11 Jan 18 New ALA Connect Pilot Launch: Sessions At Midwinter

ITTS is planning to launch LLAMA, as a pilot in the New ALA Connect!

  • We will gather feedback while giving the New Connect a test run.
  • ALA, remaining Divisions and Round Tables will be launched in Spring 2018.
  • The integration of the Work-Space module, (featuring native polls, collaborative documents, and more) will be released after the launch, as part of Phase II.
  • Training and demos will be offered during Midwinter.  Session times/dates can be found at
  • Registration for training after Midwinter is currently available, and can be found at More dates may be added, if needed.
  • Check out the link to the live, cloud-based Project Plan for latest up-to-date details on the launch progress.

This decision will help us avoid serious security vulnerabilities as well as save the cost of having to maintain, support and upgrade two systems. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions.


Pamela Akins
Community Engagement Specialist, ITTS, x4210
American Library Association
50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611, 6th floor  312-280-4210

29 Nov 17 ALA Connect Project Update

We’ve been working hard to launch the new ALA Connect on January 2, 2018, but we’ve run into enough issues with the Higher Logic implementation that we need to postpone the launch until March. As a result, we will keep the current ALA Connect available until after the 2018 Midwinter Meeting.

We’re now working with Higher Logic on a revised project plan that will take the following points into account.

  • Higher Logic missed the deadline for our 2nd test migration by nearly 3 weeks. In our 2nd test migration our vendor (Higher Logic) encountered a number of items that needed to be addressed so that we have a smooth real-time migration in March.  These were important discovery items in our quality assurance processes, and affected our timeline.
  • There was a 3rd test migration process that began on November 17, 2017 (which did not affect how you use the current ALA Connect). We are currently verifying the groups, users, and content migration.
  • Higher Logic fixed a launch-stopping bug related to functionality with our nested hierarchies.
  • We will use the time between January and March 2018 to implement new features that were previously unavailable: native polls and collaborative documents.
  • The Division Membership Working Group has made remarkable progress in recommending a plan for implementing Automation Rules, as well as design enhancements to leverage the use of Higher Logic’s engagement tools for the division home pages.

Please feel free to reach out to Pam Akins with any questions or issues.

28 Sep 17 Network Outage

We experienced an outage of one of our core network switches this morning around 9:00am.  Internal and external services were affected. The outage lasted for about 30-40 minutes. The switch is back up and working. We are investigating the root cause.

Website logins were affected for a brief time as well.

Thank you for your patience.


13 Sep 17 New ALA Connect Project Implementation Update

While we are working to bring the new ALA Connect online, we have made the existing ALA Connect available again to make group, committee, and community updates, share documents, and other tasks at .  Any data entered there will be migrated to the new ALA Connect before launch.

The new ALA Connect is getting closer to meeting our needs, and we are very excited about the functionality the Higher Logic platform offers us.

Since our vendor confirmed the completion of the original migration of the more than 1,900 communities, we have been checking data integrity and ease of use. We have identified some missing communities and other data issues, and learned late last week it will take additional time to resolve the remaining migration issues.

We will notify you once we have a confirmed revised launch date for the new ALA Connect.

01 Sep 17 ALA Connect Launching October 2nd

The import of the data from our previous ALA Connect database into the New ALA Connect system took much longer than anticipated by our vendor.  This delay hindered our ability to perform testing and staff/member training. In addition, ALA has decided to implement some additional features, enhancements, and more training resources prior to launch. To provide an optimal member experience the launch has been rescheduled to Monday, October 2nd, 2017.


Please visit the ALA Connect resource page to schedule training.

23 Aug 17 ITTS Outage Alert: 9/8/2017 @ 5pm: Upcoming Server Room Power Interruption

We will be installing a new Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) System on Friday, September 8th at 5:00pm.  All of our server hardware will be shut down during the installation.  This includes most of our web presence. Some Cloud resources, such as Office 365, will be unaffected.  We estimate the outage will last at least 4 hours while the transfer takes place. ALA Staff must log off their workstations before 5pm.

 Thanks in advance for your cooperation!


09 Aug 17 ALA Connect “Gray-Out” begins tomorrow

Be advised that tomorrow is the last day that users will have access to ALA Connect, before the scheduled Gray Out.

At the end of business on August 10th, user logins to will be blocked, as we transition into the New ALA Connect which is scheduled to launch on August 31, 2017.

14 Jul 17 Information on the New ALA Connect

The ALA is always looking for ways to enhance your experience as a member and active participant. Our commitment is to provide you with tools that enhance communication, education and the ability to continue to build your online community of like-minded professionals.

As you may already know, ALA Connect is our online space where official ALA groups work together. It’s also ALA’s online community platform where users (aka communities of interest) within the library profession can connect, learn, express and engage on a variety of topics.

Coming Soon – NEW ALA Connect

The NEW ALA Connect platform is being upgraded to a new and more flexible system that will be powered by Higher Logic. Please be aware that not all the features shown will be available upon initial release but may be offered in future upgrades.

A great new feature is that Divisions and Round Tables will now have their own branded space to communicate, search and collaborate. Some of the other new features will include: a more stable platform, a more uniform system that will be easier for us to maintain, and additions such as badging and ribbons.

What’s Happening and When?

In order to maintain the integrity of your information within our current system and transfer it to the new system, we will have to prevent new information input for a period of time, which we will refer to as a “Gray-Out” period.

Here is a current timetable of the system upgrade:

  • Effective EOB Thursday, August 10th, the current Connect will be locked out for logins for all users. This will help us to prevent new posts while we move the data from the current system into the NEW ALA Connect.
  • Only public content will be able to be viewed during this time and users will not be able to make any edits or new posts to the system.
  • This “Gray-Out” period will be in effect until the upgrade is complete and the new site is launched, planned for August 31, 2017.

Communications and Training
Starting next week and throughout the “Gray-Out” period, expect weekly updates and reminders that will include links to video shorts of new features as well as quick how-to’s of common tasks in the new system.  We will also be sending emails with the same tips and a link to the corresponding video.
These will include information on the new and improved functionality, features that will be going away, and a sneak peek of what’s coming in future phases of the NEW ALA Connect implementation.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Pam Akins at

16 Jun 17 Discussion Document for Building the Next 5 Year Plan for ALA Technology

The Discussion Document for Building the Next 5 Year Plan for ALA Technology is not intended to be comprehensive.  It does not address the future for some units, including Publishing, Conference Services, Human Resources, or the Election system.


Sherri Vanyek

Director, Information Technology & Telecommunication Services

American Library Association

30 May 17 Information Technology & Telecommunication Services (ITTS) Update

1.0 ALA Web-Related

1.1 eCommerce for Join/Renew/Rejoin/Donate

Since January 1, 2017, the system has processed 10,350 dues and 721 donations. We have received several compliments on the new system. The Development Office reports that ALA has seen increased donations in response to their efforts, which are supported by the ease of use of the new system. In general, people seem to really like it. We are continuing to plan for refinements and extensions.

1.2 New eStore and eLearning Ecommerce System

Re-integration with ALA Publishing’s fulfillment vendor having been completed, ITTS has been working with our implementation vendor on building a new eStore as quickly as possible. Designs and development are nearing their milestones for completion. Key integrations with fulfillment vendors, Publishing’s eLearning providers, and ALA systems are currently being finalized. Testing, content migration and training will follow once we have achieved sufficient progress with development.

The ALA-wide eLearning portion of the project will be accomplished as phases 2 and 3 of the eStore project—resulting in an integrated store that includes all eLearning events and products, with division offerings displayed both in their own exclusive areas and integrated into topical offerings.

1.3 Responsive Theme for ALA.ORG and Division Websites

We upgraded the servers and are now working on site migrations for the streamlined ALA information architecture. Staff are filling out the 2017 Redesign Form to get queued up to have their sites rethemed. We hope to have several rethemed sites ready by the time Annual rolls around.

1.4 Search Engine

We are close to launching the responsive design. As part of the retheming, we will change out the search box on each site to use the Google Search Appliance. The GSA will provide federated search results, when applicable.

1.5 New Generation ALA Connect

We are thrilled to announce that we have arrived at the testing phase the new ALA Connect.  Stakeholders and members of the Website Advisory Committee (WAC) have been sent a Test Plan. The plan includes credentials, instructions and access to a Bug Tracker to assist us. We are working on the setup of Division and Round table branding. The ALA Executive Board is also going to test the system prior to launch.

The new site includes 2-click navigation to any Division or Round table space in Connect, as well as a robust profile that allows users to update their address and demographic fields in iMIS. Demographics such as Interests, Type of Library and Ethnicity are a few fields now available to help members find common interests. Email notifications will be automatically turned on for all committee and community members, who can easily manage opt-outs, privacy and email frequency.

Upon launch, we plan to reward users who add a photo and complete at least 80% of their profile within the first 30 days’ post launch a chance to win BIG.  Details on this promotion will be forth coming.

When we are ready to launch, the current site will be locked down for two weeks to migrate content from the old ALA Connect to the new ALA Connect.  Training plans include over thirty (30) opportunities for LIVE training for staff and members (remote and in-person) as well as step-by-step training videos available to all users upon launch.  More details about the features, best practices and training schedules will be posted on ALA Connect and sent out soon.

1.6 Moodle

In Fall 2016, we upgraded the Moodle software to 3.0 and then combined our two Moodle courseware sites as recommended in the IT Review Report. The site is being used by ALA Publishing, the divisions and other units. 323 synchronous and asynchronous courses are currently listed and available to be offered or sold by ALA Online Learning or in the ALA Store.

1.7 Accessibility Testing Protocols

ITTS worked with a select group of members organized by Mike Marlin to accessibility test Blackboard Collaborate Ultra at the participant and moderator levels for members who use visual and/or auditory assistive devices. Because screen reader users had some trouble figuring out the interface, ITTS is asking Blackboard to help us schedule a test session just for screen reader users. On the whole, participants did think that it has potential for being ALA’s enterprise level, accessible meeting platform. More to come.

1.8 Shibboleth

ITTS is working to install Shibboleth single sign-on software for Digitell and eShow for AASL’s online recordings and National Conference registration systems, respectively.

1.9 Sympa List Serve

As part of our email migration, we changed our outbound mail routing for Sympa. Our minimum of 5,000,0000 messages per month limited our choices.  We selected MailChannels as a relay host. We’re working with them to refine their spam detection configuration to better suit our requirements.

2.0 Hardware & Software

2.1 New Telephone System

The implementation of the new telephone system was moved to the next fiscal year, which starts in September. The installation is planned for the fall of 2017.

2.2 Filr and File Migration

FILR was upgraded and rolled out for staff access to our internal file shares. Over the Memorial Day weekend, we moved network files to a new server with upgraded infrastructure and space for expansion.

2.3 Citrix

We are replacing our Citrix farm with the current version. This will improve external access to some of our applications and stabilize our internal financial system.

3.0 ITTS Organizational Changes

3.1 Staffing

I’m pleased to announce that Brian Willard, MBA, CAE has joined the ALA ITTS team in the position of Senior Business Intelligence Analyst/Project Manager in February 2017.  He reports to ITTS and ALA Marketing.

Brian will help us improve our business intelligence by interpreting data using a variety of techniques, ranging from simple data aggregation via statistical analysis to complex data mining. Brian will be responsible for equipping staff with information that will allow them to implement more strategic and targeted business strategies and outreach, increasing response rates and revenue while also delivering a more effective member experience.  He will work directly with staff to identify analytical requirements. He has knowledge of commonly-used concepts, practices, and procedures within the data marketing field. He will assist staff with data extraction projects from the membership database and present data in a usable format that meets their requirements.  He brings many years of experience managing IT projects; we plan also to use these skills and expertise to help manage ITTS projects and Division data mining projects.

We continue to have four ITTS staff members taking intermittent family leave for various reasons. Some of our timelines may have to be adjusted going forward.

3.2 New Proposed IT Advisory Committee Composition Recommendation to the Committee on Organization (COO)

We (the ALA Website Advisory Committee-WAC) met and discussed the comments on committee composition of the new IT Advisory Committee received from the ALA Committee on Organization (COO) for the proposed metamorphosis of WAC into the new IT Advisory committee. COO asked that the WAC consider altering the composition of the new committee to streamline or limit membership. WAC came to the conclusion that the composition of the committee is representative of the various parts of the association. WAC recommends keeping the composition the same. WAC will meet with COO at the Annual conference to justify this recommendation and obtain approval to move forward with the title change, charge change, and composition.