17 Feb 10 ITTS News Meeting – February 16, 2010

1. Opportunities Exchange (Jenny)

Jenny did a demo of the new Opportunities Exchange
beta testing is finishing up this week, and the new service will go live on Monday (2/22)
if anyone wants to join the beta test or start adding new opportunities, contact Jenny
any staff or ALA member will be able to add an opportunity
members will be able to fill out an interests profile and check a box to receive email updates whenever a new opportunity is submitted that matches their interests
we’re also seeking input on category names and the need for additional opportunity types

currently, these are the types available:

  • Assistantships
  • Awards
  • Equipment
  • Fellowships
  • Freelance design
  • Freelance web work
  • Giveaways
  • Grants
  • Internships
  • Job Exchanges
  • Presenting/speaking
  • Publishing
  • Residencies
  • Research/Surveys
  • Scholarships
  • Travel Grants

2. Postini implementation (Louise)

ITTS will be turning on Postini for spam filtering within the next week

Postini will sort spam for you based on whether it thinks the message is a virus and then five types of spam
We’ll have to check it periodically and delete messages or move valid ones to your inbox

3. Mentioned the new ITTS News blog (the one you’re reading!)

we’ve moved the ITTS blog from to
if you were subscribed via email to the old blog, you should be subscribed to the new one
if you’re not subscribed, please consider doing so to stay current, as we plan to post news and updates more often

4. CMS RFP update (Louise)

32 proposals have come in so far
the deadline was February 15, but we’ve extended it through February 19

the task force will be evaluating the proposals (WAC members and some staff members)
the replacement cost for a new CMS is being built into the 2011 budget
target completion date is May 1, 2011

we’re still not sure how long and clean the migration will be because we don’t know what we’re migrating to

a discussion ensued about what we archive, what we should archive, and why
how do we make archived materials available without clogging up/bogging down the website?

5. The next ITTS News meeting will be on March 23, 2010, at 2pm.

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16 Dec 09 Six-month Review of ALA Connect

In the Requirements Document written for ALA Connect in May 2008, eleven measures were listed for evaluating the success of ALA Connect at the six-month mark. This report, first presented to the ALA Board on October 24, 2009, represents our evaluation of the project to date, according to those measures.

Although we installed Google Analytics in June, the types of statistics it provides don’t tell us very much. It’s good to know the numbers of pageviews and visitors are continuously increasing, but those kinds of generic numbers don’t tell us how folks are actually using the site. In order to get the kinds of statistics we needed, especially for the six-month review, we built our own custom Drupal module for statistical reporting. The bulk of the numbers in this review come from that module, which is available in real-time for any ALA staff member to view….

View the full report (PDF, 9MB)

General conclusion: Connect has been successful and should continue to see cyclical growth as we move further into phase two. We met six of the eleven goals, with three of the remaining measures no longer being applicable and one waiting on an accessibility review from ASCLA. There’s really only one goal we didn’t meet (#4, content activity), but even that one could be considered a success.

We’ll do a follow-up report like this one at the one-year mark in April 2010, and of course we’ll post it here on the blog. Questions? Comments?

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15 Dec 09 What Opportunities Do You Want to Know about?

Opportunities ExchangeI’ve mentioned the forthcoming “Opportunities Exchange” for ALA Connect before, but we’re getting close to a soft launch rollout for testing. Here’s a general outline of how it works.

It’s an integrated service where any ALA member can add any opportunity available to the profession (except for jobs, because we already have JobList for those). When you enter the opportunity, you’ll be able to attach subjects to it, along with all of the standard details (who, what, where, when, etc.).

The database of open opportunities will be available for the whole world to see, including folks who aren’t even logged in to the site. Of course, if you want to comment on an opportunity, leave a question, or contact the submitter, you’ll have to log in, but just viewing will be free to everyone. Logging in will also give you the ability to save searches.

Here’s where it gets fun, though. ALA members will be able to check off a list of “interests” in their profiles, and whenever a new opportunity that matches one of those interests is submitted to the Exchange, Connect will send those members an email notice about it. That way, you don’t have to keep checking back for new opportunities.

So far, these are the types of opportunities we’re listing in the OppEx:

  • Assistantships
  • Awards
  • Fellowships
  • Grants
  • Internships
  • Job Exchanges
  • Publishing
  • Residencies
  • Scholarships
  • Speaking/presenting
  • Travel Grants
  • Volunteering

I’m sure there’s more that we’re missing, though. Other than jobs, what other kinds of opportunities should we include? What other types of opportunities within the profession can we aggregate for you?

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01 Dec 09 Connecting Statistics

We took a little detour from working on the Opportunities Exchange for ALA Connect (more on that soon) to implement a statistical reporting module in order to better track activity on the site. Sure, we’d already installed Google Analytics, but the number of hits and visitors doesn’t tell us how the site is being used and by whom.

Now, however, we have a whole range of new numbers to play with, including:

  • Total number of ALA members who have logged in
  • Total number of non-ALA members who have created accounts on the site and logged in
  • Amount of activity happening on the site
  • What types of activity are happening on the site
  • How many members have joined MentorConnect
  • How many members of each division have accessed the site
  • Which groups are most active on the site

Because the reports run in real-time and can take up server resources to generate, only ALA staff can view them. However, we’ll post regular reports here (does quarterly sound good?) and post screenshots to Flickr. I’m in the process of writing up the six-month evaluation of Connect, which I’ll also post here soon.

In summary, I’m happy to say that Connect is meeting its goals overall, and that growth continues to increase in most categories, although there’s definitely a cyclical pattern to it. This isn’t surprising given the fact that phase one of the project was focused more on committees and working groups, but we hope the new reporting module will help us track changes in that pattern as we move into phase two additions aimed at a wider group of members.

Here are a few screenshots from the new reporting module, but you can view the full set on the ALA Staff Flickr account.

Summary of types of participants in ALA Connect
Summary of types of participants in ALA Connect

Activity in ALA Connect by type and month
Activity in ALA Connect by type and month

Active users in ALA Connect by division
Active users in ALA Connect by division

Active groups in ALA Connect (previous month - November 2009)
Active groups in ALA Connect (previous month – November 2009)

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21 Jul 09 New Committee Rosters in ALA Connect

ALA Connect got a warm reception during the ALA Annual Conference earlier this month, and we’re seeing increased usage as a result of the marketing push. The dust had finally settled a little from Annual, so this past weekend we flipped the rosters in iMIS (our member database), which means the rosters in Connect got flipped, too.

What does that mean? It means that anyone whose appointment to a committee ended on June 30, 2009, is no longer part of the roster for that committee in Connect. So if you log in and find that you suddenly don’t have access to a specific group anymore, it’s likely because your appointment has ended and new people have been added to the roster.

Conversely, if you log in and see a new committee showing up in “My ALA Groups” or on your profile, it’s probably because your appointment to that group started on July 1, 2009.

We performed some magic behind-the-scenes to make the switch happen after Annual in order to give working groups the ability to access their space in Connect during the conference, but now it’s time for the new roster to work in that space.

If you believe that an affiliation is missing from your profile in Connect or that you’re on a group you shouldn’t be on, please leave a comment here, email me at jlevine [at], or use the contact us form on the Connect site. Even better, if you *know* you should be listed on a specific committee, contact that committee’s staff liaison (or “admin” in Connect), because that’s the person who can add you in the member database so that Connect reflects your participation.

ALA staff members who receive questions about committee appointments from members should first check iMIS to make sure the appointment dates are correct there. If you’re still experiencing problems with rosters in Connect, feel free to call or email me. In fact, it’s a good idea to check your rosters in general to make sure that they’re accurate, as we only flipped dates for appointments that ended on June 30 or began on July 1.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask!

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10 Feb 09 ALA Connect Roadmap

The beta test for ALA Connect has ended, and we’re now working on the final issues list before soft launching the site in March. Overall, the comments we received were positive and encouraging; in fact, the comment we probably heard the most at Midwinter was, “Can’t you just launch this thing already?” So we’re working as hard as we can to do exactly that.

To help lay further groundwork for the official launch, we’re releasing an official ALA Connect Roadmap (114 KB, PDF) to provide some context and outline the service’s potential future. There are five sections to it:

  1. Introduction
  2. Unique Value to Members
  3. Barriers to Adoption
  4. Initial Metrics for Success of Phase One
  5. Roadmap for Future Development

Section 5 includes descriptions of potential modules for phases 2 and 3. We’ll provide more details for phase 2 as we move into it this summer. The notion of “phases” is somewhat inaccurate, as features will be released on a continuous basis as they become available, but it provides a framework of building blocks.


12 Dec 08 Where Is ALA Connect?

If you’ve been following along with our work on ALA Connect, you know that we had hoped to be beta testing by now, getting ready to do a soft launch heading into Midwinter. So why haven’t we announced that here?

Well, we ran into a speed bump last month that we’re just now clearing. As previously noted, all of our membership and committee data is in a software program called “iMIS,” and probably the biggest challenge we’ve faced with this project is connecting our complex membership structure to Drupal. Back in September, we excitedly noted our first success in this area (well, Urban Insight’s success, as they wrote the i2d engine that powers this).

So we were well on our way forward and when the connecting module was finished, we anxiously initiated the big import of committee data from iMIS. Which is when I learned that ALA uses the iMIS committee module for a lot more than just “committees.” For example, as our central repository of data, we use iMIS to track libraries participating in the Public Programs Office’s traveling exhibits, our list of past ALA presidents, and more. Once we saw what came over, we also realized that we didn’t really need a community for the 1999 Annual Conference.

It makes sense to keep all of this data in one place, but it quickly became clear that we needed to do some data cleanup in iMIS and find a way to flag those “committees” that aren’t really “committees,” as well as past events. We asked all of ALA’s divisions and units to pitch in and help identify these things, which they did in an amazingly fast turnaround time of one week (thanks, ALA staff!). We’ve done the cleanup in iMIS, added a flag, re-written the i2d engine, and now we’re re-importing the data, which looks a lot better in Connect. Instead of 1900+ “committees,” divisions, sections, round tables, and events, we’re down to 1,354 of them, with the added benefit of more accurate data in iMIS for other purposes, so it was worth the hiccup.

We’re back on track now, planning to start alpha testing next week. We’ve had to push beta testing into mid-January, hopefully with a soft launch in February. If all scales well, look for an official launch in March.

I know others at several associations are watching what we’re doing closely since we’re the first to be at this stage, so let me just note that if you’re one of those folks, you could do far worse than to look at your iMIS data now and check for any cleanup that needs to be done ahead of time so that you don’t run into this type of problem during your implementation.

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17 Sep 08 Updated Timeline for ALA Connect

Now that we seem to have cleared the iMIS hurdle, we’ve adjusted our timeframe for next steps. Urban Insight is still working on the iMIS module so that we can grab user information (not just log you in), and then we need to import data such as committees, units, rosters, etc. into the system. Going through all 1500+ active committees was…interesting, but that’s a story for another blog post.

So there’s still a lot to do, and we’re still wrestling a bit with Drupal to make it more intuitive. Given our progress so far, we project that we’ll start alpha testing with the Website Advisory Committee the first week in October. We had several groups volunteer to beta test the site (seven, to be exact), so we hope to begin involving them before the end of October. If all goes well, we’re on track for a November soft launch.

Keep in mind that phase one is the collaborative, virtual workspace for ALA committees and an online sharing space for any communities you want to create. After we get the kinks worked out, we’ll start on phase two, which will include the professional networking pieces. That’s when things get really interesting in terms of helping you make connections with the other 65,000 members of ALA.

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28 Jul 08 Questions about ALA Connect

I was recently asked two questions about ALA’s upcoming Online Communities v2 service, now known as “ALA Connect.” I thought I’d answer them here in case others are wondering the same things.

Q1. Will the new version be for ALA members only, or will it also have public-access communities?
A. ALA Connect will not be members-only, although there will be sections that will be set up that way. There will be a basic, “registered users” login for non-members who want to comment on blog posts, participate in discussion forums, and contribute to public-access communities (e.g., a community for library advocacy). However, all of the networking, member search, online résumé, and other pieces that connect you specifically with other members will be available for members only. The different types of permissions are outlined in the Requirements Document available at (section 6, page 9). It will be up to a community’s administrators to decide how they want to configure access for their community.

Q2. Will Google search ALA Connect communities and show results?
A. Google the web search engine will be able to index publicly-accessible pages in ALA Connect (AC), but those communities that have set permissions to member-only will not be searchable outside of the AC search engine. ALA does run its own version of Google to search our website, but it won’t be able to search members-only areas of ALA Connect because of those permissions, either. ALA units probably want to take this information into account when deciding how to configure their communities.

We’re moving forward (full speed ahead), but we’re happy to take a break to help everyone understand where we’re heading, so please use the Contact Us form or leave a comment if you have further questions.

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