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New WordPress Themes Available

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

We’ve made several changes to the WordPress platform, known on-campus as sites.middlebury.edu. Hey! You’re there right now!

New Header

Soon, we will update the design of the header so that a small bar appears across every blog we host with some useful links. This design is modeled on blogger.com and its purpose is to foster a sense of community amongst the many blogs we host on the site. You can read more about this design in the original White Whale strategic recommendations document on the Web Redo blog, but here is the recommendation that led us to make this change:

Once some Midd-specific WordPress themes are created, Middlebury’s blogs should be linked together via a unifying header or title bar element of some kind. The bar across the top of most Blogger blogs is a good example; it doesn’t interfere with the branding or messaging of the blog itself, but provides quick and consistent links back to the Blogger homepage and other blogs. Once some Midd-specific WordPress themes are created, Middlebury’s blogs should be linked together via a unifying header or title bar element of some kind. The bar across the top of most Blogger blogs is a good example; it doesn’t interfere with the branding or messaging of the blogitself, but provides quick and consistent links back to the Blogger homepage and other blogs.

The logo at the top left will bring you to the home page of our blogging network. If you’d like posts from your blog to appear there, send an email to website@middlebury.edu and we’ll add you to the list.

New Themes

There are three new themes available on our blogging platform. These are based on designs we received from the people who put together our new site design. We put these together in a way that makes them each to set up. The catch is that there are very few configuration options for these themes. That means these are great for people who want to set up a blog quickly and aren’t interested in doing a lot of customization on the look-and-feel of their blog. Additionally, these themes do not work properly in Internet Explorer 6. As of today, only 3.06% of visitors to our blogs use this browser and we are going to recommend phasing out support.

For themes that offer you a massive variety of customization options, be sure to check out the many theme options Alex Chapin has created for our blogging network.

BLOGS DOT MIDDLEBURY Navy

The new Navy (as in blue) theme offers a straight-forward, even minimalist, design for your blog. There is no background image on this theme, which offers two columns for you to add widgets. The left column only appears on pages with more than one post: the blog home page, search results, and archives. If you are viewing a single post or page on this theme, the left sidebar will disappear, giving the post more space on the page.

BLOGS DOT MIDDLEBURY Pastoral

The Pastoral theme features an image of the Bread Loaf campus as its background. This theme uses the same two-column format as the Navy theme, with the left column only appearing when more than one post is being displayed. The big difference with this theme is that you can change the background image if you like (more on that later).

BLOGS DOT MIDDLEBURY Map

The Map theme uses a professionally done watercolor illustration of the campus as its default background. As with the “Pastoral” theme, you can change the background image if you like. The big difference with this theme is that the left column is on the left of the blog’s content. Because of this positioning, both columns appear on all views of the blog, even when viewing a single post. Use this theme if you really like columns!

MiddLab Blog Theme

We’ve also added a new theme that you can use for a research project that you would like us to feature in MiddLab. Remember to send your MiddLab project ideas to middlab@middlebury.edu and check out the site to discuss the ongoing research projects of your fellow faculty, staff and students.

Setting up one of these themes

To add one of these themes to your blog:

  1. Click the Log in link at the top right of the page and fill in your username and password.
  2. Click the Dashboard link at the top right of the page.
  3. In the Appearance box on the left, click the Themes link.
  4. Click Activate below the picture of the theme you want to use.
  5. In the Appearance box on the left, click the Widgets link.
  6. Drag the widgets you want to use from the boxes in the center to the Left Column or Right Column boxes on the right.
  7. You’re done!

Adding a custom background image

Middlebury’s status as a top school depends on offering the services our students require. Perhaps one day Middlebury will accept penguins as applicants and you’ll be asked to create a blog for the new Office of Penguin Services and you’ll realize that you need a background image that speaks to the students you’re helping. Our themes support this.

This can only be done on the Pastoral or Map themes.

  1. Click the Log in link at the top right of the page and fill in your username and password.
  2. Click the Dashboard link at the top right of the page.
  3. In the Appearance box on the left, click the Custom Header link.
  4. Click the Browse button, select the image you want to use and click OK.
  5. You’ll be asked to crop the image you chose. Select the part of the image to use as the background and click Crop Image.
  6. You’re done!

MiddLab

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

http://go.middlebury.edu/middlab

MiddLab is a new section of Middlebury’s website with no precedent: an academic network, uniting all of the… blah, blah blah.

Truth is, MiddLab has been hard for us to explain ever since we heard the idea. A research network featuring discussions and blogs, and linking together disciplinary themes? How does that work? Rather than write a manifesto, here is what we’re trying to accomplish with MiddLab.

Our Goals

  • Make research easy to discover. If you want to know what student and faculty research is going on in a department, you shouldn’t have to know where their papers are published or the address of the project’s web site. Instead, these should be one or two clicks from our home page.
  • Show connections between research. Whether researching the population growth of trees in Biology or the population density of people in Geography, projects share themes and people interested in the topic can easily explore both.
  • Start a discussion. We encourage and recommend that you add comments to the projects on this site. Ask questions, suggest new research, or explain why you disagree with the conclusions. You can add your thoughts to any project page on MiddLab, explore the individual blogs for some projects, or contact the researchers directly.
  • Provide space for research and the sciences on our site. We’ll be expanding this site to feature more presentations from the Spring Research Symposium and research projects in our science departments. Though MiddLab is open to any student, faculty or staff projects, these are areas where we know we’re not offering enough information on our site and would like to use MiddLab to expand.

Your Feedback

We aren’t sure these are the right goals for our site. We’d like to hear from people: what would you like to see in MiddLab? What parts of this site work toward these goals and which don’t? Leave your thoughts by commenting on this page.

Oh, and if you would like us to feature your project in MiddLab, send an email to middlab@middlebury.edu.

Customize your LIS blog subscriptions

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Are you sick of automatically getting every last post and comment from this blog fed to your RSS reader or your email? Think ★ The Essentials is anything BUT essential? Don’t despair–you have options to get just the blog posts or comments you need. First, unsubscribe from the offending categories, comment, or tag feeds. Think about the categories and tags you’re really interested in, and then subscribe to them.

For example: say I work in the Music Library and only want to receive blog posts that relate to the Music Library. I find the Music Library tag (if it doesn’t display in the tag cloud, you can type music library in the search box and find a post that uses it as a tag, and click the tag). Then from the Music library tag page, I will type /feed to the end of the tag URL (http://sites.middlebury.edu/lis/tag/music-library/feed), and click enter. If I’m using an updated browser like Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer 7 or higher, a dialog for setting up the subscription using some of the most popular feed readers like Google Reader, iGoogle, My Yahoo, or Live Bookmarks (in Firefox) will automatically appear. Users of Outlook 2007 can subscribe to RSS feeds via email through this same method, or by pasting the feed link into the Outlook 2007 RSS account settings dialog box.

Another example, using categories instead of tags: Say I am in Collection management and only want to receive blog posts about my area. All I need to do is click on the category Collection management, and add /feed to the end of the URL (http://sites.middlebury.edu/lis/category/areas-and-workgroups/collection-management/feed) and click enter, and my browser will ask me which reader or email service I’d like to use to receive my updates.

We even have the option to subscribe to only posts made by specific authors. See the list of names at the bottom right side of the front LIS blog page? Click the RSS button next to the name or copy and paste the feed URL into Outlook 2007 to subscribe: (e.g. to get only posts written by the Dean of LIS, you’d use: http://sites.middlebury.edu/lis/author/mdroy/feed/)

If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to adjust the amount of items you receive from your blog subscriptions. If you have your subscriptions set up well, you won’t need to keep visiting the blog to see what’s new–it will automatically come to your RSS reader or your email. It is a good idea to check back on the blog once every so often to make sure you’re not missing any salient new categories or posts. And taking a look at your reader or email subscriptions every once in a while to weed out any frequently-unread feeds will help you control the volume of posts that you receive.

Also check out an earlier post I made about how the LIS Website team set up Categories and Tags on this blog.

Announcement of change in LIS Screening Policy

Dear Colleagues,

I’m writing to let you know of a change in LIS support for film and video screenings that will go into effect for the Spring 2010 semester. Due to staffing and budget reductions in LIS, we are no longer able to provide projectionist assistance for screening videos in DVD, VHS and Laserdisc formats.

Nothing will change for regularly scheduled screenings in Dana, Twilight Aud., and AXN 232. LIS will continue to hire student projectionists to support screenings in these rooms, and you should continue to send your screening schedules to LibReserves, and the Helpdesk as early as possible before the start of the semester to schedule screenings and place DVDs on reserve. This also means that any 16mm and 35mm screenings will run through LIS. The new LIS website, when it launches, will provide an on line request form which will streamline your process for making these requests.

LIS will not support “impromptu screenings” with less than 1 week’s notice. We will need at least a week’s lead time to support any screenings that have not been scheduled at the beginning of the semester.

For all screenings in rooms besides Dana, Twilight, and AXN 232, it will now be faculty’s responsibility to run the screening or arrange for a student screener. You should still place your DVD titles on reserve via the LibRes email box – include the date/time of each DVD title to be screened so that LIS can “book” the title for your screening, effectively blocking others from checking them out prior to your screening. You should contact Stewart Lane (wlane@middlebury.edu) if you need to be trained on the projection equipment in a given room.

Faculty who cannot attend their screening should plan to hire a student in the class to serve as projectionist.  This will be run through the department, as with other student workers. LIS Staff members will not be available to run screenings, except for exceptional circumstances. If you will have a designated student screener, you can email Stewart Lane (wlane@middlebury.edu) if you would like them to be trained. You should also email the name(s) of your designated student screeners to Circulation Services library_circulation@middlebury.edu, so that the student screeners can be granted the appropriate loaning privileges.

While we understand that this is an inconvenience for faculty, the reality is that at our present staffing levels Media Services simply cannot dedicate the time to scheduling and training students at the level they have been. LIS is committed to hiring and training student assistants to staff the Helpdesk during the day and in the evenings so that in the case of difficulties with equipment, there is always someone available to come to the screening location to assist.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this issue, and if you have any suggestions for how we can improve this process.

Sincerely,

– mike

Michael Roy

Dean of Library and Information Services