Sunday, February 8, 2009

Table 1 comment cards

  • make the shared development team happen (find shared space)
  • How to reduce cost of developing new technology?
  • How can we be agile yet inclusive/communicative?
  • Data Driven Decision Making
  • Statistics that run themselves and never break
  • Multi media support
  • "sound bite" expectations
  • Effective priority setting for our scarce resources
  • Better educate Admin on tech issues
  • Web graphic design
  • Single search
  • Is latest tech the greatest tech?
  • Time for R&D professional development for all of us
  • Prioritization Model
  • Time to play/experiment
  • Site search and efacs integration, particularly in searching
  • Extensible Infrastructure: build an infrastructure that supports a continuous evolution of our bread'n butter services
  • Singe Search Box
  • How do we facilitate resource discovery search (me Google-like box?) browse cool library site of the day? Random collection?
  • A better, more innovative and easier to update catalog interface.
  • Clearly define relationships for different units within the libraries
  • Build social connections (opportunities to share etc.) with it.
  • Strengthen our inter-group connections
  • Insure open communications between all of us
  • IT-library Cross-competence
  • I Tech are clannish
  • More coordination, better communication between our 3 groups
  • How to stop tweaking the old tech?
  • Complete wisccal syncing all years. (okay I'll admit this is a not, but I'm full of nots.)
  • Talk to end users, customers
  • What do students want? Do they care about lib services?
  • What are high schoolers using now?
  • Advance the cause of open access, open data, open software
  • Support for data management/curation for researchers.
  • How can library and IT support researchers needs?
  • Provide shared services to the Arts and Humanities community
  • Bring academic technology into the scholarly communications and publishing effort
  • What can we contribute to the "national scene" in library IT?
  • Align our work with campus strategic plans
Excel file listing all comments

Table 2 comment cards

  • Build instead of buy
  • How can new ideas be spread?
  • Support
  • Cross-Training
  • Actually does what they say it does
  • Data Integrity
  • Version control
  • Better standards
  • Systems that can safely fail (think threading)
  • Asynchronous workflow
  • User centered design (and someone who knows how to do it)
  • More contact between groups
  • Influence thinking in non-IT depts. In library system.
  • Better browsing
  • Service definition vs. org structure
  • Integrate service offerings
  • How do we know if we're doing a good job?
  • Communication-Spreading ideas between IT groups, influencing thinking in non-IT groups
  • Integrated system (modular, Customizable, flexible, stable, specialized) Build or buy?
  • System should have: version control, data integrity, deep support, less ambiguous standards, multiple independent environments
  • Modular system (integrated)
  • Customizable
  • Humanities research support
  • Parallel vs. Interdependent work flows per circumstances
  • Don’t fear specialization and it's inevitable consequences.
  • Balance flexibility with stability
Excel file listing all comments

Table 3 comment cards

  • Cluster 4 work group communication
  • More awareness of bigger context
  • Shorter, succint communication in sync for that day
  • We don’t know what we do
  • Too many meetings but not enough communication. Freedom to talk?
  • Moderately sized interest clusters
  • Do we really work together? It seems like there are many reports about production what are the reports about other projects/processes?
  • Expertise Diffusion: among ourselves, to other librarians and IT folks, to the rest of the institution, how do we get attention? Skills to the masses!
  • Meetings, we have too many. Unproductive.
  • Communication: among ourselves, with other lib units, with out wasting time, with lib administration, with the rest of the university
  • Communications between units. Collaboration across boundaries
  • Isolation: feeling unsupported, mission unclear, performance unclear, morale-busting
  • Cluster:6 Organizational Issues. Rank: 2
  • Administration management of resources
  • Reactive Vs. Proactive: is our job to do what comes down to us from our fearless leaders? Or are we supposed to set the agenda? Lead?
  • I'd like to see less top=down direction and more TRUST in the intelligence, skills and ideas coming up from the grass roots
  • Making our case to those who hold the purse strings
  • Other campus stakeholders territoriality exclusion
  • What does it take to obtain trust?
  • No direction. Authority to select direction. NO more vetoes
  • Cluster: 3 Experimentation and innovation rank:3
  • I like seeing interesting and informative presentations at conferences. I like it more when the speaker is someone with whom I work.
  • Can we generate ideas? Then "hire" a tech person to make them viable?
  • Experimentation: permission? Time? Materials? Priorities?
  • What happened to our agility?
  • Embracing risk
  • Cluster: 1 Workspace and Software rank: 5
  • In the future...a CLEAR, uncluttered workspace that feels good to get to
  • Can we please stop paying top-dollar for lousy crap? This is probably bigger in scope than this discussion and this room.
  • Our high end equipment=2 better light cameras. Can we scan more difficult, complex, beautiful material.
  • Physical Space: what is happening to small campus libraries? (Purdue), can we put a space bid in if some close?, much time wasted in travel
  • Efficiency: no drudge work for people (give it to the computers) Automation of common processes
  • Cluster:5 assessment and usability Rank:6
  • Improve usability
  • Assessment Ranking User focus HCL info arch
  • Since we are state university, can we connect to needs of smaller groups in state? Do they need to be university-affiliated before we help?
  • How do we find most interesting most exploratory material to scan?
  • Cluster:2 Services rank:4
  • Libraries and the research process: scholarly communications, data curation, collection, embedding libraries, us or IT?
  • Archive analog and digital
  • Build community spaces around the (digital) collections
  • Reformat to provide remote access to content to end user. (analog books, serials, microfilm, glass negatives, etc.)
  • Address the needs of future users (aka preservation)
  • Continue work in traditional analog preservation work to assure access to printed materials.
Excel file listing all comments

Table 4 comment cards

  • Library overhaul: management commit to new development. Replace old outdated systems- madcat, first search, 11 digit. User assessment of service, stop designing for librarians design for patrons.
  • Change structure: combine support structure. Economy at scale on physical and personal resources (full and student). Combo of info lab, library, computing services. Improve customer service streamline structure.
  • Teaching and sharing knowledge: improve base computer knowledge, expect base common knowledge. Improve training to reduce intimidation, and resistance to change. Increase transfer of knowledge with in office and depts.
  • Stop designing interfaces for library staff. Start designing for patrons.
  • Get rid of II digit login to madcat- Net ID instead.
  • Library management needs to enable and commit to new development.
  • Develop a long term plan for using real user assessment of our environment. (resource discovery, web site)
  • Replace madcat, metalib, firstsearch, sitesearct, etc. with a modern integrated resource discovery environment.
  • More campus feedback fro beta projects. Main patrons are students, see what they want and then give it to them.
  • Resistance to change, scared of the unknown, lack of training with new tech or procedure.
  • Transfer of knowledge, people learn differently, also making assumptions on what is common knowledge.
  • Improve user training and base computer knowledge
  • How to make patrons not afraid of new technology
  • More collaboration with campus/DoIT
  • Combine DoIt Infolab and library "terminals"
  • Combine all student staff into one group
  • Combine common functions in all three areas (e.g. student mgmt, production support) why are we separate?
  • Isolation of groups leading to poor working relations
  • Troubleshooting is universal- combine duplicative efforts between groups.
  • Share infrastructure and systems between our departments.
  • share technical expertise between departments
  • improve communication between departments
  • Focus, digression, on task
  • Specialization vs. Generalization in support and development
  • Improve customer service
  • Bigger, more announced campus presence (marketing). How do we do this? Is it even important for people to know who we are and what we do? Do other library entities even know about us? Ties into customer service?
  • work on projects that staff really appreciate
Excel file listing all comments

Table 5 comment cards

  • Focus on core mission, providing access to library resources. Clearly define support expectations, SLA's, ect. Commitment to DR plan.
  • We need high profile projects that could generate income.
  • Uw Madison to run a statewide library system
  • Work toward large scale efficient textual analysis (a la Saxton et. al) Leaning toward cataloging matching.
  • More emphasis on cost/benefit (fewer toys and less push for the "latest thing")
  • Turn off computers at night- Try to be more green
  • More outreach and cooperation (with system and CIC and locally)
  • To make working together more efficient have people in the same group have offices closer together.
  • Administrative dysfunction delaying implementation
  • define mission and scope
  • don’t be distracted by new technology, but rather figure out what's relevant to our mission
  • DR plan with a budget
  • SLA's
  • We need a better procedure to get everything in place for a new employee
  • when there is an issue, the on call phone should be called first...NOT individuals on the team.
  • Promote personalization
  • Break from "techie" perspective
  • Bad vendor support- application
  • Lack of institutional focus reprioritize
Excel file listing all comments

Table 6 comment cards

  • How do end users interact with our stuff?
  • We all need to be in the same space to collaborate.
  • Top-down mandates should be vetted, approved/rejected/below modified.
  • end users/search
  • need a way to see how content is used, specifically in classrooms
  • need better mechanisms to get and respond to user feedback specifically about search needs
  • Improve our search interface Patrons don’t understand
  • sociality
  • Cocktails in the afternoon
  • Let's all be drunk
  • outreach and communication
  • More LTG/UWDCC/LIRA socializing mixing
  • more cooperation outreach outside the university (conferences, presentation, campus visits..)
  • Improve relationships with library stats- integration?
  • Space issues
  • Space! We should all be closer together ( and have windows) and doors and walls!
  • Tech/ Infrastructure
  • Shared development tools, website
  • refocus on existing systems and platforms some need updating
  • emphasis on infrastructure support- for new and future systems
  • replace voyager with open-source ils packages
  • need stable systems in UWDC since we are production oriented
  • Staffing issues
  • Equitable salaries value skills!
  • sense that all skills are important and valued
  • more permanent staff
  • Internal communication
  • we don’t really know what each other do a lot of the time
  • I don’t understand how to improve communication about our services/tools *** the library for libra********
  • ownership of problems--better response to internal questions and problems
  • clarify relationship between UWDC and other tech units
  • Clarify responsibilities/duties- who do I bug about what?
  • flexible procedures
Excel file listing all comments

Friday, January 9, 2009


I just wanted to drop a quick line thanking those who planned and carried out yesterday's meeting. The subject matter wasn't entirely what I was expecting, but in all honesty, I think what happened was more useful than what I was thinking would happen.

I really enjoyed talking to colleagues I rarely have a chance to see, and I was deeply impressed with the insights generated, as well as the straightforward, honest, optimistic manner in which they were communicated and received.

I am proud to work with all of you.

Retreat White Board Photos

Here are the photos of the white board text from the retreat yesterday. I've tried to add a little bit of context information to hopefully help you remember when the lists were made and why. If you click on the image you'll get a full size version where the text is quite easy to read.

Snow Card exercise lists Tables 1-4 top 3 topics

Snow Card exercise lists Tables 5-6 top 3 topics

Snow Card exercise Questions and Out-liers

Speed Geek Topics

Speed Geek Trends board 1, left hand side

Speed Geek Trends board 2, right hand side

Fulcrums, some of the important end of the day stuff

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Deep Thoughts...not by Jack Handy

(This is a duplicate of what I sent in email)

I am sure some of you are wondering...What exactly are we doing on Thursday? Is there homework? How should we prep for this?

First, I fully expect the day will be interesting and fun. Yes - there is a mechanism in place to help us identify common themes and focus our thinking on these themes - and some of you may roll your eyes at this. But when it comes right down to it, we are all going to get to talk about what we like to do, what we want to do, and what we should be doing!

In short, the purpose of the day is to try to identify the issues and opportunities that are in front of us. Where do we want to go and how do we get there? What's important on the horizon to our world?

Will we walk away with answers? Maybe. Maybe not. That's not necessarily the goal of the day. But at a minimum I hope to walk away with a better understanding of the issues and a set of ideas/projects/problems for us to focus on. If we actually solve problems at the same time - all the better.

So, to prepare for this, you simply need to be thinking about these types of questions. What do we do? What holds us back? What do we want to do?

If you have looked at the blog, you will see a wide variety of concerns, issues, questions...they are all fair game for Thursday. The limitation on the discussion is simply: is it relevant to what we do? So talking about existing projects or policies or practices (or lack thereof!) is appropriate. So are new ideas for technologies and services we could or should provide.

We are all smart people - who are confronted daily with challenges and opportunities. Here's a chance for us, as a group, to work together to identify what is important to us and to our users.

Looking forward to this discussion!


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The bleeding edge

Reading the agenda for the Thursday meeting, I confess I feel a little discouraged -- not because it's poorly-planned or a bad idea, but because the way it's being organized looks to me as though it will herd attendees toward safe, obvious, well-travelled, non-controversial paths.

I live on the bleeding edge. (For those who don't know me, I'm responsible for MINDS@UW, the UW System institutional repository.) Libraries in general and the UW in particular are far from settled or sure about what they should be doing vis-a-vis scholarly communication, knowledge management, data curation, digital preservation, et cetera. I sometimes find myself the only champion (or nearly) for these emerging issues and their technical requirements.

It seems impossible for me all by my lonesome to make these issues a priority in a consensus-based, majority-rules environment such as Thursday's session, much less the top-down environment that is the normal state of things here. That's not necessarily good or bad -- I may be a flaky nutjob, after all -- it just is. I am well aware that I have not created sufficient buy-in; in the scattered environment this retreat is partly intended to address, I don't have any readily available ways of earning it.

I doubt my constellation of issues is unique. There are, I'm sure, a number of bleeding-edge ideas or issues or technologies that individuals among us are interested in and have no way to move forward on. Some of them are huge (like data curation), some are relatively minor (e.g. somebody wanting a wiki). Some of them could be production services, some of them are internal-efficiency improvements. Sometimes they're just things we'd like to throw up on a server somewhere and poke at.

Does the bleeding edge have a home here? What are the implications if it doesn't? How do we mainstream bleeding-edge products and services, if we manage to work with them at all? On Thursday specifically, how do we keep potentially important minority issues from being roundfiled forever as "passing fads" or "buzzwords"?

Who's at the retreat?

I have had a few requests to include a list of everyone who is included in this retreat. If I miss someone, misspell a name, etc, just let me know...

Mark Beatty (facilitator) (WiLS)

Julia Fleming (LIRA)
Mark Foster (LIRA)
Kay Gehrke (LIRA)
Tim Lehmann (LIRA)
Jim Liedeka (LIRA)
Jim Muehlenberg (LIRA)
Scott Prater (LIRA)
Keith Rye (LIRA)
Anne Schilling (LIRA)
Mike Simpson (LIRA)
Rose Smith (LIRA)
Laura Caruso (UWDCC)
Steven Dast (UWDCC)
Peter Gorman (UWDCC)
Andrew Gough (UWDCC)
Melissa McLimans (UWDCC)
Sandy Paske (UWDCC)
Dorothea Salo (UWDCC)
Brian Sheppard (UWDCC)
Meredith Thompson (UWDCC)
Vicki Tobias (UWDCC)
Pat Tuchscherer (UWDCC)
Leah Ujda (UWDCC)
Dave Luke (GLS)
Pete Boguszewski (LTG)
Andy Craven (LTG)
Sue Dentinger (LTG)
Edie Dixon (LTG)
Ryan Freng (LTG)
Brendan Giese (LTG)
Lisa Haller (LTG)
Mitch Lundquist (LTG)
Mark McClung (LTG)
Stephen Meyer (LTG)
Curran Riley (LTG)
David Waugh (LTG)

Monday, January 5, 2009

What will be UWDCC's role in this new working environment?

Generally speaking, the UWDCC been focused on content creation. We work with campus faculty, librarians and students to digitize resources that support teaching and research. These resources are delivered to users by the systems and platforms developed and supported by LTG and LIRA. In the past, most of us in UWDCC have not been directly involved in this technology development process. Like other units within the library, we are an end user of those systems and platforms created by LTG and LIRA.

At one point, there was discussion as to whether or not UWDCC should continue to be grouped with library technology, with suggestions that collection development, preservation or public services might be a more appropriate place for our group to live within the library system. I'm not advocating one way or the other but simply asking:

1. What will be UWDCC's role within this new UWDCC/LTG/LIRA working environment?

2. What is the expectation for our group? More digitization? Less digitization? Different formats? Quality vs. quantity? More staff? Different skills sets?

3. What about digitization for preservation vs. digitization for access?

4. How might we be more involved in the technology development process (platforms, systems, widgets, etc.)? Should we be more involved in the technology development process?

5. While it's exciting to ponder development of new technologies, the UWDC is a large digital collection that requires day-to-day maintenance. How can we be sure our trouble-shooting needs for core systems/platforms (e.g. EFacs, SiteSearch, Litmus, etc.) are given priority over new development? For example, our production staff depends on Litmus functioning correctly. When Litmus dies, our production "machine" screeches to a halt, the result of which may be 10-15 students with no work for several hours (wasted resources), pushed or missed deadlines, unhappy content providers (faculty!), or all of the above. With 60+ projects in our production queue at any given time, any system breakdown is problematic, especially when some of our projects are grant-funded with inflexible deadlines.

Retreat Menu

Here's a taste of what we're planning for the retreat, on
Thursday, January 8th, 2009, noon - 4:30pm at the Pyle Center, Room 313.
It's a listing of our preliminary agenda and ideas for the retreat. Hopefully it will help everyone with their thinking coming into the session. Also please remember to continue checking out the retreat blog at:

Noon – Pizza for Lunch
• Self selected seating and gossip time
12:45 – Intros and first exercise
• Ice breaker, tagging yourself
• David – 10 word or less, statement of the days intent
• Mark - Framework and Rules for the day
• First exercise – Snow Cards
  • Mixed up seating at tables
  • Write ideas on cards and put into "kitty" on your table
  • Table group then prioritize and rank cards looking for commonality
  • Tables report out their top 3 to the whole room
  • Vote as a whole on top 5 or 6
2:30 – Break

2:45 – Second Exercise
• Speed Geeking
  • Self selected tables or birds of a feather
  • ID experts, one per table. Could be a facilitator for a specific idea/issue/question
  • Experts/recorder stays at their table with flip chart
  • Everyone else rotates on command, about every 5 minutes
  • Everyone visits every table in order
  • Discussions are captured on flip charts
  • Report out by table/expert/recorder to white board
  • Looking for key ideas, common concerns etc
4:00 – End of day
• Start integrating ideas from both sessions
• Lists could include:
  • Items, issues, questions, concerns
  • Priorities
  • Additional associated lists could include:
  • Low hanging fruit
  • Commonalities with outside agencies
  • Parallels with other systems and developments
4:30 - David and Mark wrap as necessary and goodbyes

Communication & documentation

One day-to-day logistical issue that I think we should spend a little time talking about is how such a large, physically separated, diverse group of people can best communicate with one another.
  • How does a project that one person starts impact the work of others?
  • What are the best trouble shooting methods for various problems?
    • Who is the proper person to contact
    • How should progress on solving the problem be shared with all impacted people
  • Do the people you're talking to know what you're talking about?
    • With so many individuals, and so many different projects in progress, it's important to make sure everyone in a meeting/email chain/whatever is up to date on the issue at hand and any history behind it.
    • How does one avoid getting buried in jargon? We all have technical roles to varying degrees, but different areas of expertise.
  • How can we improve documentation of conversations, decisions, technical rules and requirements?
    • Who are different audiences, within and outside of our group, that might need to know this info?
    • Is documentation useful/useable to all of these various audiences?
    • Assess worst case scenario documentation- if all of us are abducted by aliens, could a new group of people figure out what we were doing and pick up where we left off?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Forward. Thinking.

Here are a few thoughts on some of the original questions put to the group.

What do we do well?

  • We get things done
  • Design, build and support an infrastructure
What services are users/librarians going to be asking for that we will need to provide?

Good bread and butter services:
  • Make searching our lists of books, articles and databases not suck
  • Let me personalize my library online, whether at your website or one of my choosing
  • Be intelligent about things you should know: single sign-on/profile services (know which courses I am enrolled in)

What are some new and interesting projects that we are debating within our peer groups or teams?
  • Personalized library home page
  • A Netflix-like experience with the library (fun, endless)

What new techs are out there that we will/should take advantage of?

Forget new technologies – 98% will be passing fads, let’s spend our time beefing up and modernizing our old technologies: our websites, search indexes, user profiles.

How can we help drive service improvement, rather than simply react to demands?
  • Prototype
  • Iterate
  • Prototype
  • Iterate
  • Prototype

What do we need (staff/resources/space/training/time) to meet the demands of the library?
  • Support from our colleagues in the form of trust and well-defined communication mechanisms (willingness to communicate and good-faith efforts towards understanding each other)
  • Clear direction on the priorities and expectations in broad general terms
  • Freedom to define the particulars:
    • what technologies we will use
    • what services will work together
    • who our collaborators will be

What holds us back?
  • As peter once put it in the context of the Google book project: "letting the perfect be the enemy of the good"
  • Pursuing buzzword technologies for the sake of being buzzwordy
  • Seeking out collaboration w/ people for the sake of collaborating and forcing a shared purpose when none exists

Google Data falls down, goes boom

So Google Research Data didn't make it.

Do we, collectively, Libraries and IT both, have a place in this space? If so, what is it?