Area 51 notes – Jan. 14, 2010

Present: Bernier, Peddie, Rehbach, Roy, Sax, Simpkins
Guests: Chris Norris; Digital Archives Team

We’re back again, after missing several meetings due to holidays, retreats, and cancellations due to the reaccreditation orientation held last week.

Chris Norris joined us for an update on the Google Apps project. There are currently about 200 users signed up, with the reaccreditation project generating a substantial increase in the number of users.  In order to move the project forward to include Gmail, Calendaring, and other useful apps (possibly, GoogleTalk, GoogleVideo, and GoogleWave), Chris strongly recommended we move forward on a restructuring of the Active Directory database, necessary in part to allow us to distinguish between classes of users.  Chris noted that most schools now implementing Google Apps do not roll it out for students only, as we were considering, but include faculty and staff from the beginning.  The group discussed how best to move forward, what resources would be required, and what projects or work might be competing for time and attention if we focus on this project now.  The resources involved are primarily staff, not money, and there may be some competition for staff resources as we roll out a new course management system.  As the project moves ahead, there will be substantial tech support, education, and documentation efforts needed from User Services as well as ETI.  That said, it was agreed that the project seems feasible and everyone heartily agreed that it was a worthy effort to move in this direction.  Mike advised that the project team meet again to kick-off the project, with the anticipation of rolling this out for Fall 2010 (for stu/fac/staff; alumni will happen later).

We discussed various scenarios for moving ahead on wireless networking, and discussed several possible priorities, from blanketing the Main Library with wireless to having broader coverage, but with perhaps less available bandwidth, in dorms, to resurrecting the yellow cable program as a low cost alternative.  Issues with midd_secure need to be examined as well.  Ultimately, we decided to bring in a consultant to review our network architecture for problems before we started simply installing more access points.  Once the review is complete, we will have a better idea of where to focus resources.  We will also need to be mindful of how this may affect Ilsley Library.

Next, we engaged in our annual discussion about the timing and requirements for the staff evaluation (PFDP) process. The new forms that HR distributed raised some questions, primarily about whether LIS will require documentation beyond what HR requires (the trend seemed to be inclining against this) and how to evaluate staff performance on teams.  We will ask Sheila Andrus from HR to join us next week to answer some of the questions raised.

The Digital Archives Team joined us at the end of the meeting.  The team discussed their activities thus far, and demonstrated the new Digital Collections webpage.  They also presented recommendations for a process to approve and prioritize proposed digital project, which essentially consists of a committee to review and approve projects and a new “digital center” to establish standards for the project and undertake much of the work.  These recommendations are consistent with suggestions from an earlier Middlebury report, as well as with procedures at other institutions.  The digital center, if approved, would likely involve mostly Collection Management staff, but may involve shifting student resources from other areas of LIS.  It is expected that there would be overlap in personnel between the approval committee and the digital center.  The ADs asked the team to finalize their recommendations, and perhaps suggest staff positions that are likely to have involvement on the committee and the center, do a bit more work on prioritizing criteria for selection of digital projects, and prepare a summary.

4 thoughts on “Area 51 notes – Jan. 14, 2010

  1. Tom

    If rolled out to all of the community do you envision using Gmail for Faculty and Staff as well or having a choice for those community members?

    1. Terry Simpkins

      Hi Tom,
      It appears that many institutions are rolling out GMail for their entire student, faculty, and staff constituency. If it’s feasible, and if all the relevant issues are worked out satisfactorily (e.g., calendaring), we would be inclined to adopt that approach as well. However, we do need to engage these constituencies in the process and gather their input before adopting a wholesale switch-over. Another factor is that the primary financial benefit from doing this is lost if we migrate some groups to GMail but continue to maintain our Exchange servers for others.


      Terry Simpkins
      Director of Collection Management
      Music Library/CFA
      72 Porter Field Rd.
      Middlebury College
      Middlebury, VT 05753
      (802) 443-5045 (o)
      (802) 443-2332 (fax)

  2. Jeff Lahaie

    Will there be an evaluation of Microsoft’s Live@edu product before we go forward with this?

    People currently using Microsoft Office may have a lower learning curve. It also offers 25 GB of free online storage, as well as a 10GB mailbox. Last time I checked, the free version of Google Apps supplied a 7.3GB mailbox.

    1. Terry Simpkins

      Hi Jeff,
      Yes, we are aware of Live@edu. Initially, at least, Google Apps seems to be a richer and more forward-looking experience, but we also know that Skidmore (just to name one nearby institution) recently chose Live@edu over Google Apps. So we do plan on talking with folks there in order to learn more about the factors that went into their decision.

      Thank you for raising this,


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