06 Apr 17 Update on ITTS priority projects and the status of the ALA IT External Review Recommendations

The ALA Information Technology & Telecommunication Services (ITTS) report to the ALA Executive Board provides an update on ITTS priority projects and the status of the ALA External Review Recommendations for the remainder of FY2017 and beginning of FY2018.



12 Mar 10 Monday iMIS maintenance to affect member access to ALA Connect & website

We need to perform maintenance on iMIS, our association management software, and have an opportunity at end of day Monday, March 15th. During the time it will take to perform this maintenance, iMIS will be unavailable, as well as any portions of the web site that require login.  That includes meeting registration and access to member resources on the website and to ALA Connect.  The maintenance period will start at 5:00 P.M. Central Daylight Savings time and will last several hours if all goes well.

ITTS will install an announcement in ALA Connect to notify members. On Monday evening, the login page for the website will be replaced with a notification about the maintenance outage, suggesting that members return in several hours to try again. The public areas of the website, Moodle courses, blogs, and wikis will not be affected by this project, and will continue to be available to members throughout the upgrade.

Please forward this message to your lists, and post this information in any places that will help get it out to members.

19 Oct 09 Shutting down Online Communities

Now that ALA Connect has launched and usage is growing, ITTS is going to begin planning for the shutdown of the old Online Communities service at the end of this year.

There’s been only one login on the old site in the last 30 days, which was an accident by someone who meant to use Connect instead. We’re not sure if anyone is still using Communities, so we need your help spreading the word. Please let your committees, discussion/interest groups, sections, etc. know about this upcoming change so that they have time to migrate any existing content they want to keep in to ALA Connect.

All content a group wants to save will need to be migrated manually before December 31, 2009. Files will not be retrievable from Online Communities after that date. If any of your groups need advice about how to do this or have specific questions, please have them contact me directly at jlevine [at]


28 Oct 08 ITTS Update Meeting – October 28, 2008

1. Website Redesign/IA Rollout (Sherri and Karen)

the website is a work in progress
we’ve been focusing on stability issues with the ActiveMatter server (forms, ecommerce transactions, etc.)
– updated the Access databases to Microsoft SQL databases, restricted access to a small number of IP addresses to help address this issue
– this also let us restrict search engines from indexing old content
– got rid of tagged pages from the old ActiveMatter server

we’re in the process of upgrading to a new server with more disk space and a faster processor
– hope to have that done in the next week

working with Duo on tagged content displays, division news feeds, and RSS feeds on the home page

a few weeks ago, a few of us met with Michael Stephens, the current chair of the Web Advisory Committee and came up with two objectives for the site
– for current information (this requires a systematically consistent approach for tagging, etc.)
– a marketing tool

the Web Editorial Board will try to lead several initiatives in these areas
– encouraging staff with web responsibilities to add keeping the site current as a goal on their evaluations
– need some quality control to achieve this; will allow us to set goals (“get your shadow assets down 10% from where it is today,” etc.)
– revamping the Web Editorial Board into two separate teams
– “tag team” – will review the site structure, will consult with offices on restructuring content; create standards; review and finalize the web style guide; examining the website to determine to what extent it should be used as an archive; examining advantages and disadvantages of decentralized site management; tagging items for listing pages; checking for ALT text on images; proper page headlines; use of transcripts for audio and video files; procedural documentation; etc.
– “communications impact team” – encourage use of images, pods, etc.; consulting with units to develop individual areas of the site for maximum effect; optimizing pages; accessibility issues

the Web Editorial Board is going to expand and add more members

2. ALA Connect (Jenny)

just got back from vacation yesterday so hasn’t had a chance to check in with the development site to see recent changes made to the functionality
Urban Insight has successfully imported the active committees from iMIS and categorized them into “communities” (currently divisions), “committees,” and “events”
hope to have a demo to show on November 18, as we are hoping to alpha test in November and beta test in December for a roll out before Midwinter in January

3. Wiki Migration (Matt)

all wikis currently hosted at will be moved to Dreamhost domains because the server was never really intended to house these applications
Matt will be able to migrate 6-8 wikis each week without requiring the wiki owners to do anything
he’ll send out a message about this today or tomorrow
he’ll change nothing about your wiki, other than the beginnings of the URL (“” will become something like “” in the domain unless you specify otherwise) – basically, “wikis” just becomes your acronym

migrating the wikis to Dreamhost has some other benefits, including the addition of an audio captcha for spam control

all of this will happen over the next 4-5 weeks, and Matt will notify you when this is happening for your site
while your wiki is migrated, it will be down for 1-2 hours

everything in your current wiki will get migrated, including content, users, blocked users, images, files, etc.

4. Virtual Private Hosting (Matt)

if you already have blogs, wikis, or Moodle on Dreamhost, you may have noticed that it slows down from time-to-time
but earlier this month, we upgraded to “virtual private hosting” service, which means we’re now paying a monthly fee for reserved processor time and more importantly, memory

this means we’ll no longer be throttled back when other users overload the server, so speed and response time should improve dramatically and should be more consistent
we also have no maximum ceiling now, as our usage is burstable

if you do encounter problems, let Matt know right away because he has more options for troubleshooting now (such as rebooting our virtual server)

Moodle chat now works (insofar as Moodle chat works)

Matt also noted that when you use FTP on Dreamhost, make sure you’re using your domain name (eg,, rather than a server name

5. Meeting room resources in Outlook (Sherri)

coming soon – we’ll be implementing the ability to book meeting rooms in Outlook
just have to get this set up and will then send out a tech tip about it

6. Keeping up with developments
Blog w/RSS Feed –
Wikis –;

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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08 May 08 Online Communities Update (with Documents!)

ALA Connect logo It’s been a while since I posted about our Online Communities project, mainly because we’ve been putting things in place and ramping up to get started. Unfortunately, the RFP process took a week longer than we’d planned, and then it took a month for the lawyers to hammer out the contract. Having lost five weeks from our original timeline, we’ve had to revise our schedule.

That said, we are thrilled to finally be speeding full steam ahead with Urban Insight, the company we’ve hired to create our new Communities service in Drupal. UI submitted a very thorough proposal for the project, and we can report that they’re doing a great job so far getting things moving. More importantly, they’ve been essential in the planning process, which has been a big help.

Things are ramping up now, as we have a dedicated server in place specifically for this project. We’ve also contracted with UserWorks to design the interface. You may recognize this name as the company ALA has been working with to redesign our website, so they’ve already got a head start understanding our needs.

So given the initial delay, we’ve had to revise our schedule. It’s no longer possible to have a live, fully-functional product for Annual in June. However, we will have a working demo of a sample committee using the Web Advisory Commitee as an example. Our plan now is to spend July and August implementing all of the features and start beta testing in September. If all goes well, we’ll have a live product in October for use leading up to the Midwinter Meeting.

We’ve been working hard to get to this point, and I think it shows in the Requirements Document & CMS Architecture . This planning document will guide us through the development of this phase of the project, and soon we’ll have a Technical Specifications document to share here as well.

I want to provide some context for you as you read these documents, though. Phase one (which we’re in) involves replacing and enhancing our existing Online Communities service that is designed to allow members to collaborate virtually. In the new version, there will be more tools and they will be a little more social, in that you’ll be able to find fellow members with similar interests, create special interest groups on the fly (including ones such as “librarians who love dogs and knitting and are going to Midwinter 2009”), explore the beginnings of a mentoring network, and more.

But it’s really phase two where we start implementing ways for you to find and connect with other members around professional interests, issues, advocacy, your job, the work of the Association, meeting up with friends & colleagues when you attend ALA conferences, and the like. Although we’ve referred to this as “ALA’s social network,” it’s probably more accurate to think of it as ALA’s professional network, an online version of what has traditionally taken place in the physical world. This isn’t going to be “ALA MySpace,” although there will be hooks into and out of some social sites such as (bookmarks), Facebook (connections), Flickr (pictures), and Twitter (micro-conversations).

I’ll be writing a lot more about this here in the coming months, but for now, I want to note that when you read these documents and see the new site, it will be branded “ALAconnect,” not “Online Communities,” because this is the foundation for the social network (phase two) and a possible CE clearinghouse (potentially phase three). The name “ALAconnect” will be the umbrella for this more interactive side of our website, so we’re implementing the branding now to avoid confusion later.

If you have questions about these documents (or anything else about this project), please leave them as comments here so that everyone can see the answers.

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07 Feb 08 New Online Communities RFP

Today we’re officially releasing the RFP to migrate our current Online Communities service to Drupal. You can grab a PDF of it here. Proposals are due by February 18 because we have a short turn-around time on this project and we need to get moving on it.

There’s information in the RFP for contacting us if you have further questions. ALA staff and members who would like to help us publicize this RFP should feel free to link to this post.

More background on the project:

27 Feb 07 Communities Updates – February 2007

An Online Communities Enhancements wiki has been established to seek ideas for improving the application. It is located at
Please add your comments!

01 Dec 06 Communities Updates – November 2006

The online communities application has been stable since last month’s attacks. We are looking at enhancements to the communities applications which will be implemented as resources permit.