Posts by Terry Simpkins


Area Directors notes, July 18, 2013

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

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

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

“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

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

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

Area 51 notes, June 20, 2013

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Present:  Mike Roy, Jim Stuart, Terry Simpkins, Chris Norris, Mary Backus, Carol Peddie, David Ludwig, Rebekah Irwin (via Skype) and Doreen Bernier.
Guests: Joe Durante, Joe Antonioli and Pij Slater joined the meeting to discuss the Communications Task Force Proposal.

The budget office approved an increase to the LIS operating budget is $400K for FY14.  This was less than our requested increase of ca. $615K, so we will need to pare back.

  • We will likely make reductions in lines for consulting fees, library resources, and some of the proposed new projects;
  • We will also investigate canceling certain service contracts we no longer need, but this may not be possible;
  • We are maintaining (actually, increasing slightly) our professional development line as this was heavily used in FY13 and remains a priority for LIS;
  •  Carol has made some preliminary adjustments for the directors to review and adjust as needed.

The Communications Task Force joined the meeting to discuss their recommendations.  Last year the task force distributed a survey to staff to identify concerns about how we  communicate internally.  The survey identified three themes:

  • too many tools and methods of communications/too much information
  • complexity of the organization
  • a significant number of respondents did not think there was a “communications problem” within LIS (this is good!)

The TF will present its recommendations in more detail for staff commenting at an upcoming all-LIS meeting, but to quickly recap:

  • they recommend a separate staff-only blog for required posting of agendas & notes from selected meetings of widespread or general interest (e.g. directors’ notes, managers meetings, etc.);
  • the current LIS blog should be re-oriented specifically for the broader Middlebury community.  Items may be cross-posted between internal and public blogs, as appropriate;
  • staff will be consulted about the TF proposals in general.  We will need to what meetings of general interest would be useful to include in the private blog, decide whether or not other topics that may or may not be strictly work-related should be allowed, etc.  The idea is that the blog should be useful to staff!
  • we should re-evaluate and revisit how these recommendations are faring in 6 months;
  • it may be useful to appoint an informal moderator to review the staff-only blog, answer questions, etc., at least initially.

The directors agreed with the TF request to present and discuss the recommendations at July’s all-staff meeting.

Chris presented an overview of Information Security Auditing SOPs, which involves automated pattern-matching to detect sensitive information inappropriately posted to, for example, middfiles/org.  The automated tool is not used on personal home directories or personal workstations unless requested.  Ian Burke is creating a document with detailed guidelines and policies.  When complete, he and/or Chris will present to the directors for further discussion.

The directors briefly discussed how LIS should prepare and train for emergency situations.  The US Dept. of Homeland Security has some training materials available which are useful and important but not for the faint-of-heart.  This discussion will be continued.

Jim lead the discussion regarding the current Change Management Policy and asked if standards should be established for minor vs major changes.  He also suggested we form a cross-functional team or other type of “change management board” to assist sharing change information across work groups and creating sign-off procedures.  This team would only be involved in major changes (e.g., new middfiles). We also discussed change management in the context of new services, not just upgrades or changes to existing services.  It was noted that the current form accommodates existing systems but not new systems.

Mike asked the directors to discuss the usefulness of this idea with their managers and workgroups and report back for further discussion.  Terry suggested that any discussion about forming a new team should be included in a holistic re-evaluation of the current teams, which is part of the directors goals for the year and will be reviewed at their next retreat.

Agenda for June AD Retreat

  • restructuring
  • goals
  • cloud strategy plan
  • teams

The June 27th AD meeting has been canceled.

Agenda items (so far) for the next AD meeting
Information Security Auditing SOPs (if document is ready)

Thanks for reading,

Terry & Doreen

Area Director’s notes, June 6, 2013

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Present:  Mary Backus, Terry Simpkins, Rebekah Irwin, Chris Norris, Jim Stuart, David Ludwig,  Mike Roy and Doreen Bernier

Brief updates:

  • Proposed Joy Pile and Kellam Ayres, respectively, as writers for the Language Schools and Bread Loaf end-of-summer reports, pending confirmation with them.  Terry will confirm with Joy and Mary will confirm with Kellam.
  • Mike proposed that the ADs hold the 9:00-10:00 on Thursdays to create a space in the calendar to hold additional ad hoc directors’ meetings.  Doreen will send a calendar invite.
  • Mary asked Mike to speak with the Michael Geisler about closing the library on July 4th.
  • Jim asked if the Service Request Workgroup could assist with testing Eduroam.  Eduroam began in Europe, and allows visiting scholars, etc., to log in at participating institutions world-wide using only their local credentials.  Currently Eduroam is enabled in Voter and in Lib125 for testing purposes.  Jim will touch base with Lisa Terrier to request her workgroups assistance.  Chris requested more information about security issues.  Terry suggested that Joy Pile could help identify Language School faculty who might be interested in participating.

We discussed planning for the Middfiles production cutover. Jim and his group proposed cutover dates of June 15-16, which would mean limited access to Middfiles for approximately 4 hours (during which Middfiles would be read-only).  Because of the aggressive timeframe for this project, the directors requested that Jim distribute a draft change management document for their review.  There are concerns about how this will affect Language Schools and certain Banner processes that write to Middfiles automatically.  David and Jim will discuss further, and the directors also thought this should be discussed with John Stokes (Operations Director for LS).  This would also have an impact on lab setups.  There was strong sentiment that this timetable may be too aggressive and that it might be better to wait until after LS to  implement.  [6/17 update: The cutover is now likely to occur at the end of the summer after Language Schools].

The ADs discussed some of the more pressing office space recommendations prepared by the Space Team.  In the Space Team proposal, the new hire for Media Services would be temporarily located at the desk behind the circulation desk in front of Doreen’s office.  This is approved as a short term solution, but it would be preferred if all media staff worked in the same area.  Joseph will place necessary requests with Facilities Services to better prepare the area as a workspace.  Additionally:

  • approved a move of Joseph from his current location in the 135 suite to Special Collections;
  • approved new librarian hire going to DFL 207.

In addition to preferring to keep Media Services staff together if possible, we also expressed a desire to keep the Information Security staff in proximity to one another.  The Directors agreed to provide the Space Team with a list of desiderata regarding staff locations (these would be general requirements or wish lists, not specific room assignments; e.g., workgroup A needs quiet space to work, staff members B & C could double up in offices if necessary, etc.).  We will invite Joseph to meet with the ADs on June 20th for more discussion.

All area, workgroup and team goals are due at the beginning of July.  Mike has asked the directors to draft goals for themselves.  They are listed below with the AD who will act as lead.

Policy – (Chris Norris)
Internal Communication (Terry Simpkins)
Prioritization (Mike Roy)
Team Reassessment (Mike Roy)
Professional Development (Mike Roy)

Next week’s Directors’ meeting is canceled since several members will be traveling.  We have an retreat scheduled for June 21.  We will also try to reschedule that since several members will be out.

Agenda for June 20th

  • Goals preview
  • Budget
  • Cloud Strategy
  • Office Space
  • Communications TF recommendations

Thanks for reading,
Terry & Doreen

Area 51 notes – Apr. 25, 2013

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Present:  Terry Simpkins, Mary Backus, and Doreen Bernier
Guests: Bryan Carson, Joe Antonioli, Carrie Macfarlane, Joy Pile

The Language School task force joined us to discuss their proposal for providing curricular technology support for this summer’s Language School programs. The team asked the ADs to review and approve various proposals, including:
Update curricular platforms documentation

  • Minor changes to current documentation will be made as needed;
  • Documentation that needs more extensive updating will be marked to alert users;
  • CTT will periodically review and revise documentation tagged as being in need of updating;
  • Joe A. will look into options for “tagging” [4/27 update - he has identified a couple of appropriate tags to use for this];
  • An annual documentation review should be planned; this may be something the Curr Tech Team can assume ongoing responsibility for.

Curricular technology questions, unscheduled

  • Joy has met with Mills coordinators and walked them through Moodle and the CourseHub.  Mills coordinators can now “masquerade” as other users to help troubleshoot issues themselves;
  • Joe A. has met with Joe D., Linda and Marty to introduce them to the CourseHub and Moodle platforms.
  • Vacations may need to be staggered to ensure continuous coverage, especially during the July 4 holiday;
  • ADs will ask their managers to balance vacations schedules within their groups.

Curricular technology questions, scheduled.

  • The ADs would like to discuss this in a small group setting with support providers;
  • Support for this, like most of the other LS tasks, will need to be revisited next year.

Onboarding Workshops for faculty/staff.

  • We are hoping support can come from the Ed and Training Team.  Mary will communicate with them about this;
  • Bryan will provide a list of skills has has covered in the past when doing this training.

Courseware Workshops for faculty/staff.

  • We would like LS bilinguals to shadow LIS staff this year as LIS staff conduct workshops.  We will discuss this idea with coordinators and directors.

Curricular resource site creation

  • Bilinguals and faculty who use curricular technology frequently will be asked to place request for site creation needs in advance to allow LIS to assess demands.  At this point, there is no guarantee LIS can fill every request.  Time spent performing this work may limit time available for other, equally important tasks;
  • Joe A. is meeting with LS coordinators next Wednesday.  He will set a deadline for LS departments to communicate needs/requests;
  • Joe A. noted that a temporary and fairly straightforward means for site creation would be to use our pilot implementation of SANSpace.  The down side to this would be if decided not to move SANSpace into production; we would then need to find another platform suitable for these sites;
  • Joe A. will also find out from the coordinators when the bilinguals will be arriving.

Conversations with the team will be continued through email to make sure the appropriate conversations are taking place.

Thanks for reading
Terry & Doreen