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!

04 Aug 08 2008 Annual Conference WAC Meeting Notes

The notes from the 2008 Annual Website Advisory Committee meeting are now available (PDF, 171KB). If you have questions, please post them in the comments so that we can answer them for everyone. Thanks!

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

21 Nov 06 Google Appliance Installation Update

The new Google search appliance was successfully installed with a minimum of disruption. In the process of configuring the new appliance, we set the indexing to cover ALA wiki and blog content as well. Many thanks to the departing Jack Briody for his swift and precise work!

21 Nov 06 Google Search Appliance Installation

We will install the new Google search appliance today at around 11:30 a.m. CST. Search will be unavailable for a brief time as we bring the old appliance down and get the new one installed and configured. We don’t expect this to take more than an hour. The website will continue to function; just search will be affected.

We apologize for the timing, but it’s necessary to do this now for at least two reasons: we are experiencing some instability with the old box (which may be due to licensing issues) and Jack Briody’s last day is tomorrow! Thanks for your patience.

31 Oct 06 Website Search Updates – October 2006

Other priorities have pushed the installation of the new Google search appliance off to November. Urchin has been purchased and installed.

28 Sep 06 Website Search Updates – September 2006

The replacement Google search appliance has arrived, and will be installed in October.

05 Sep 06 Website Search Updates – March 2006

March 2006

Contact has been made with Google to review available pricing options. Discussions are ongoing.

05 Sep 06 Website Search Updates – April 2006

April 2006

No change.