03 Jan 17 Information Technology & Telecommunication Services (ITTS) Update

1.0 ALA Web-Related

1.1 eCommerce for Join/Renew/Rejoin/Donate
Approximately 900 members have renewed through the new system.  There have also been around 251 donations. We had a few glitches which have required some fixes and data cleanups.  We have modified all the menu links on the ALA website to point to the new dues & donations eCommerce system.  Menu links on division sites (e.g., Join PLA) are now smart links that add the division into the cart for the user.

1.2 New eStore and eLearning Ecommerce System
ALA Publishing decided to accelerate the move from our current fulfillment vendor to another vendor to provide better customer service.  This required some store re-programming of the current store integration for the new vendor.  The new vendor took over on December 12, 2016.  This project became a priority for ITTS to assist Publishing with the integration work.

The eLearning ecommerce project has been moving forward but due to the lack of vendor support for the current online store the new online store project took priority.  We are now looking at launching an integrated store that includes both sites at approximately the same time in 2017.

1.3 Responsive Theme for ALA.ORG and Division Websites
We had to upgrade the infrastructure to the latest technology to be able to rollout the theming on the new sites.  We would like to rollout the new infrastructure to support the rollout of the new theme prior to Midwinter if possible. As Midwinter is fast approaching, we suspect this upgrade will occur afterward.

1.4 Search Engine
We have indexed most of the sites on the new Google Search Appliance (GSA), but we must launch the responsive design prior to the GSA rollout to avoid doing the search engine integration work twice.

1.5 New Generation ALA Connect
We have encountered unanticipated challenges with the new ALA Connect project implementation.  We will post a revised timeline after the Midwinter meeting.  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.  There will be training videos available to members.  More details about the features and the schedules can be found at in ALA Connect.

1.6 Moodle
This fall we upgraded the Moodle software to 3.0 and then combined our two Moodle courseware sites. Most of the courses have been migrated to the new site.  The site is being used by ALA Publishing, the divisions and other units.

1.7 Accessibility Testing Protocols
ITTS will be evaluating Blackboard Collaborate Ultra in January 2017 to see if it meets our accessibility standards.

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
As part of our email migration, we changed our outbound mail routing for Sympa.  Our monthly minimum of 5,000,0000 messages per month limited our choices.  We selected MailChannels as a relay host. There have been challenges.  Most are caused by a flaw in the MailChannels spam detection system.  They fail to detect a subject on messages, even though all Sympa messages have a subject.  Since they don’t detect a subject, the mail is bounced as spam. A large list (some of ours are over 6,000 subscribers) generates enough false positives that our account is flagged as sending spam, which results in a temporary ban on all email.  After providing detailed log reports to MailChannels, they have confirmed that they are investigating the bug. In the meantime, they have disabled this rule for our account. We have seen a vast improvement in mail delivery since this rule was disabled.  They are still actively investigating the issue.

2.0 Hardware & Software

2.1 Office 365
In early September, we successfully moved our email from our hosted provider to Microsoft to prepare a move to Office 365.  Office 2016 was successfully installed on 350 staff PCs.  The installation was completed on December 8, 2016. We are investigating our next Office 365 steps.

2.2 New Telephone System
ITTS has been meeting with our telecommunications consultant and various vendors to put a RFP together for a new telephone system.

2.3 Filr
We are upgrading staff access to our internal file shares.

2.4 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

Our new eStore System Project Manager, Steven Pate started December 5th. He is managing the implementation of the new online store, which will include online learning.  We are also searching for a data/business analyst to work with the divisions on member engagement.  We currently 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 Website Advisory Committee (WAC) Title and Charge Change
The ALA Website Advisory Committee recommends that the charge of the committee be expanded to include all ALA technology services and products, whether used by ALA members, staff, or the public.  They recommend the title be changed to the ALA Information Technology Advisory Committee. Ron Block, Chair of the ALA Website Advisory Committee, and Sherri Vanyek, Director ITTS, will meet with the Committee on Organization (COO) at the ALA Midwinter meeting in Atlanta for approval.

Sherri Vanyek, Director ITTS


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