What’s an Approval Profile, and Why Does the Library Want to Change Ours?

A brown-bag lunch will be held on May 3 at 12:30 pm, in the Crest Room of the McCullough Student Center, to explore the subject of the library’s approval profile. Douglas Black, the library’s Head of Collections Management, will be presenting, with some sweets and coffee to augment your own lunch. He’ll give some history of the approval program in library acquisitions over the years and lead discussion on its role in the academic library collection of the 21st century.

For context, the library selects, acquires, and provides access to materials in many different ways:

  • upon request by students, faculty, and staff
  • automatic purchase of e-books and streaming media based on usage
  • subscriptions
  • package deals on journal subscriptions and purchased journal archives (“backfiles”)
  • one-time purchases of electronic databases, which often require annual maintenance fees
  • gifts/donations
  • and through automatic purchase via an “approval profile.”

Under the approval model, the library utilizes a library vendor (in our case, YBP Library Services) to purchase automatically books that meet certain criteria (e.g., subject, hardbound only, no workbooks, scholarly publishers only, within a certain price range, etc.).  Middlebury typically purchases about 3,000 volumes/year this way, at an average annual cost of $97,000 in the last few years. We recently conducted a thorough analysis of the program’s effectiveness, finding that print books purchased through the approval profile are used much less than those specifically requested. The library believes some of that money could be spent more effectively and would like to gather input from members of the campus community on reshaping the profile.

Please feel welcome to contact your liaison or Douglas Black (dblack@middlebury.edu or x3635) with any questions (whether or not you can attend the meeting), or comment here in the blog.

Weekly Web Updates – April 18, 2016

WordPress 4.5

The key features of this release include:

  • A less distracting inline link interface
  • Formatting shortcuts for horizontal lines and <code> tags
  • Live responsive previews when customizing themes
  • Custom logo support
  • Smart image resizing; images now load up to 50% faster

Updates

Fixes and Tweaks

  • An excess memory usage problem caused by excessive fetching of revisions within Jetpack’s custom CSS module has been resolved.
  • PIDM and 8-digit ID’s have been exposed via CAS and CAS_Directory for use in the Course Hub.
  • Guests can now be granted the ability to log into some Drupal sites [Course Hub] without requiring that all guests have their accounts auto-created.
  • The CAS user sync now works when users’ languages are greater than five characters.

ACTT Extended Team Meeting Agendas for April 19th and 26th, 2016

The new ACT Team process includes Extended Team meetings. These closed meetings allow the Team to work with expert staff and focus on evaluating solutions that inform recommendations.

Agenda

The next two meetings will be discussions with vendors that can help meet the needs for the Video Streaming Service project.

  • Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 – Panopto
  • Tuesday, April 26th, 2016 – Ensemble

Notes for In-Progress Projects April 12, 2016

The new ACT Team process includes in-progress project presentations. These presentations are meant to inform the community about how things are going, what has been done and what still needs to be done, what is going well and what are the challenges.

Agenda

In this meeting we will have two presentations:

In-progress project presentations are open meetings, anyone may attend.

RStudio

Albert Kim and David Guertin

  • http://rstudio.middlebury.edu
  • David creates accounts for faculty and students.
  • In the desktop version, each student needs to install multiple packages; with RStudio Server, a faculty or an admin installs all packages in one location and students don’t need to.
  • R Markdown: combines text, R code, graphics are embedded in one document. Standardized and easier to grade.
  • Some upper-level courses require students to download the desktop version of RStudio, it is important for them to understand this environment. The server version is most useful for entry-level courses and limited use within a course as it reduces the time needed to set up the software.
  • VPN may be necessary for MIIS to access RStudio, this should not be the case. David will work with Chris to see why this may be happening.
  • To go live, we would need to set up with Active Directory. Do we want people to add RStudio via the Course Hub using a self-service model, or do we them to contact AT? David and Joe will communicate about this.
  • Shiny Server Pro: create interactive apps and graphics without needing any tech knowledge. Graphics are interactive, changing the variables changes the graphic display in real time.
  • You can host apps on free shinyapps.io or you can install Shiny Server Pro and serve on your own servers. Free for academic institutions with proof of syllabus. The Middlebury-hosted service is much more responsive.
  • We would like to share these services with other faculty. Albert and Bill will communicate and set up a demonstration, possibly through CTLR programming.

 

Academic Cyberinfrastructure Inventory

 

  • The Project Team is learning a lot about our environment through working on this project.
  • Q: Why does the inventory include services like Facebook, Twitter, Scrivener, etc.?
    • We know these services are being used for academic work.
    • For comparison with similar services.
    • To track the continuum of moving from service to service over time.
  • A viewable/usable version of the inventory should include a filter for Middlebury-supported services.
  • Once the Project Team has completed the categorization phase, the project will be shepherded by the ACTT working with ITS to deploy the information in a web-accessible format. It will include search functions for faculty, staff and students, with some protected information behind authentication for staff that need to track dependencies, for instance.

Romance of the Skies: Middlebury College Observatory

In 1936, Middlebury chemistry professor John Haller spent three months grinding a 12.5 inch parabolic mirror which he donated to the College under the condition that an observatory be built on the knoll north of Pearsons Hall.  A simple frame was soon constructed and the mirror was installed in a 10-foot-long Newtonian telescope under a dome built by Guatemalan amateur astronomer A. R. Ibarguen.

Astronomy had been studied at Middlebury since the early 1800s when the Old Chapel cupola served as an observatory. Upon its completion in 1937, the new observatory hosted weekly meetings of an extra-curricular course called Romance of the Skies which combined celestial observation with lectures on the history of astronomy and mythology of the constellations.

This recently rediscovered 16mm film reel in the College archives shows unique interior and exterior shots of the observatory as well as students using sextants near Wilson Hall.

Despite these promising beginnings, by 1970 the observatory was little-used and had fallen into disrepair. Settling of the foundation made rotating the leaky dome difficult and wasps had built nests in the barrel of the telescope. But interest in astronomy was growing at Middlebury after the recent successes of NASA’s Apollo program and the building was refurbished. Professor Heller’s original mirror and other optical instruments had thankfully been safely stored away from colonizing wasps and were reinstalled.

Although Middlebury’s octagonal dome on the hill was torn down to make way for the construction of McCardell Bicentennial Hall, a new observatory was built atop that same science center and has been serving stargazing students, faculty, and the public since 2001.

Be sure to visit the Middlebury College Observatory during one of their Open House Nights this spring to get your own glimpse into the Romance of the Skies.

 

Sources

Prof. John Haller Builds Telescope and Observatory.” The Middlebury Campus, January 27, 1937.

Star Gazing.” Middlebury College News Letter, March 1, 1937.

Would You Try to Reach Jupiter with a Rig Like This?Middlebury College Newsletter, Jul 1, 1971.

 

Weekly Web Updates – April 11, 2016

New Features

The WordPress video embed plugin now supports streaming videos from archive.org.

Updates

Fixes and Tweaks

  • The link to class rosters in the MIIS version of the Course Hub now matches the rest of the site styles, making it easier to see.
  • The ListManager subscription plugin for WordPress now allows lists with hyphens in their names.
  • The interest form on the School of the Environment site now has a field to indicate how you heard about the program.
  • Configured our Canvas pilot installation to prevent users from accidentally creating accounts that would never be able to log in.

Notes for Kick-Off on April 5, 2016

Agenda

We will be starting the new ACTT process with a Kick-Off meeting. This is an open, non-mandatory meeting for anyone who is interested in learning about the Academic Cyberinfrastructure Transformation Team to attend. We will introduce the new team members, structure, and thoughts on how the Team activities will be evaluated.

This is an open meeting, please share with anyone who is interested in learning about the ACTT

Notes

  • Mission: “Our mission is to evaluate and recommend technology services and innovations for teach, learning and research.”
  • Joe is teaching a course on “Design Thinking” this semester. Design Thinking includes an “Empathy Phase”

Q&A

    • Q (Melissa/CNS). How will information and requests trickle up?
      • “I have many day-to-day projects where I would love to have a license that exists on the Midd campus, but not the MIIS campus, or I would like to build a server with 1TB of storage to host a web site”
      • “My research center, CNS, is becoming such a large consumer of storage and bandwidth”
      • “On a request from Laurie Patton, I am researching a cloud services that could host our information”.
      • Answer – Joe – Anyone who wants to make a request for technology or technology services for academic use may approach the team. Happy to be an entry point for requests that may go to ITS or other groups.
      • Jim – we have to account for the resource requests during the budget request process.
    • Q (Melissa/CNS). We are a collection of researchers that become PI on large grants, we need to inform others of the implications on the projects that we are running…  So we can write it into
      • We are giving money to non-Middlebury developers to do things that could be done inside Middlebury
      • Jim: not necessarily opposed to using outside resources…
    • Q (Jim): May be Amy McGill can weigh in on the MIIS budget process and how funding decisions are made.
      • Amy McGill
        • MIIS Research Centers are funded with base productivity requirements
        • Campus community infrastructure is for day-to-day use
        • Research Centers seek their own funding for larger projects that need additional resources, they do typically provide for initial as well as on-going maintenance costs.
    • Q. ACTT contribution to the Strategic Planning Process?
      • t.b.d.
  • Q (Melissa/CNS).  Is it too early to start making suggestions for agenda items?
  • Q (Melissa/CNS).  I would love to explore the ability to share licenses across campuses.  We pay out of grant licenses for Tableau, for image processing software…  I drool over some of the licenses that the Geology department has.  This is not a simple request, but I would love to tackle it as a subject.
    • A (Zach/ITS-SR): Let’s talk; more productive if we can get an idea of the specific titles you’re interested in, so we can check what licensing models are available.
  • Q (Melissa/CNS).  I would love to talk about our data storage and access to bandwidth.  Because we use satellite images, large data sets, we are becoming something of a hog on the MIIS systems.   I would like to open a discussion on how we can meet CNS’s research technology needs including storage, bandwidth, and some security issues.
    • Joe: Has anyone done a “needs assessment for the department”?
      • We don’t have a department, we are a research center within a larger campus.
      • I have done a casual needs assessment. 13 TB of storage, external drives, google drives, drop boxes… Need access across three offices.
      • Jim:  ITS can help with a needs assessment and identify appropriate technology solutions, perhaps on campus or in the cloud, ideally consistent with other larger IT initiatives for Middlebury and work with CSN to identify, implement solutions.  We did this for the Middlebury DC office a couple of years ago that included the CSN operation there for example.
  • Q (Bob/MIIS).  Working toward equitable cyber infrastructure across VT and Monterey campuses seems like a an appropriate activity for the Team.

Actions

Joe to build form for collecting evaluation requests.

Stacks & Tracks the WRMC Radio Hour celebrates National Poetry Month with guest DJ, Karin Gottshall

Join us this Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at 12p-1p when Stacks & Tracks, the Special Collections & Archives radio show, celebrates National Poetry Month with Karin Gottshall, poet, Visiting Lecturer in English and American Literatures, and director of the New England Young Writers’ Conference at Bread Loaf. It will be music to your ears, promise.

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Wednesdays 12p-1p, live at 91.1FM or live-streaming through iTunes or online.