03 Oct 08 Website Update

As you may be aware, we unveiled our newly redesigned website with a brand new information architecture on Monday, September 22nd, 2008. As with many projects of this scale, some glitches have arisen as a result of the transition. A few items tested before go-live surprised us by breaking after go-live, causing a great deal of grief for everyone involved.

ITTS has been addressing the following items since the launch:

E-Commerce & Login Issues

  • Some people who were joining, renewing, donating or registering received error messages at the very end of the process.
  • Double log-ins were required when renewing.

Members-only content

  • Log in for members-only content looped some people around.

Google Search

  • The Google search appliance had to be cleared of its indexing of the staging site, and re-set to crawl the new site before it could give useful results.

Redirects & Content Services Switch

  • Some of our sites with their own domain names made changes to their home page that required updating the content services switch.
  • In an effort to reduce the number of redirects in use on site, we are reviewing, pruning, and renewing redirects as appropriate.

Shadow Assets (fixing broken links)

  • This is an ongoing process. The content management system identifies broken internal links for maintenance by the appropriate unit staff.

We’re experiencing some stability issues with one of our web servers and are devoting as many resources as possible to this problem. While working to solve the problem, we’re monitoring the server closely to minimize service interruptions.

We have successfully addressed the e-commerce, log in, and search engine issues. We continue to refine redirects and resolve broken links. We’re still researching the members-only issue, which no longer loops people around.

26 Sep 08 Oh, those redirects … and your bookmarks …

As has often been noted, it is impossible to make a souffle without cracking some eggs. We are in the process of transforming 60,000 pages so that any of them that link through the left navigation end in index.xml, a method that allows users to get to them by typing in the name of the parent directory. Others have been detached from their navigation and grouped onto listing pages with like information, to make it more convenient for users to locate information by topic. (Yes, topical aggregation, a concept familiar to librarians everywhere.) The topical groupings also make it possible for us to review documents generated by any ALA unit and to plan for updating and logical expansion of the available offerings.

Sixty-thousand redirects was and is far more redirects than we have the staff to make, and what that many redirects would do to the website speed of delivery makes me cringe. Common redirects to the division, round table, and office pages have been updated and deployed. Now that the site has been launched, we can analyze the 404s (page not found) to help us determine which redirects are really needed. Naturally, your bookmarks have broken, since many site resources have been relocated and in some cases, renamed. Whether you believe it or not, we lost a lot of sleep over the issue of the redirects. We did put server rules in place to funnel users to content. And Karen Muller of the ALA Library has been responding to requests for information on the location of ‘misplaced’ files in a very timely fashion, via the feedback form on the site.

Our Google appliance crawled the staging site, which was necessary to test it. Unfortunately, it cached more information than we expected. When the staging site files were moved to become the new live site, the search results still provided some links pointing to staging, where the files no longer existed. Starting at 5:00 today, we are clearing the appliance and resetting it to crawl the live site continuously over the weekend.

This was, as you may have noticed, more than a redesign. It is a user-centered reorganization of the site’s resources, and there will be additional user testing at Midwinter to further refine our approach. I hope you will take the time to explore the site, become familiar with its new structure, and that over the next year, you will see continuous improvement in usability and accessibility, as well as an expansion of the materials available.

I welcome your feedback, either here or via that aforementioned website feedback form. I also get those messages. ; )

Louise Gruenberg


29 Aug 08 Website Updates

All of ALA is working hard to get everything ready on the new website. We’re still a couple of weeks away from “flipping the switch,” but you can see the progress at For updates on the progress as we near the launch, we’ve started a new page at, which will be the official place to find the latest status report. The list of 10 key performance objectives are listed there at the moment, and we’ll start updating progress on them after Labor Day.

We’re just as excited as you are to be so close to the big event!

22 Jul 08 Transition to New Website Design & Architecture

ITTS has completed the first stage of the information architecture changes recommended by the usability studies. Members were provided with a preview of the site at Annual Conference and were excited by what they saw, and wanted to know when the redesigned site would launch.

After several weeks of careful study and conversations with various ALA managers, we have come to the conclusion that the best approach to our transition to the new site and new web architecture will be to:

1. “lock down” the current ALA website for the month of August (this means that we will not publish updates with the exception of news and news releases),

2. spend the next six weeks reorganizing the existing content into the new architecture and publishing it to the staging site,

3. deploy final changes to the staging site over the Labor Day weekend and make the staging site the new site with the new architecture on September 1st.

1. Prior to July 31st, web content managers make any editing changes needed to refresh the current site, which will be frozen in that form until the transformed site goes live.
2. On August 1st, publishing (deploy) privileges are locked down until go-live, although all other Collage access remains.
3. During the month of August, web content managers transform (move, rename, categorize) their content into the new IA, assisted by Louise Gruenberg & Sean Bires. Donavan Vicha & Rob Carlson. Some units may not be able to finish, but Louise will help them prioritize so that everything essential is completed before they go live.
4. The transformed areas of the site are published to the staging server, allowing for troubleshooting of problems. Note: Members can be sent to the staging site to see new content. They can also view press releases & the news on the current or staging site.
5. On September 1, the site goes live in the new design with the new Google search appliance with its enhanced features.
6. ITTS continues to provide support for the completion of the tasks that could not be finished by the go live date.

18 Jul 08 ITTS Update Meeting – July 15, 2008

1. Web

* Website Redesign (Karen)
Change in where you’ll post information to within the website
Might not be “under your office” by default anymore — might be where it best fits by topic
Membership units vs. organizational units – organizational units might have reduced number of pages under “their” section; instead, content from all units will get mashed together by topic
Showed “contact us” as one new, revamped area

Toured the various left-hand navigation menus and explained what is now in each of them (eg, scholarships are now in “education,” not “awards”)

Have broken the news up into 3 main categories
– National/International Views – regular news from American Libraries
– Inside ALA = our press releases
– Legislation & Advocacy

* Knowledge Management System (Karen)

The KM system has a new look!
Toured the new interface
Showed list of magazines checked in today
Showed how you can search databases without having to log in to each one
Site now shows a tag cloud of resources the Library is bookmarking in

* Website Redesign (Rob and Louise)
Some of the new IA is going to be created by staff tagging via a new tagging system
The tagging matches the IA exactly — it’s only available on “ALA live” document type
Showed how to tag items in Collage
Question about rolling up an ACRL event up to Upcoming ALA Events – will check on that
Division sites may become smaller as their resources are located in more main areas
If a division uses this, the page will appear branded elsewhere in the site, not just within the division’s pages

* New Google Search Features (Rob)
Just before Annual, Rob installed some code behind the search box on the home page of the preview ONLY
Google Search Appliance doesn’t do pagerank, so we’ve been working with a consultant to improve the SERP — Search Engine Results Page
First hit (if available) will be an “ALA suggestion” that we configure (example, Newbery)
We can put in any number of these
Next set of hits will be “results from Google” that do use pagerank because the search is run from the big Google search engine; set is limited to hits
Last section is results from content on our server, which has been cleaned up considerably
– this content is more granular; it just doesn’t have the same sheen of authority that Google or the direct keyword match give it
This customized SERP will eventually be the default for every results page
Have the ability to customize sections for searching and to brand search results for divisions/units
Still have to work with the consultant on including search results from blogs and wikis

Will present two options for implementing the redesign at the unit manager’s meeting tomorrow; decision will be noted in the meeting minutes

** Note that the decision was made to freeze the site for 30 days to do the migration
** Watch for more details about this here on the blog

2. Association 2.0

* Online Communities Update (Jenny)
not much to report yet but work is continuing
Drupal has been installed for about a month, and Urban Insight is installing modules and implementing the interface
work is beginning on the iMIS authentication
the response at Annual was very positive – many members are looking forward to using the new service
Jenny will be doing a task analysis for each module/tool and will post the steps to this blog – please have your committees provide feedback on these! thank you 🙂

* New Capabilities (Matt)
Matt will be providing instructions soon for how to migrate your b2e blog or wiki from the ALA server to Dreamhost

* Demo of how to use OPAL (Sherri and Jenny)
Sherri and Jenny logged into an OPAL room with member Aaron Dobbs
Sherri spoke with Aaron via voice over IP through the computer while Jenny communicated with Aaron via a text chat window

ALA has 4 OPAL rooms available for staff and members to use – 2 rooms with 25 seats each, 1 with 50 seats, and 1 with 100 seats
ALA staff and/or members can use these for meetings, discussions, presentations, and other ALA-related activities for free right now
members can reserve a room by contacting their staff liaisons

Louise sent out documentation for how to book these rooms in Outlook back in March and they are loaded in the KM systemOPAL offers text chat with the option to save the transcript, co-browsing, audio discussions, a whiteboard, and uploading of files for a meeting
the audio portion can be saved to your desktop as an MP3 file you can then post to a blog as a podcast
– or you can post the audio file to a web page so others can download or listen to it (this is not called a “podcast,” though)

you can password-protect a room for private discussions
you can have one way audio for just the presenter

staff are encouraged to purchase a headset to use with OPAL if they are going to use it more than once or twice, as it’s much easier to hear and be heard this way
headsets are not very expensive and can be purchased for around $25 – Maribeth has information if you’re interested

3. Keeping up with developments (Sherri)
Blog w/RSS Feed –
Wikis – ;

4. Q&A / Wrap-Up
No questions at the end this time

20 Jun 08 Annual 2008 WAC Meeting and Report

At the 2008 Annual Conference, the Website Advisory Committee meeting will take place on Monday, June 30, from 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. in Room 202B in the Convention Center. If you’re coming to the meeting or playing along at home, here are the agenda and the latest ITTS Report (both PDFs). Committee members who have agenda changes or additions should bring them to the meeting.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please ask away in the comments. See you in Anaheim soon.

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