Author Archives: Terry Simpkins

Directors Notes Aug. 15, 2013

Present:  Terry Simpkins, Rebekah Irwin, Mike Roy, Jim Stuart, Mary Backus, Carol Peddie (via Skype) and Doreen Bernier.  Joe Antonioli (guest).

Joe Antonioli presented the results of the SANSSpace pilot survey recently completed by LS faculty and students.  Although the sample size was small, both faculty and students provided overall positive feedback about the service.  We also reviewed the options for vendor technical support, and the support impact that SANSSpace would have on LIS staff.

The vendor, Chester Technical Services (CTS) (contracted by SANSSpace), would provide 24-hour, business-day support for this product.  This means that support issues reported on Friday would not be acknowledged before the following Monday.  A contract with CTS would provide training for faculty 3 times per year (at the beginning of the Fall, Spring, and Language School terms).  Providing additional training for trainers might also be beneficial.

After some discussion, the directors agreed to move forward with implementation and potentially commit to a 1-year contract, contingent upon successful negotiation with the vendor for training and support.  Assuming these negotiations are successful, we will send an email to faculty announcing the new service, while at the same time clearly explaining the level of support that LIS, in collaboration with the vendor, can provide.

We discussed LIS protocols for scheduling and announcing system down times.  We agreed that such announcements should be sent out via all-LIS staff email no later than noon on the Friday before the scheduled downtime, and at the same time posted to the LIS blog. All system down times should be planned within the maintenance window whenever possible, and should also be coordinated with the CSNS work group.  Jim, Chris Norris, and David Ludwig will determine if change management documents are required and whom they should be shared with appropriate groups.  Finally, we agreed that all downtime announcements should be sent out and coordinated by Jim, and Chris acting as Jim’s backup when necessary.

Next the group reviewed and discussed communications relating to additional LIS organization changes.  We have already been in contact with those staff who are directly affected by the reorganization; these latest messages are to announce the changes more widely.

Thanks for reading,
Terry & Doreen

Managers meeting notes, August 8, 2013

Present: Carrie, Joe A, Mike, Joseph, Ian B, Terry (notes), Pij, Joe D, Peggy, Mary, Dan, Jim

Mike will soon send out requests for volunteers to form two groups:

  • one to investigate teams;
  • another to look at possible LIS benchmark/performance indicators.

We focused the rest of the meeting on discussing preparations for the upcoming start of the Fall semester, along with other activities that are occupying folks during the waning days of summer.


  • Dealing with an outbreak of mold at Davison Library
  • Now working part-time in Special Collections
  • With staff, undertaking a review of periodicals at Armstrong


  • MISO prep – request to share questions that are required so they are not needlessly debated.  Mike mentioned that the results of the MISO survey would likely be considered one of our key performance indicators;
  • Work with the communications task force is continuing;
  • liaisons and systems folks are working diligently on migrating our SubsPlus subject guides to a new platform called LibGuides;
  • we are now providing access to Middlebury journals/databases for a select group of MIIS center directors and department heads

Ian Burke:

  • Shifting College point-of-sale systems to a new area of the network;
  • Planning for “cyber awareness month” in October.


  • planning for a data center is beginning;
  • Mike, Jim, Chris, Mike, and Mary participated in a conference call with a few other area schools to discuss a joint IT security assessment;
  • Bill Burger in Communications has received funding for TV studio “in a box”; implemented first at MIIS and then, eventually, at Midd.  Location at Midd still TBD;
  • Jim Ralph is here and involved with CTLR.  Beginning conversations about the possibility of applying for grants in the area of digital humanities projects;
  • Jim and Mike seeking approval, funding, etc. for a biweekly luncheon series to highlight innovations around technology and pedagogy;
  • discussing LIS Info Lit efforts and how that might align with CTLR’s new role;
  • Met with COO of Middlebury Interactive Languages (MIL); may try to have semi-regular conversations between their tech staff and ours for professional development purposes.


  • Education & Training Team is in the process of collecting feedback on the new LIS help site.  Will probably roll out after Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
  • Preparing wiki documentation for cut-over to MiddCloud.

Joe Durante

  • Working on hiring/returning Helpdesk students;
  • Returning student assistants will need training to use WebHelpDesk;
  • SLAs up and running; alerts are now sent whenever something is unduly delayed.


  • Print management group is talking with SymQuest about changing our primary printer model from Canon to Kyocera.  Kyocera fully supports PaperCut and we’ve also been experiencing problems with the Canon Mac drivers;
  • Looking at alternate billing methods


  • Working with MIIS to implement Web Help Desk, using a shared database.  Tickets will be divided by location;
  • Planning public announcements of the self-service feature of WHD (September) and of the SLAs (October;
  • Something involving first-year registration (possibly registration system training, or possibly just people having trouble registering – conflicting reports…) will be happening in the Libraryon the afternoon of Sept. 4.


  • Asset inventory piece of WHD still not working with KeyServer; may need to re-import computer data into the new database system;
  • circulation/reserves staff are preparing to wrap up BL School of English and are also preparing for beginning of BL Writers Conference;
  • 18,000 more people visited Davis in July 2013 than in 2012;
  • planning for more equitable carrel distribution to those who have greatest need for them.


  • Final prep for Middfiles cutover, scheduled for Aug 18, will take 6 hours to cut-over;
  • CSNS is engaged in a complete network overhaul of MIIS campus; the core is being built here at Middlebury, and the first components installed at MIIS probably by mid-September;
  • Network improvements happening at Washington DC office of MIIS’ Center for Non-Proliferation Studies (CNS). Also preparing for a new Internet connection;
  • Undertaking a wireless assessment to determine coverage gaps; have identified some spaces, such as Gifford, where we need to upgrade;
  • Upgrading Computer Science lab, integrating authentication into our main system.  Moving storage for CS students and faculty to MiddFiles from a separate system;
  • Next windows upgrade to 8.1 will only support one specific VPN protocol; may impact some home users.


  • Incoming students will be getting a USB guide of helpful information rather than a packet of printed materials;
  • Marketing efforts:
    • LIS book marks for new students;
    • Post-cards to market/advertise the most useful/helpful of our services;
  • Doing a targeted survey for some first-year seminars; planning for pre- and post-instruction tests to assess how well we are teaching info lit skills.  Joe Antonioli is helping with KeySurvey for this.

Joe Antonioli

  • Digital Media Tutors had a total of 66 project proposals.  40 are complete; 5 more starting soon due to returning faculty schedules; 14-15 projects to complete before academic year;
  • CourseHub for MIIS;
  • Changes to CurrTech site, making sure it is up-to-date and the information is correct.  This will not be a full overhaul this year, however;
  • Undertaking a side-by-side comparison of Midd and UNC Chinese placement exams for LS and UG department;
  • We need to make a decision on our SANSSpace by the start of the academic year;
  • Honor Code tutorial – new site, integration with CourseHub;
  • LS review every year, so will want to meet with folks involved in that support.

Thanks for reading,

Managers’ Meeting Notes, July 11, 2013

Present: Joe Antonioli, Mike Roy, Carrie Macfarlane, Lisa Terrier, Pij Slater, Joe Durante, Jim Stuart, Rebekah Irwin, Peggy Fischel, Mary Backus, Carol Peddie, Rachel Manning, Terry Simpkins, Joseph Watson, Petar Mitrevski and Doreen Bernier


  • Stacy Reardon has started as Librarian
  • Susan Simmons has started as Business Systems Analyst
  • David Wright has started as Media Services Specialist
  • Brett Wells has started as Computing Specialist II
  • We still have an open positions for Information Security Analyst, an ILL Assistant, and Curator of Special Collections & Archives

Web Help Desk – general discussion of best practices

  • Petar mentioned that Media Services has successfully downsized from 4 tracking systems to 1 with the installation of Web Help Desk
  • WHD is slow at times, especially in the afternoon.  Working to resolve this with the vendor and may need to send our database to them for testing/troubleshooting.  Jim Stuart is also looking into possible causes, but thus far the issue doesn’t seem to be on our network end.
  • Mary Backus indicated that SLA alerts had not been turned on, but will be sent out today.  They had been waiting for a way to exclude events scheduling from the alert systems, since these tickets are often entered far in advance of the event date
  • Anecdotal evidence that WHD is fostering communication between workgroups that hadn’t had much direct contact in the past
  • Templates are being set up in Web Help Desk that can assist customers in viewing our priorities.

Review of LIS Directors Goals:
We held a brief discussion/overview of the LIS Directors goals for FY14.  These goals are:

  • policy review
    • Outcome: Clarity within LIS and cross the College about what policies govern LIS activities and how they are determined
    • Comment: although internal and external policies were reviewed last year, a process for input and feedback should be implemented and inventory should be revisited.
  • internal communications improvements
    • Outcomes: A better informed staff, less confusion about where to go for meeting notes and agendas, decisions made with more input from across the organization
    • Comment: The Internal Communications Task Force will be presenting their recommendations at next week’s all-staff meeting.  Terry Simpkins gave a brief reminder of the top issues raised in last year’s short survey.
  • prioritization
    • Outcome: Clarity within LIS and across the College about how work is requested from LIS, and how LIS priorities are established and communicated.  This goal is based on feedback from some of our constituents across campus.
    • Comment: Should there be representation here from across LIS?
  • re-assess teams
    • Outcome: More effective teams that can achieve important goals and allow for effective work across work groups and areas.
    • Comment: can we implement 360 reviews for our annual performance evaluations, as we do with teams?
  • support for professional development
    • Outcome: A staff that is prepared to support not only existing systems, services, and resources, but also prepared for the fast-moving future.
    • Comment: We are looking at ways to allow a certain number of hours per month for staff to pursue training and professional development opportunities.  A survey will soon be sent out regarding this topic.

In addition to these goals, Mike has four other things that he would like to see LIS pursue:

  • effective meetings: How well run are our current meetings?  What could be done to improve them?
  • project management: Interested in some sort of in-depth, multi-session course on project management to help us develop a common approach and vocabulary for this type of work.  Should there be a project management office? Should we develop some sort of tool kit to assist project managers?
  • 360 reviews for managers: we discussed this last year. Mike would like to see all managers in LIS go through some version of a 360 review on a regular basis.
  • balanced scorecard pilot:  a first pass at establishing quantitative and qualitative metrics for understanding how each workgroup, team, and area is performing.

Next Month’s agenda

  • Semester Startup – around-the-table discussion
  • Teams Assessment

Thanks for readin’!
Terry & Doreen

Area Directors notes, July 25, 2013

Present:  Joe Antonioli, Mike Roy, Jim Stuart, Carol Peddie, Mary Backus, Terry Simpkins, Rebekah Irwin and Doreen Bernier

Joe Antonioli joined the meeting to give an update on SANSSpace/Online Language Lab.  SANSSpace is a pilot project being currently being used and evaluated by Language School faculty and students.  Joe has been working with Amy Foote on drafting survey questions to help evaluate SANSSpace in order to determine if we want to move the service into production.  If we do, we will need to determine who will be impacted by support requests, and what the expectations are for support from the Helpdesk.  The program could ultimately be adopted by the undergraduate language programs, MIIS, and Schools Abroad.  Once Joe and the CurrTech Team understands the Language Schools’ perspective, they will make a recommendation to the directors.

The ADs then had a brief discussion about the LIS organizational structure and space needs. Sponsorship of the Space Team will shift to Rebekah Irwin.

In a never-ending quest for determining the perfect balance of frequency and length, the directors reviewed the directors’ meeting structure.  We agreed to shorten the meeting length to 1½ hours unless the agenda requires more time.  We would like to set agendas for Thursday meetings by Monday at noon.  Urgent issues that cannot wait until the following week can be added late if necessary.

We briefly discussed preparation of the LIS Annual Report.  Mike will prepare a 1 page summary, linked to the quarterly reports.  We also talked some about the need for a repository of commonly needed statistics.

We began a general discussion about a long-term strategy for storage options, including making more systematic use of cloud options:

  • we need to establish a plan to systematically evaluate emerging options for our key technology platforms and services;
  • we should be considering how the College community already uses public tools, and take that into consideration in our thinking;
  • discussed “best-of-breed” IT service strategies vs. a strategy that emphasizes or prefers cloud hosting vs. locally hosting, etc., in general;
  • we need to be concerned about security and reputation;
  • it should be secure, sustainable, affordable, simple, convenient and user-friendly;
  • conversation rapidly expands into other areas such as BYOD (“bring your own device”)
  • to be continued…

We will invite the CurrTech Team to meet with us to review goals, projects, and priorities, including the idea of looking at possible streaming video solutions.  There are implications beyond curricular technology with this, but it seems like a good place to start.

Thanks for reading,
Terry & Doreen

Area Directors notes, July 18, 2013

Present:  Jim Stuart, Mary Backus, Mike Roy, Terry Simpkins, David Ludwig, Carol Peddie, Rebekah Irwin and Doreen Bernier.
Guests: members of the Space Team (Joseph Watson, Todd Sturtevant and Lisa Terrier)

We started with a review of LIS Goals, identifying top level department goals to be submitted to the Office Planning and Assessment. This is part of an effort to communicate out as widely as possible goals that may have an impact beyond LIS (note: CSNS and Information Security goals will not be opened to the public).

Members of the Space Team joined us next to discuss the principles behind moving specific work groups around, especially those that may have particular needs vis-a-vis collocation of staff, private vs. shared space, etc.  The team will review spaces again and report back to the ADs by mid-August and will be looking at public spaces within Davis for the future.

We discussed issues regarding the communication plan to announce SLAs and the self-service module of WebHelpdesk to the College community.  Currently all alerts are on, but we would like to have more data before announcing the SLAs to the community.  We agreed that we should move forward with an announcement about the self-service module as soon as possible, and include information about the priority level definitions to the FAQs.  Once we have more data regarding response times for the SLAs, we can announce the details of those to the community separately.\ Mary also suggested that we create an advisory committee to follow WebHelpdesk once the campus community begins using it.  We will be looking for volunteers for this committee, and will discuss this topic more at the next manager’s meeting in August.

At the all-staff meeting on Wednesday, staff voted to start a separate private blog for LIS staff.  The ADs would like to see this begin in September.  The Communications Taskforce will need to set this in motion.  Terry volunteered to be editor/noodge-in-chief of this new blog temporarily as we adjust to it and attempt to make sure the appropriate agendas and minutes are posted.

Thanks for reading
Terry & Doreen

Friday links – July 26, 2013

“Flipped” classes – A clear-eyed look at “flipped” teaching, from CHE.  The author argues flipped classes require more classroom support than a traditional lecture course, and more contact with and more engagement from students, but it can also mean more learning.

Ebbeler, Jennifer. “‘Introduction to Ancient Rome,’ the Flipped Version.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 22 July 2013. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Web. 22 July 2013. (

Google Play adding Textbook Rentals this August

Web Content

2013 Noel Levitz e-Expectations Report: 98% of prospective students report that they will open an email from a school they are interested in attending. 20% have downloaded that school’s mobile app.

How Gmail’s New Inbox is Affecting Open Rates: Our list emails won’t be able to avoid getting stuffed in the new Promotions tab, but it only appears to be decreasing open rates from 13% to 12% so far.

Portal Websites: The Great Content Divide: “Segmenting content by audience type introduces a slew of content problems most organizations are not prepared for. While it’s important to prioritize and plan for your target audiences, it’s a risky business limiting content and user options. Doing so limits your audiences’ ability to learn and discover and your content’s potential to inform and delight.”

Web Development

Optimizing the Critical Rendering Path: Why we need to start thinking about CSS declarations in the header instead of in separate files and asynchronous JavaScript file includes for faster mobile rendering.

Data URIs are 6x Slower than Source Linking: Including the image data on a page as a base64 encoded string is slower than using an image tag because even if it saves HTTP requests, the browser has to decode the image on every page load.

CSS3 And Flexbox: Flexbox allows for better control over positioning and sizing of page elements. Right now there aren’t good ways to vertically center content or make two boxes the same height on the page. Flexbox solves that, but isn’t well supported in the browser yet.

The web is getting a vibration API

AD51 meeting notes, July 11, 2013

Present: Mike Roy, Carol Peddie, Terry Simpkins, Rebekah Irwin, Jim Stuart and Doreen Bernier

We had a general discussion about support for the new summer School of Environment.  Once the program is up and running, we will want to have a liaison assigned to it, like we do with the Language Schools and Bread Loaf programs.  Mike will talk with David Ludwig about possible background technology needs may be needed for program startup.

A few guests from St. Lawrence University will be coming to Middlebury on July 16. They are in the process of merging their library and IT organizations and would like to meet with us to hear about our experience.  Mike will contact them to see who specifically will be coming.

Jim proposed Sunday morning, Aug. 18 for the Middfiles cutover.  CSNS will request a 6 hour maintenance window to complete final sync.

Mike is working with other IT colleagues to discuss a project called Persuasive, a collaborative security assessment of ca. 6 college campuses.  A kick-off meeting at Williams College is being scheduled for early August, most likely on Aug. 6 or 8.

Upcoming Meeting Agendas

All Staff (July 17)

  • Communications Taskforce recommendations

  • Goals

  • Professional Development

Optional All Staff (July 18) – if there is interest

  • Follow-up to Web Helpdesk

Future Optional All Staff meetings – if interest

  • Goals – deep dive

  • Budget     review

September All Staff meeting

  • Review/intro to Gartner Research

Directors’ meeting

  • Office space with Space Team

  • Curricular Technology Team – review of membership/sponsorship

Thanks for reading!

Terry & Doreen