Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New CMS Managed Employee Bios

This Thursday, November 5th we’ll be updating the employee directory ( to link to the new CMS managed employee bios. We’ll also be updating the web site so any links to the old employee bio pages will get redirected to the new employee directory.

If you provided us with an employee bio last year to be used in the CMS, you can look at your new bio now by going to:

for example,

Even if you didn’t send us a bio before, you can now create and edit your own employee bio through the CMS! In order use the CMS, you must have attended a CMS training session. Our next open CMS training sessions are being held on November 12 and November 25, 9:30am-noon (more information on CMS Training Sessions). Please contact Camilla Fulton ( or Robert Slater ( if you plan on attending. Registration is not required, and drop-ins are always welcomed (but letting us know you plan on attending helps us make sure we have enough hand-outs prepared).

Instructions on how to create and edit your employee bio pages can be found in the help section of the CMS (upper right hand corner, the "? Help" button) under "All Training Materials", "OpenCMS 203… Making and editing Employee Bio pages").

If you create a new employee bio, please let us know so we can add a link to it from the employee directory. All you need to do is contact Camilla Fulton ( or Robert Slater ( and let us know you’re bio is ready to be linked from the employee directory.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

CMS updated, Pasting from Word 2007...

Today we updated part of our CMS (tinyMCE, the program you are using when you create or edit a page). The most significant improvement this update provides is better handling of copying/pasting of content from Microsoft Word 2007. The old version was allowing some Microsoft generated markup to slip in. The updated version will correctly clean up all the unnecessary Microsoft Word 2007 markup from the document. However, in order for the system to properly initiate this cleanup, you must use the "Paste from Word" option. The "Paste from Word" option is located on the far right of the toolbar- an image of a clipboard with a W on it. If you paste Word 2007 content directly into one of the content areas (Content, Content for left column, or Content for right column), instead of using the "Paste from Word" option, then the system will not remove the extraneous Word markup. Please remember to always use the "Paste from Word" option if you are copying content from Microsoft Word documents into the CMS.

Screenshot of tinyMCE interface with the paste From Word button highlighted

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Get your logos in line...

Yesterday I attended one of the Illinois Identity Standards Workshops presented by Joel Steinfeldt ( and Bridget Jamieson ( Joel and Bridget gave an excellent presentation, and I really appreciated (as I’m sure others did) the comprehensives of their presentation, as well as their willingness to stick around after it was over and answer all of the audience’s follow-up questions (mostly along the lines of, “Oaky, but does this apply to this thing my department is doing?” Here are my notes/highlights (please send me any corrections, I was madly trying to absorb it all, ask questions, look over material that was being passed around, and take these notes ;) .

The I-mark and related logos that incorporated the I-mark were originally developed in 1997, and Creative Services provided logos incorporating the I-mark at no charge to U of I entities subsequent to its creation. The original design was horizontal (mostly for use headers/footers).

Joel estimates, conservatively, that the cost for across campus for units to hiring out or do in-house logo designs has cost the university $383k-$816k (conservatively), and this doesn’t include efforts to get the logo/brand recognized (research shows 8-12 exposures are required for someone to recognize a logo).

Most units that have created/used logos haven’t investigates trademark and legal issues surrounding the logos they created, and where they did they duplicated university spending on the official brand (I-mark and related identity branding).

In 1996 the Provost required all units to consistently use the I-mark, and we achieved a >90% compliance.

Market research has been conducted and the term “Illinois”, right after the term “University of Illinois”, is the term most closely associated with our campus (recognition generated by our renowned athletics department largely contributed to this).

Departments, units and programs should only refer to themselves in text (that includes the horizontal designs with the I-mark leading, like on the current library gateway, with some minor modifications- more on that later).

Although either logo is acceptable, the preferred logo is the simple Illinois Logo (I-mark and text Illinois) rather than the Urbana-Champaign logo.

Joel and Bridget gave a quick overview of some campus leaders with regards to being compliant with the new standards. I didn’t have time to note them all, but they included the College of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, and the School of Social Work.

The Illinois Identity Standards site has a Brand Rubric for Logo/Identity Standards Exemptions that you can use to determine if something should rate a logo exemption.

The new standards include a grace period up to September 7, 2008 for web and print materials. Already produced print materials can be used up even if they don’t comply until January 1, 2010. The new rules apply to web pages and PowerPoint presentations developed after September 7, 2008 and will apply to all campus home pages (but not all their web content pages) by January 1, 2009. The standard will be extended to all web pages January 1, 2010. There is now a consequence for not following these standards (a first for logos/identity standards). It is included in the Strategic Plan metric, although details on analysis and enforcement/penalties haven’t been firmed up yet.

They are rigorous, recently updated rules for licensing merchandise. Among others requirements, if the i-Mark is used on merchandise it must include the trademark or registered trademark version of the I-mark. All merchandise must be manufactured by a University of Illinois approved licensed manufacturer Part of getting approved on this list forces them to adhere to fair labor practices, they must carry a certain amount of insurance (cotton allergies and they sue us, the manufacturer, etc.- the manufacturer must also have insurance), etc. They must also prove they can meet minimum quality requirements, and must pay a royalty fee.

There are some materials that you may work with that exempts it from requiring the tm or registered tm- if it would negatively effect the aesthetic design, it would negatively effect the quality of the product, etc (like the little brass I-mark magnetic pins they handed out today). However, the packaging the merchandise comes in, if any, should include the registered tm/tm on the packaging somewhere.

Creative Services is offering free consultation services to assist with compliant redesign of elements that have been flagged as logos.

As long as the graphic element you are making/using doesn’t represent a campus unit, you can stylize the material. So material promoting a particular one-off event or product can have its own logo-like element. A magazine is a product of a unit, so the magazine could have its own logo.

Course materials, teaching materials, personal faculty pages, etc. are not covered by this standard.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New UIUC Library LibX Toolbar for Firefox

Sorry for the big gap in posting, but we've been busy in the Office of Web technologies & Content Coordination. I'll make some more general updates about what we've been up to shortly, but before that, and without further ado, I bring to you: the library LibX toolbar!

David Ward and I have been working on a LibX toolbar for the UIUC library, the LibX University Of Illinois at Urbana Champaign edition (we'll have some more information and screenshots put together as soon as we finish adding all the additional features people have been requesting ;) . This toolbar offers all of the options that were available in the UIUC Library Toolbar, as well as some new ones. Even better, the LibX toolbar works with the Firefox 3. We'll be making some announcements to libnews list-serv shortly. Stay tuned! For now, feel free to download the latest build of the LibX University Of Illinois at Urbana Champaign edition. You can leave feedback or requests regarding the toolbar here on the blog, send it to David or me directly, or use the built in "Comments about the UIUC Library Toolbar" options in the libX Quick Links drop down menu (the far right hand menu in the libX toolbar).

LibX is supported by an amazing open source community. Unfortunately, while they were rushing to update LibX to work with Firefox 3, some of the changes they made caused the Internet Explorer version of the toolbar to break (see: LibX Internet Explorer Version Features and Issues) , but we expect a new IE compatible version to be available soon. Until then, IE users can continue to use the UIUC Library Toolbar for Internet Explorer. More to follow…

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Today - Next Gen Catalog Forum - live streaming and chat!

Today's Next Generation Catalog Forum will provide you with the option to virtually attend, in case you are off campus today (or just too busy to get away from your library or desk ;). GSLIS has provided generous support on this (big thanks to Matt Beth!) so we can test one possible way of offering online access to library events in the future. So stop by in person or on our web page ( today from 2-4pm (Central Time) and learn about the exciting Next Gen Catalogs the library is investigating (as well as give us some feedback on our online event).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Library Committee Handbook" CMS Conversions

The Library Office of Web Technologies & Content Coordination would like to help library committees with the process of converting their existing content from within the "Library Committee Handbook" portion of the library web site into our CMS (Content Management System). There is a considerable amount of content in this section of our web site that will need to be converted, including committee meeting minutes (over 2,700 files). We know that you're busy, and just keeping up with creating and posting your most recent minutes can be challenging at times, so we want to offer our help in converting your old committee pages over to the CMS.

This conversion process won't at all affect the content you currently have posted. The textual and graphical content of all documents converted and transferred into the CMS will not be changed at all during the conversion process. The only changes that will be made during the conversion process will be to update the underlying (x)html code to insure that all documents in the CMS are valid and accessible. All committees will get to review all conversions before anything is made available to the public. Your committee doesn't need to have CMS training, or access to the CMS, or anything else to take advantage of this conversion process. All you have to do is... nothing! We are offering this as an opt-out service. If you would prefer that our office not convert any of your committee's content into the CMS (because, we hope, you are so eager and excited about doing the conversions yourselves) just send an email to me, Robert Slater ( and let us know.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Come See Robert McChesney and I will personally give you a prize***!

Got your attention now? Come to the ACES Library Heritage Room tomorrow (May 6, 2008) at 3:30 and listen to what's sure to be an engaging lecture by Robert McChesney, "Revolution in the Digital Revolution: We Must Learn from the Past to Rip the Claws of the Past from the Future."

This event is being presented by the Library Colloquium Committee.

A Lecture by Robert McChesney, Gutgsell Endowed Professor Department of Speech Communication and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Date: Tuesday May 6, 4:00 PM. *Refreshments at 3:30 PM*
Location: ACES Library - Heritage Room

For more information on the first Colloquium Committee speaker for 2008, please go to the new UIUC Library Colloquium Committee web page.

This event is free and open to the public, please feel free to pass this information along to other interested parties.

*** Due to budgetary (coffee money!) limitations, the prizes will be similar in content to the Marvel Comics Letter's to the Editor "No-Prize", ;P

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My notes from the CLIR Workshop on Faculty research Behavior, George Washington University April 28-29

Day 1

We spent the morning doing a breakfast meet and great, where each person from a particular institution introduced the other from their institution. Prepping for this gave me a good chance to learn quite a bit more about JoAnn, including our shared love of critically panned/unpopular movies: in particular Joe Versus the Volcano and The Fifth Element. I also found that U of I is very well represented at this event, not just by JoAnn and myself, but also by U of I GSLIS grads/past employees (and current advanced degree students ;) Elizabeth Edwards and Jennifer Ward. You can see a full list of who was there at the bottom of this post (they where all super cool and agreed to let me mention them by name even without seeing what I was saying about them :) .

Following breakfast/introductions, Nancy Foster lead this workshop (she's is one of the few, and possibly only, people doing this type of research as it relates to libraries). She very generously consented to let me post my notes about what we did there. Nancy gave us some brief tips on how to do ethnographic observations, and then set us out into various locations on the George Washington (G Dub, apparently) campus, in pairs (separated from our institutional buddies). We mapped our spaces (quick sketched maps) and jotted down brief descriptions. Then we settled in to do about 45 minutes of general observations of the people who passed through and used those spaces, noting what they did, how they used the space, etc. I've got two pages of notes I typed up, which I won't bore you with (but if you really want to see them, drop me a line and I'll send them along. Oops, I spoke too soon. Agreements between CLIR and host institutions don't allow us to share observational notes, even if taken in public areas, so you can't be bored by my notes even if you wanted to. ;P Thanks to Nancy for correcting me on this.).

We returned from our field trip, and reported what we had observed to the group. Nancy listened to our reports, and then analyzed them for common threads. She pointed out generalities that we had mentioned that have proven to be constants in student/faculty observations (and ethnographic observation in general). She helped us understand the process a bit and used our initial experiences as a way to prep us for our real interviews on day 2, when we'll actually be interviewing and observing a faculty member.

Nancy then gave us an overview of how she has successfully run faculty interview/observations in the past. She showed us some slides with examples from previous studies she had run (some of which you can find referenced in her publications, where IRB restrictions allow). We then headed out to the office of Professor S (I forgot to get permission to reference Prof S, so mystery abounds ;) , who turned out to be an incredibly relaxed, friendly interview candidate, even though we were too many people (13) in too small an office (8' by 7'). Nancy ran the interview, while we all observed and took turns practicing with the camcorders we'd be using during our own interview sessions. I was genuinely surprised to see how closely his own research methods mirrored my own- he would print out articles (here we differed, I am a mix of saving to my computer and printing, depending on where I think I'll be working/reading, and he said he never saved articles to his computer, just printed) but from here on we turned out to be eerily similar. He would read through articles quickly, then if the where meritorious, read through them again thoroughly/slowly, and either make notes in the margins, or on separate paper (here, slightly different, I highlight/mark printouts a little, but mostly copy/paste and directly annotate into a text document while reading). What was very interesting was the similarity in how we made notes. We both start by making an "annotated bibliography plus," where we have a mix of direct quotations of import (marked in both cases by double quotes - I mark page references, I didn't get to ask if he did as well), paraphrases (marked by [ ] in his case, and simple unadorned text block in mine) and our own commentary (in italics in his method, in [ ] in mine). Then, once we've completed our initial pass of all the literature, we both begin arranging quotes, paraphrases, and commentary thematically in a separate document, in a way that addresses our particular research topic. This then serves as the point from which we begin organizing materials into our own narrative (or in my case outline-like-thingy, again, we didn't have enough time for me to ask if he went straight to writing, or also used an outline). And here I thought my approach to lit review and analysis was just that- mine. Silly me- there nothing new under the sun.

We finished the official work part of our day by meeting back in Gelman Library, where we talked about the practice interview Nancy had run, and had the chance to ask her about her approach, and address any concerns we still had about running our own interviews/observations. A little after five we broke for a bit, then most of us met to have a dinner (provided by CLIR, thanks!) at the Peacock Grand Café.

Day 2

Nancy started the day off over a light breakfast, giving us all a chance to ask any questions in preparation for our faculty interviews, as well as let us voice any concerns we had about the interview protocol or the roles we would play in the interview. We headed out around 10 to meet with our faculty interview subjects. The faculty had all been contacted by Alice Bishop (of CLIR) and agreed to be interviewed, but had purposefully not been given many details on what exactly we would be interviewing them about (in the hopes that they wouldn't alter their normal habits/practices to give us the "right" answers ;) . I was lucky enough to have Elizabeth Edwards and Kathy Magareell on my interview team.

Our faculty interviewee, Professor Z (I forgot to ask her permission to blog about her, so more mystery) was really a delight. She was incredibly laid back and open, eager to tell us all about her position, research interests, and everything that was going on with her department. She was so open, and had so much she wanted to talk about, that we found it difficult to keep the interview on track (something that Nancy had warned us may happen during our first few interviews). After 30 minutes (our technically allotted time) we were finally getting her back onto our subject matter, by starting to ask increasingly pointed (though hopefully still not leading) questions about her research process, so we decided to press on. Our questions seemed so straightforward and easy to get answers for going in to the interview, especially after watching how masterfully Nancy was able to navigate them with Professor S, that we hadn't anticipated this much difficulty going in. Here where the seven seemingly straightforward questions we were asking (to get at the topic "How do you conduct your own research and use the information you've gathered" especially with reference to library resources and services- but remember we didn't want to lead out subjects directly to telling us they used the library- again, giving us what they might feel was the "right" answer)- btw, I am paraphrasing from the actual questions here, since that is really Nancy's IP;

  1. We did some research about what you do, can you tell us more about some particular aspect you are currently researching?
  2. Do you have anything related to your research with you that you are reading right now? How did you find out about this item? How did you get it?
  3. How do you make notes/keep track of all the materials you are reading? Would you show us some examples? How will this be used/referenced by you later?
  4. Is there currently any information that you need to find for your research or teaching (if not, something topic you've recently researched, and how long ago was it)? Could you show us how you'd go about finding this information?
  5. Are you currently co-authoring anything, or have you ever co-authored anything? How do you handle working together on the same content/document/resource/etc?
  6. Can you give me a brief tour of your office, and maybe tell us a bit about how you use this space?
After taking turns attempting to rephrase the question without being too leading (it took about 25 more minutes) we managed to get some answers for all of our questions (except one). We finally had to wrap up, because we needed to analyze our interview and prepare a ten minute report for the entire group, to be presented shortly.

Over lunch, and for the next few hours, we took turns presenting and analyzing our interviews with the entire workshop group. One commonality that popped up was that we all had difficulties, to one degree or another, getting faculty members to actually show us how they did their research. They would all gladly talk about doing research (and what they researched) but generally in very abstract terms. Three groups had to repeatedly ask variations of some questions to try to gently nudge faculty into showing us their actual processes (and even the group that had an easier time with some process information, and this faculty members process was very clearly defined and involved, initially got a response equivalent to "I don't really have much of a process or method I use to do my research" :) . Nancy assured us that, with practice, we'd become more adroit at keeping the faculty engaged and excited about talking to us, while still getting them to show us as well as telling us about their research process.

Next, Nancy lead us through some exercises to show us how we could extract salient, pertinent, useful information from our interviews, even though or questions had been purposefully unfocused (not mentioning the library, library resources, etc even though that was at the heart of what we wanted to know) and despite the fact that many of us seemed to feel (I know I did) that our interviews hadn't been nearly as successful as Nancy's example interview.

Nancy opened by letting us know that if you are having difficulty getting a subject to show you how they research, rather than talk about it, first try to determine if they are just too uncomfortable to talk about the topic (you don't want to press them if they are uncomfortable and trying to avoid answering). If they seem to be comfortable, you can press/lead a bit on a question. However, rather than saying, "show me a keyword search in the library catalog/database" instead nudge them that direction by starting more simply and general, for instance ask the question "Could/Would you show me your library's home page" to get a simple task completed and get them using the computer. Once they are using the computer, try following this with, "When was the last time you used the library web page" and then "what for" and finally "can you show me?"

Nancy's own observations has shown a dichotomy between the way amateur scholars (undergrads) and established scholars (faculty, with grad students exhibiting a mix of behaviors as they transition) approach a field of research and published information;

Younger scholars, like undergrads, see information as a massive field of items related to a particular topic (published information) that if they have the right tools, and the right search strategies, they'll find items that answer their information needs based on the topic/keywords/content of the items.

Established scholars see information represented as a sea of established scholars in their field that they need to be aware of. They feel they need to make direct contact with them, and follow their work, and only read/be aware of the work of those known experts or works that those experts refer to.

Nancy then walked us through how in a real application of these techniques (with a much longer time frame, generally six months to a year of a few hours of work each week, and generally 20-24 30 minutes interviews) would work. After co-viewing sessions (by all interviews) of all the taped interviews, everyone notes what they've noticed as common elements of the interviews. Often they use post-its that are then collected and organized (sometimes passed around the table for each member to scan in case its triggers a thought or memory for them). It is vital that everyone takes the approach that no idea is wrong, and everyone either positively comment on people's observations, or just remain silent. At this point, no one needs to worry about wacky or contradictory ideas. Once all the ideas out there, and they are being reviewed by the group, the common/best will rise to the top, so no need to worry about the wacky (either fearing to mention it yourself, or being negative about someone else's idea you find wacky).

We didn't have the time to do this (the workshop was only two days, after all) so we proceeded to try some super-fast brainstorming sessions, similar to what Nancy would do, but which a much faster tempo.

First, the group reflected on what we had seen (remember, we hadn't had the time to co-view everyone's interview, just hear brief reports and see an occasional video clip from each group). Then, bearing that in mind, we had to come up with a list of

Things the faculty do very well/are very good at:

  • Publish
  • Find (and remain aware of the work of) societies and organizations related to their research areas
  • Keep up with (what they felt) was the literature in their field
  • Quickly filter large masses of literature down to the ones that where actually relevant to their research
  • Collect information about their field of research
  • Organize information (both with physical and electronic materials)
  • Collaborate with colleagues in their field (as well as within their institution)
  • Very good when it comes to weeding & tossing materials they aren't using/planning on using (unlike, a few people noted, some librarians :)
  • Teaching
  • Working in more than one place (or diff spaces for diff pruposes)
  • Research away from office
  • Maintain clearly defined zones of activity (work office for some things they do, coffee shops for others, home for, often, research/reading)
  • Networking
  • Managing work
  • Keyword searches
Then, Nancy asked us to some up with a list of

Things the faculty have trouble with:

  • Storing & saving materials
  • Digitally organizing things
  • Accessing saved files
  • Finding unknown item (new materials in a field that they don't know the title or author of)
  • Finding things in databases
  • Using library tools
  • Using librarians
  • Thinking beyond their own spheres/disciplines
  • Answering questions directly
  • Finding literature outside their fields
  • Conserving (paper, for the most part)
  • Using technology with confidence (they used it, quite a lot in some cases, but constantly referred to themselves as low-tech or not very tech savvy)
  • Managing citations
  • Reading materials online/onscreen
  • Collaborating
  • Keeping their offices clean
  • Using storage systems for physical items
You may notice, as we did, that the same, or markedly similar, items appear on both lists. Nancy let us know that this is very common (sometimes because different interview subjects have different strengths/weakness, but also because there are certain variations of a particular activity that they may be more or less good at, and these are all very basic generalizations of activity). Finally, Nancy asked us to put ourselves in our respective interview subjects place, and decide if we where them,

What superpower would you want to have that would help you do your research

  • Total awareness of what's going on in my field
  • Know where all the treasures in the field are located (without having to dig around for them)
  • Have an unlimited army of research assistants/the ability to clone helpful people
  • Have access to any paper or electronic file they every written or read instantly
  • All books/papers/web resources automatically re-organize themselves in a way that speaks directly to their own research interests
  • [and I missed a few hear, because we were really trucking along…]
Following this, Nancy explained that after you make these types of generalizations/lists, you go back and look at which of these topics/ideas can be addressed within the constraints/goals of your upcoming projects and tasks. You don't want to even really consider the project(s) you are working on (and probably doing your ethnographic interview for) except in the most general sense when writing up your questions/survey tools. You want to wait until after the interviews, co-viewings, and brainstorming to do this, because we don't want to accidentally shape the outcomes/lists by biasing our questions, our interview protocols, our co-viewing sessions, or our brainstorming. These lists and brainstorming sessions in general allow you to identify areas you want to support, when they fall in your areas, as well as identify areas you could (or should) collaborate with others (units, people, etc) when the goal you've identified falls outside your own area.

Nancy then talked to us about common themes she saw from our presentations and brainstorming. These where: knowing everyone's work in your field, the need to read lots of abstracts (as opposed to full text),the need to track/follow citations, the need to judge the credibility of sources, and the need to work away from the traditional office.
Once you establish a list of commonalities, you then need to see if there is something you can pursue to build/provide, but before you choose one to pursue, you need to:

  1. Go back to the data and make sure the transcripts/data actually support those ideas/commonalities. If you have 24 transcripts and a team of 6, everyone carefully combs through 4 interviews and looks for support (or contradiction) of each point.
  2. You must consider if the ideas are actually feasible/accomplishable/affordable/timely. If it's too expensive, or will take too long, you'll need to toss that idea out. Only pursue what is feasible.
  3. Are the things you've identified as worth doing affordable, doable, and, finally, are they unique? If what you've identified as a worthwhile project/product/service is already available in another format (or from some other unit or vendor even), even if it that alternative isn’t quite exactly/perfectly what you envisioned for your project, it might not be worth pursuing. For example, let's say you think "I'd like to provide a way for people to share videos and tag them with keywords." Later you find out that YouTube does _most_ of what your envisioning, but won't quite perfectly accomplish your need. Even if you go forward and make your more perfect tool/service, that other approach/service (YouTube in our example) is already so prevalent and entrenched that it's unlikely your tool will gain any use (and almost certainly won't supplant it).
  4. Address the "Smile/Ugh!" factor. Ask yourself if the people you will need to leverage to achieve your goal, like your programmers, going to smile when you tell them about it or are they going sigh or release some guttural noise of contempt (Ugh!) and hate every second of time they spend working on your project.
Once your ideas have passed gotten through to this point, you need to move beyond ethnographic interviews and analysis, and start prototyping your new service/product, including iterative cycles of usability testing (like heuristic testing) and prototype refinement (often using advanced software that tracks mouse/keyboard use, etc.). Information gathering, using tools like ethnographic interviews, is a necessary and important beginning for your projects, but doesn't in and of itself produce any direct results. Instead, it informs all your future decisions.
You often want someone with experience doing this type of ethnographic research to help you with your project. You'll likely want to recruit someone (like an anthropologist or sociologist, occasionally a market analyst will work) who has experience making and executing these types of instruments to help you establish your initial question set and interview protocols. Often a very experienced person can come in and only very marginally alter your wording, question order, etc. to make sure that you aren’t inadvertently introducing leading questions and biasing the outcome.

Finally, we wrapped the workshop up by filling out a "Project Planning Worksheet" where we tried to identify ongoing or possible future projects that we could applied what we've learned at this workshop. We then shared our ideas with the group.

I have far more notes than even this excessive post represents, and I'd be happy to share them with anyone who's interested. Also, if I've made any mistakes in this overview, please let me know and I'll correct them. It was an incredibly busy two days, and I didn't have time until today to finally try to wrap all my scattered notes into a single review. The workshop was very informative (far more than most presentations, workshops, and conferences I've attended). It was well paced, and I was fortunate enough to take part in it with an amazing group of librarians and IT professionals who made it incredibly fun.

CLIR Workshop on Faculty Research Behavior Participants:

Workshop Leader: Nancy Foster

CLIR Workshop Coordinator: Alice Bishop

Workshop participants: Elizabeth Edwards & David Bietila (George Washington University), Jill Hollingsworth & Molly Sorice (Georgetown University), Carrie Forbes & Greg Colati (University of Denver), JoAnn Jacoby & Robert Slater (University of Illinois), Kathy Magarrell & Jodi Scholl (University of Iowa), Amanda Hornby & Jennifer Ward (University of Washington)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

2 Day Universal Design Course on May 21st and May 22nd

Just in case you aren't on any of the lists Jon posted this to, I wanted to pass this along. I've taken this class, and it is informative _and_ fun! :) There is a good deal of discussion on using CSS on day 2, so it might help to do some background reading on CSS to start with, but it definitely isn't necessary to come away with a greater understanding of how important accessible design is, and how to go about achieving it. W3schools has a short, decent intro to CSS:

and the w3 has a nice site that has some more coding examples to illustrate what they are describing

of course, I've always been a fan of the O'Reilly books for web technologies- not exactly light reading, but it will definitely get you fully up to speed (a Safari e-book):

Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition

2 Day Universal Design Course on May 21st and May 22nd

Learn how to design universally accessible web resources to comply with the new Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act [1] for people with disabilities. This is a hands on workshop and participants will build an accessible web pages using web standards techniques.

Date: May 21st & 22nd, 2008

Location: ICS Oregon Computing Lab (Tentative)

Instructor: Jon Gunderson, Ph.D.

Cost: $249 for employees of the University (discounted from $349)

More information and registration at:

[1] Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act

Jon Gunderson, Ph.D.

Coordinator Information Technology Accessibility
Disability Resources and Educational Services
Rehabilitation Education Center
Room 86
1207 S. Oak Street|
Champaign, Illinois 61821
Voice: (217) 244-5870

Monday, April 21, 2008

New and improved, with 100% more caffeine

So, I - The _Overly_ Caffeinated Librarian (recently updated ;) apparently did a blogging no-no when I hurriedly set up this temporary blogger blog (temporary, because I've just been waiting to move to a university run blog platform, since this is a work-related blog) - I didn't check to see if anyone else had registered, trademarked, or in any other way planted a flag on the phrase "Caffeinated Librarian". I did make sure that the domain name bit caflib was fairly unique - and I choose to use caflib instead of the spelled-out, and hard to key in, caffeinatedlibrarian, because I knew that would make it easier for my co-workers to jot down and find. There is one site using caflib as an actual domain, a company that sells a chicory-coffee mix (maybe something one of the other caffeinated librarians could comment on, because I've never been brave enough to try adulterating my coffee with chicory- it sounds a little -ew- to me), but I figured we could co-exist in peace ;) . I've recently had it pointed out to me that there are at least two other bloggers that have already laid claim to variations of the blog title " Caffeinated Librarian"; "Coffee|Code : Dan Scott, Caffeinated Librarian Geek" (posting since April 2005), and "The Caffeinated Librarian" (posting since Oct 2005) first at live and then on blogger. Mea culpa. I've gone ahead and updated my own blog title to "The Overly Caffeinated Librarian" to facilitate disambiguation. I'm sure there are actually thousands of caffeinated librarians out there (of both the regular and overly-caffed varieties) and it's inevitable that someone else will come along later and use yet another variation of this phrase- coffee and librarianship seem to go hand in hand. Of course, this is not actually an unusual occurrence on the web in general. Try this search for "Megan's blog"- now, find the unique Megan's blog you where theoretically looking for. I'll wait… done? No easy task, is it? I've never told people to look for me online as any variation of "The Caffeinated Librarian"- I always tell them to search for "Robert Slater" (with some extra word like librarian or UIUC) to find my web presence. I never really expected anyone to stumble across my blog accidentally; I don't really think I have that kind of a blog, nor am I an interesting enough person or blogger to attract any fans. I latched on to the phrase "caffeinated librarian" because it aptly described me to those people I was in direct contact/communication with- they knew I'd never be seen without my trusty mug of coffee (at one time, referred to as my coffee barrel).

I do want to take a moment to talk about anonymity and the web- when people mask their actual identities- whether for good reasons or not- it makes it very difficult to locate them. It's also very difficult to establish a base-line level of credibility for any information you find on anonymously posted documents (no news to any info lit librarians out there, I'm sure- I've taught how difficult it is to evaluate web sites as information sources myself occasionally). I'd encourage all bloggers out there who want their information cited/referenced and easily locatable to link your actual identity to your blogs (like Dan Scott and I both did)- it makes it easier for everyone to figure out who we individually are, as well as making your posts discussing the intelligence of fellow librarians more credible and, generally, more civil. Remember, bloggers are people too (despite what some professional journalists may say to the contrary ;) . Just like you, they are blogging for fun, not profit, so we should try to set a friendly tone. Now, since the first Caffeinated Librarian's blog is just a really fun place to chat about recreational activities, there's no real reason for her (I think, without id verification I can't be sure it's her, and not him ;) to post her actual identity, but I've always been straightforward about stating who I am up front- so at the very least, it would be difficult for someone to mistake us for each other.

I hope that this change to my blog title is enough to placate "_The_ Caffeinated Librarian," and that this is the start of a beautiful, very (virtually) caffeinated friendship. :) Oh, and thanks for being the first real human commenter on my blog (until now I've only attracted the attention of some bots…). Okay, enough off topic posting, back to working my lit review of e-book research. Oh, and don't forget to sign up for openCMS training!

Monday, April 14, 2008

CMS Training Sessions

Hopefully, your Division Chairs and/or Divisional CMS Liaisons have been talking to you about your upcoming CMS training sessions. Right now, we've already hosted a few sessions, with more slated on our CMS training schedule.If you'd like to get a jump on using the CMS and you division hasn't scheduled training yet (or you just can make your divisional training session), feel free to come to any of our listed CMS training sessions, as long as you email me in advance so I can make sure we don't run out of room. :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Big Changes, April 22nd, to Webtools

If you use the ToolBox provided the University's Office of Web Services ( you hopefully already know that major changes and improvements are being undertaken. I just got back from today's unveiling of these changes, to be rolled out to the public on April 22. For 90% or more of instances where items from the ToolBox have been used, no changes/updates are needed by you to keep them working (and in those instances where their are problems, these should be more related to the presentation of the ToolBox tools, not their actual functionality). If you didn't have a chance to attend and think these changes might impact your own web pages, contact me and we can go over the notes I took at today's presentation. Even if you aren't using toolbox features, or know you are using them "correctly" it's worth logging in to the toolbox and touring some of the new features that are being rolled out under the new "Page Components" category/approach.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Of domains and filenames…

Quick and dirty overview:

When you make a link to a page on our library web site, use the full domain name:


When linking to an index (or default) file within a folder (often index.html) and you omit the index/deafult file name to shorten the URL, make sure to terminate the URL with a trailing slash.


Okay, a bit more for those interested (or looking to while away a Friday afternoon):

I just wanted to make a quick post about URLs for library web pages (I am deep into finishing up our ARL Spec Survey right now, so I'll make a longer regular update this weekend). There are a myriad of external policy influences that play into this, as well as internal systems issues at play (which I will detail in an upcoming best practices documentation in the CMS and off my WTCC web site) but what it boils down to is this: when you are preparing communications that include links to the library, keep two things in mind. First, the proper domain name to use is (currently, you never know when we may have an external policy decision that changes this):

Although library ISD has done their best to catch all variations of this, like the most common one, (and trust me, there are many more variations, and I'm not going to list them, mostly because I don't want the mere mention of them to accidentally perpetuate their use) we all should really use from now on. Although in some (maybe even most) cases a variation of this domain will work, to ensure that it will 100% of the time, regardless of if your content is on the the old web server or the new CMS, use the full domain, .

A related issue arises when we publicize truncated URLs when people are linking to the index.html page within a directory. For instance, let say we have a top level folder called "myfiles" and an index.html page within that folder. The proper URL to publicize in that case is:

Again, ISD has implemented several helper applications on our various web servers to push variations of this (like ) to the correct file, but not all of the systems we use will catch this 100% of the time (again, look for future best practices documentation for the long-winded and technical explanation of why this is), so please do not use these incorrect approaches in the future just because they _seem_ to have worked in the past.

On a related note, it's a good practice to have your web sites/folders/pages posted for testing before distributing documentation that includes URLs, even is this means simply putting up a page stub that you'll complete later.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Web Technologies Survey in your email

The web technologies survey I mentioned has just been sent out on the library faculty list-serv. Just in case you aren't on this list-serv, I am going to include the "survey" here (it's less a survey than a call for free-flowing stream of consciousness feedback, I _promise_ so please don't just chuck it in the delete pile because I've mentioned the dreaded S word... ;) . Feel free to either comment back with our replies, of email them to me, Robert Slater ( ). By the way, there were 2 mistakes in the version I emailed out (corrected below): (1) I'd like to have these returned to me by this Friday, _March_ (not February) 7 if possible. However, if any of you can time travel and get it to me last month (without rending the fabric of space time now or creating any paradoxes...) that would be awesome, and (2) the library blogging software is (and always has been) Movable Type, not WordPress (okay, begin the pillorying).

The Office of Web Technologies and Content Coordination is collecting information about web technologies that are being used around our libraries (which will all be posted on the Web Tech site). A major focus of the survey is on Social Software, which we will use to prepare our answers for the ARL SPEC Survey on Social Software in Libraries, but we also want to cast a broader net than that and provide a comprehensive view of any web technologies beyond the "plain vanilla" variety that you are using (or planning to use) in your libraries. Although we do need specific answers for the ARL survey questions (below), don't hesitate to tell us about any cool web related technologies you are using or projects you are planning. If at all possible, please email your responses to Robert Slater ( by this Friday, March 7. You need not provide information about all the technologies listed below, just the ones you are using or are planning on using. When possible, please let us know when you first started (or plan to start) using the software/service (you need not be exact, the year would be sufficient), if you are no longer using it then when (and why) you stopped, what you are/were using it for and, if possible, the URL of a page using the technology.

Social networking sites (like MySpace or Facebook)

Media sharing sites (like YouTube or Flickr)

Social bookmarking or tagging sites (like and LibraryThing)

Wikis (Wikipedia, Library Success, pbwiki, libGuides, etc)

Blogs (like LiveJournal, Blogger, and our library Movable Type blogs)

RSS (From any service or medium, including blogs, twitter, etc to either gather other sites feeds into your own pages, or to publish your own news, events, podcasts, etc)

Instant messenger services (like AIM, googleTalk, for either connecting with patrons or for interoffice communication)

VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol like voice chat on AIM, Google Talk, Skype)

Virtual Worlds (like Second Life, World of Warcraft, etc)

Web Widgets/Objects/Embeds that can be embedded into your web pages (like MeeboMe or Plugoo for adding chat functionality to your web site, but this can be any type of widget, not just IM widgets)

Thank you very much for your time and assistance!

Friday, February 29, 2008

CMS feedback

Here it is, your chance to heap praise or scorn upon our CMS. This is open for anonymous posts. All I ask is that we please keep this thread civil, and our criticism constructive, and our praise qualified. If you want to tell us "I love the CMS" then let us know a few reasons why. If you want to tell us "The CMS sucks" please elaborate- we can't fix it unless you tell us what's broken. Okay, I'm ready- hit me!

CMS updates, Web Tech survey in the works

It’s been incredibly busy over in the "office" of Web Technology and Content Coordination (main library room 316, so not exactly a sprawling office complex ;) and in library IT/ISD. Camilla has been making significant headway in getting together instructional materials and packets for both mediated and un-mediated training in the CMS. Aaron has been hard at work converting some of the administrative content from our old web server. Camilla and I both have been working on developing CMS templates for some of the more prevalent unit level home page designs (in pure CSS). John and Alex in ISD have been constantly applying custom tweaks to the CMS as I’ve been gathering and funneling your requests for changes to the system (and some significant version upgrades are in the pipes as scheduled updates, see the ISD CMS blog for more information on this). Anna (Scott’s GA who he’s been nice enough to “loan” to the us) has been working her way through all the committee pages, minutes, etc (so if you see Anna and she look bleary-eyed, you’ll know why ;) . I’ve also been gathering information on web technologies in use around campus, which will be posted to the new uiucwebtech wiki (I know it’s plain vanilla right now, I’ll tweak the templates as soon as I get the content in there) and linked from our WTCC home page. In conjunction with this, I’d like to start an open discussion with everyone about our new CMS. To that end, I am going to post (right after this) another thread called CMS feedback (for all you <3s>

You’ll also be getting an email from me soon (hopefully today) asking what cool web tech your library is using, is preparing to use, or has used in the past, so keep an eye out.

By the way, we are still looking for a few students who’d like to help us with the conversion process to the CMS. Pay starts at $10/hour (sorry, this isn’t a GA position), you can email Robert ( if you are interested in finding out more.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

RSS feeds from CMS news module up and running

The news module IT has developed for use within the library CMS is available now. If you take a look at my personal page on UIUC netfiles (Robert Slater's Personal Page), you can see that, as promised, I'm now able to pull in both my blogger feed as well as the UIUC Library IT News Feed, which is running on the CMS. For those of you already using the CMS, we'll be updating the documentation on the news module in general over the next few weeks, since they're are still other exciting enhancements being rolled into this service by IT (as you read this).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Undergraduate Library moving forward with facebook application development

The undergraduate library is moving forward with their initiative to begin developing new UIUC Library Apps for facebook, building on the excellent groundwork laid by David Ward and Lisa Hinchliffe already started, both by taking a leadership role on moving the UIUC library prominently into facebook, and then rolling out our first UIUC Library facebook application for connecting to easy search. David will soon be posting an hourly position for those of you interested in developing facebook applications, and the new developer will work on integrating library information and resource directly in to facebook. What facebook apps might you want to see the library work on?

Google's feed has the same problem...

Turns out google's AJAX feed tool has the same 1 hour(ish) delay on how often it will refresh its cache of your blog(s). The only reasonable solution I've found so far is to locally install a script like feed2js and then tweak the settings for how often the cache is updated. Let me know if anyone has found a tool that will let you pull live from the actual feed source.

Experimenting with AJAX tools to include RSS feeds in web pages...

So far I've experimented with feed2JS and the google AJAX feed API. The downside to using the (hosted) version of feed2js is that all feeds are cached for 1 hour, so your posts won't be immediately available on your web page(s). It _looks_ like google updates quite a lot more frequently, but I am testing that now. More later, off to an 11am meeting about UGL development of facebook applications. Exciting!

Friday, February 8, 2008

So busy I haven't had a chance to post until now...

What has the CL been so busy with that there have been no blog updates? For one, I’ve been learning to use the library’s openCMS system and implementation (including tinyMCE). Then there are meetings (so many meetings ;) to start continue getting in touch with all the disparate librarians, staff, and students who contribute to our wonderful (but massive) library web site(s). I’ve been working on getting both a new web site (just a few pages so far, I know) for the Office of Web Technologies and Content Coordination (and its closely associated groups, the Web Content Working Group and the CMS Divisional Liaisons) as well as a personal page/profile up on netfiles (Robert Slater’s personal page). That’s what been going on in brief. Over the next few weeks, Camilla Fulton and I will be working on beefing up documentation of the CMS, as well as preparing training materials for divisional and unit training sessions for the CMS (stay posted for updates on this, we hope to begin offering sessions within a few weeks). While we are working on that, I’ll also be working with John Weible and Alex Waite to tweak the rules that govern what is allowed content in the CMS to reach the right balance between control, usability, and accessibility on the one hand, and providing those users with a solid understanding of XHTML and CSS to use a subset of CSS to position more complex pages. This means experimenting with the tinyMCE filtering rules to open up some of the most common CSS positioning elements (float, clear, width) on divs so that some of our more advanced users can correctly lay out complex pages using CSS. Following that, John and I are working together to implement an RSS aggregator feature (different from the RSS syndication/News Module they already have developed) that many of the more tech-savvy units have already been asking for. After that, we’ll be tackling the IT Word Press blogs to make a template for it that matches the new site design. Finally (because that’s not enough ;) we’ll be working on making schemas to represent the heavily used Eric Kraft layouts (and descendants), so people can easily use the same look they are used to, but have it done in pure CSS (without having to know anything about the CSS), similar to the work that Barry Bailey is doing with Bill Mischo for the faculty bios/CVs. I’ve identified a promising GSLIS student to hire, Aaron Fleisher, who should be starting next week. If you know of any hard-working students, with a solid understanding of HTML and CSS, have them drop me an email or IM. I could still use one or two more students this semester.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

and just keep running!

So today I managed to get my phone up and running (3-4789 still setting all my various messages). I also managed to network (admin speak for "talk to" ;) with several other key people today, although none of them where official meetings (brief stop bys really). I got to reconnect with Sandy Wolf and Lynn from the LIS library, my office neighbors, and Jo Kibbee, who taught my Reference class when I was in GSLIS. It's great to see everyone again, and I look forward to working with you all. I enjoyed meeting Lisa Hinchliffe (who I know I'll be working with all the time) today, as well as Rob Hildreth and Matt (sorry Matt, didn't catch your last name). Thank you all for being so welcoming and helpful. Sorry if I missed anyone, but it's past five and the building closes soon!
NB: I did have to take a quick break to return the loaner laptop library IT loaned me until I get my permanent one (the battery wouldn't take a charge). BTW, did you all know that any library staff/faculty can check out a laptop for up to two weeks (see: Loanable Equipment at

Hit the ground running...

Yesterday was my first day in my new position as the UIUC Web Technologies and Content Coordinator. It felt like "syllabus days" from when I was an undergrad: a lot of paperwork and overviews (getting accounts set up, etc) but not a lot of real work accomplished. I am still working from a pretty bare office (2 pictures, 1 phone: not hooked up yet). Nevertheless, so far this morning I've been able to get in touch with several of the people who can set me onto some real work and set up this very basic blog and initial entry. I hop to have an in house blog of some kind up more permanently soon, where all the library faculty and staff can get updates on what's going on, as well as have frank, anonymous (where they are so inclined) discussion about it. It probably doesn't help that I'm here, chomping at the bit starting on January 2nd, when there are people taking extended Christmas breaks, at the Rose Bowl, or busy getting ready for ALA. Thanks to all my old friends who have already gone out of their way to drop by, call, or email to say hi! Also, I do miss you guys from Oakland (you know who you are).