auto-fill various metadata fields across a number of standards, including Open Graph, Dublin Core and various social media fields. When the Metatag module is implemented on production, ITTS will schedule lunch and learn sessions for staff.

1.6 Next Generation ALA Connect

The following progress is being made on the installation of the New ALA Connect:

Model Site

We have a model site of the new Connect that can nest the Divisions, Round Tables and APA.  Although we suffered a setback waiting for needed changes that Higher Logic applied to their base code (for other clients, not just us) in late April 2016, we have begun initial testing of these capabilities in the new software.

iMIS Sync

With much effort and communication between ITTS and Higher Logic, we now have evidence of a working data sync between the ALA iMIS database and the new Connect test site. The iMIS data was initially synced over Memorial Day weekend.

What does this mean?

  • The team is working to confirm that the database connections accurately display changes made to the iMIS data in the new Connect test site.
  • Now that we can see ALA’s iMIS data in the test site, we can resolve issues and confirm everything is working properly.
  • The sync reveals the need to add iMIS fields for data that was either stored in Drupal, (i.e. profile data) or wasn’t previously captured.
  • As expected, the sync is revealing the need for data cleanup, in iMIS for consistency and usability.

Drupal Import

In addition to data stored in iMIS, the current ALA Connect has content and profile data in Drupal. The planned one-time import from Drupal will need to be timed carefully with the launch.  The team is working with Urban Insight (our Drupal consultant for ALA Connect) on a plan for this migration of data.

RFP for Design

Now that we can see what the microsites look like and how the various features work on them, we need an effective design that  allows users to easily flow between the divisions, ALA Offices, Round Tables, and APA.  The RFP for a consultant to design a usable and efficient interface is in its final stage and will be released in June 2016 to four select vendors with Higher Logic experience..  In the meantime, the team has partnered with ALA Production Services for theming for microsite branding to be deployed across the microsites so members know which site within they are on once they arrive on the new Connect site.

Modified Launch Date

The team hopes to be able to launch the New Connect in late fall 2016, FY 2017.

1.7 Accessibility Testing Protocols

ITTS continues to test the conference registration, program and recording sites for accessibility compliance before site launches. When sites are not in compliance, we work with unit staff and vendors to arrange for mitigation. Because it’s impossible to test with every possible platform, we appreciate receiving feedback about any accessibility issues that members or others experience, and always pass that information along to our vendors.

1.8 Shibboleth

ITTS will be working to install Shibboleth on all the new ecommerce sites before they launch.

1.9 Sympa

The implementation of Office 365 is underway and we’re looking at solutions for routing Sympa outbound email.

2.0 Hardware & Software

2.1 Office 365

ITTS is working on the implementation of Office 365, which provides staff with the ability to access and share files remotely.  The project will be divided into two phases.  The email migration and outbound routing of Sympa list server email will be the first phase and the installation of Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) will be installed in the second phase.  The first phase is scheduled to rollout this summer.

2.2 New Blade Servers

We purchased three new blade servers for our internal and external network to retire older blade servers that were about to go unsupported.  These new blade servers are faster and more efficient and will help support our new ecommerce systems and ala.org.

3.0 ITTS Organizational Changes

Julianna Kloeppel joined the ITTS team as our new elearning specialist in January 2016.  She trains staff on new and existing technologies used by ALA staff and members. Julianna  provided eight years of great customer service to members and staff of ALA’s Public Library Association. For PLA, Julianna worked on the awards program, committee appointments, coordination of financials, board and committee coordination, conference meeting scheduling and much more. She is sharing her expertise with iMIS, SharePoint and other ALA software and applications with all of ALA’s staff and member-leaders.

4.0 ALA Strategic Technology Directions Report

ITTS continues to work on priority projects outlined in the ALA Strategic Technology Directions Update: 2016-2017 report and a majority of the items outlined in the External IT Review Report.

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