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Annual Report 2013-14

During the year ILS continued to improve the quality of Bates educational services and the efficiency and effectiveness of the college’s work. Some changes had been planned for a long time. We completed the renovation of the main and ground floors of Ladd Library, providing an integrated and inviting setting for library, technology, writing and mathematics and statistics services to share the same facilities. Some were unplanned. A major flood in Pettigrew gave ILS and the college the opportunity to renovate the work environment for one of our largest work groups, Systems Development and Integration (SDI), and with generous donor support we built the Digital Media Studios, the professional setting that supports digital media production by students, faculty and staff members.

We also completed a major upgrade of wireless services based on a comprehensive technical survey in 2012-13 and a student survey expertly conducted by student members of the Information Services Advisory committee. The Campus Avenue project has given us the opportunity to take one more step in execution of a comprehensive campus networking plan. We also worked with colleagues in Facility Services to integrate the college’s planning and budgeting tools for capital improvements so that all facilities, including networking, are included in estimates for needed capital improvements.

Bates library staff led the effort to combine the library catalogs of Colby, Bates and Bowdoin (CBB) colleges into a single database, thus saving tens of thousands of dollars per year for each library in software costs, and providing the opportunity to divide certain cataloging processes among the three libraries (reducing staffing costs), while simultaneously improving service to the users. SDI staff worked with Admission and Communications staff to deploy an online admission notification system—a system that is both elegant and secure. We extended paperless student record processing from Admission to the Dean of Students, Financial Aid and Registrar’s offices. We continued our efforts to provide redundant and fault-tolerant computing services by providing real-time failover capacities between the two main computer rooms and conducting a second successful test of our disaster recovery processes.

The core work of the college is learning. Our role is to provide tools, systems and people to help faculty members and students teach and learn together. This year we provided a major upgrade to Lyceum, the Moodle system that supports the work of most courses. We extended the capacity of faculty members to record classroom activities so that they can provide both online reminders of what happened in class and pre-recorded materials to help students prepare for class. Working with the college bookstore, we are taking the old-fashioned step of providing reserve copies of printed textbooks in the library—in part to make sure that readings are available, and in part to give students and their families some help with the rising cost of assigned reading materials. We continue to make improvements in the tools we provide to faculty members and students to save their research data in secure storage with proper backup. We worked with other Maine libraries to assure that the printed materials we currently provide are available well into the future.

New challenges continue to emerge. This year, despite the fact that we continue to deploy more new systems and improvements in existing systems than ever before, the demand for improvements from on-campus clients continues to grow faster than our capacity to deliver. This is a good thing, as the promise of information technology to streamline work, improve efficiency, and to provide the assessment framework for even greater improvement is visible to most college offices. The steady increase in the number of computing systems we support means that an increasing proportion of our time is devoted to applying upgrades, security patches, backup services and support, drawing resources away from implementing new ideas. And as the college focuses on new and sophisticated ways to achieve the Bates promise of engaged liberal arts, the need for advanced informational and technological support in all the disciplines of the college will continue to grow. There will be pressure points as we work with the campus to ensure we are doing the most important work in an era of exciting new possibilities. And all these improvements require investment in infrastructure (cable, routers, switches, fiber, servers, storage and backup technologies) as the campus network reasserts its primacy in a world where users have multiple wireless devices to do their work and want to be connected all the time.

It is a cliché that our greatest asset is our staff. But it is true. In all the disciplines represented in the ILS staff we have been able to attract and retain people that possess the rare combination of technical, professional and people skills that is essential to making a liberal arts college work. We would not be able to do this if we did not also have creative, energetic and demanding colleagues in the faculty and staff of the college, and students with almost unlimited ingenuity and capacity. We believe we are fortunate to work here to serve them.

Respectfully submitted,

Gene Wiemers
Vice President for Information and Library Services
and Librarian of the College
August 2014

 

Teaching, Learning and research

  • Work with writing, math and statistics, library and technology staff to coordinate Ladd Library as integrated learning support environment (hours, room use policies, hours of service, level of service, knowledge of each other’s services)

With strong leadership from Facility Services, we completed the renovation of the main floor and part of the ground floor of the library to integrate writing and mathematics/statistics services into both the visual layout of the library and the service plan. We established a way for the Writing and Speaking Center to share the Mabel Eaton conference room with staff functions and to open it up to students when it is not scheduled.

Continued thesis workshops, orientation programs and other activities that help make students knowledgeable about the array of services that are available to them.

The renovation project also enabled us to develop better physical connections among library staff, enhancing flexibility of staffing and improvement of service.

Moved all DVDs into open shelves to enhance browsing.

Conducted major shifts in the library collections to balance growth space for printed collections throughout the building and continue to enhance user space.

Use of the building is up 4-6 percent over previous years. Use of writing and math/statistics services has increased significantly since they moved into the library.

  • Implement, with CBB Libraries, the merged CBB library catalog. Review all procedures and update all documentation in light of the merged catalog

Completed. Integration of some data feeds with Banner at Bates and administrative systems from Bowdoin and Colby is still underway.

Implemented RDA cataloging.

Coordinated cleanup of records for uniform and consistent results in CBB searches.

Developing procedures to unify data loading and data maintenance operations with the goal of reducing staffing requirements at all three libraries.

  • Implement Summon, a significant new “discovery” tool for student and faculty research

Completed.

  • Work with CBB partners to refine collection development plan, incorporate ebooks into the plan and use the plan to enhance service and reduce unnecessary duplication of collections

Participated in demand-driven acquisitions one-year review and considering options to increase the number of records we receive.

Reviewed publishers and circulation records for shared approval titles across the three colleges to make sure we have the right mix of publishers.

  • Assess use of ebooks

With seven other schools (Brown, California Lutheran, Fredonia, Lesley, Haverford, Stetson, and Trinity), Bates participated in in an ebook acceptance survey. Broadly, the responses suggest that students and faculty are not fond of ebooks conceptually, but are very willing to use them to search text and for convenience when either the reader or the book is not physically in the library.

  • Assess textbook reserve program

Assessed first two years of program to provide copies on reserve of assigned readings sold in the bookstore. Use is high and cost per use is low.

Expanded the program to include high cost “textbooks” in addition to trade book assigned readings. Acceptance was very high and cost per use continues to be low.

  • Implement digital repository project(s)

Began the work of a “digital initiatives” group to bring together IT, Archives and Library staff who deal with digital content, digital projects and digital support work for student and faculty scholarship. The goal is to provide a more unified way to help users find out what is already developed or underway on campus, a coordinated way of identifying the highest impact projects for future development, and to provide better discovery tools for existing projects.

Archives staff assessed possibilities for remote digital preservation services and implemented a contract with Preservica.

Assess “selected works” module for Digital Commons (SCARAB) for access to faculty scholarship and other academic technology information

Still underway. Selected Works may not be the solution.

Provide faculty resume/vitae online in unified way

Working with Dean of Faculty on a database of faculty expertise.

  • Support faculty initiatives related to innovative pedagogy

Organized October Symposium and May Conference on digital scholarship and pedagogy.

ILS staff member assumed co-leadership of Digital and Computational Studies initiative. Others are participating actively in the work.

Inaugurated picTr Brown Bag Series.

Contributed to Short Term Practitioner-Led courses, and Short Term Course Redesign initiative.

  • Ensure successful user migration of Lyceum technology to Moodle 2 by means of scheduled consultations, workshops and one-on-one training sessions

Completed.

  • Evaluate a virtual desktop environment (VDI)  for students and/or lab implementation

Evaluated VDI as proof of concept, and assessed financial implications of a test mode. Decided to wait due to high Microsoft licensing costs for students.

  • Promote and expand use of Etna (online storage of research and classroom data with backup) and other digital research resources developed by IT and library staff. Provide an option for sharing documents with researchers located off campus.

Promotion primarily aimed at science and mathematics faculty underway.

Expansion to social science faculty and others planned for 2014-15.

Identified Internet2 Box as the mechanism for sharing documents with off-campus researchers. Allocated capital funds to get this started.

  • Develop strategies for supporting high volume video projects like the Dance Festival and provide for secure and sustainable data storage

DMS staff worked to refine the storage protocols for student use during the semester using Ensemble.

The Archives is targeting 2014 Dance Festival videos for the first use of Preservica for permanent storage.

  • Develop a more vigorous and effective way to maintain Library/ILS weblog and other communication and outreach channels

Research department made sustained effort to develop content for the library website, the screen displays in the library and elsewhere on campus, and developed a very lively twitter presence.

  • Use the newly remodeled Digital Media Center (DMC) in Pettigrew Hall as a launch pad for re-publicizing the work of the DMC

This was a very successful launch of the new service, now called Digital Media Studios. Use of the facility increased by more than 30 percent over the previous year.

 

Technology for the entire campus

  • Support Campus Connect communications project, phase 3: public calendar (EMS Master Calendar), campus portal (Luminis), new campus directory

New campus directory was implemented. This new service provides office directory information for faculty/staff. A login is required for access to any student information. Students are given the option of providing their cell phone number as contact information for on-campus users.

ILS and BCO (Bates Communication Office) continue to refine the public calendar.

Work on a portal is still under assessment as we look at options and strategies to improve internal communication on campus with our colleagues in BCO.

  • Implement improvements in Garnet Gateway

Improved search capabilities for the course catalog.

Push information from course schedule “grid” directly to Banner.

  • Implement Bates data security curriculum

Completed, with self-service questionnaire and recording of results.

  • Expand use of software to encrypt data-at-rest on college-owned laptops

Implemented in a phased program using Sophos Safeguard starting with high risk laptops and now extending to all laptops. Also initiated use of CrashPlan for backup of Windows and Mac computers.

  • Implement new grants management software

We had some additional work needed to identify a solution that meets both the needs of the campus and financial constraints. A new service is now in implementation phases.

  • Implement changes in Axiom to integrate data in the Common App into Banner

This turned out to be a major project for Bates and for most other higher education institutions as fundamental changes in the Common App were rolled out. We were able to meet internal timelines with Common App data.

  • Develop and implement online admission decision letters and award letters for financial aid

This was a major undertaking for ILS, Admission and BCO to provide a service that is secure, attractive and effective. Ultimately more accurate and timely information on the next Bates class was available, which is of course the true goal.

  • Implement online reader routing for Admission

This project is now in testing in the summer of 2014.

  • Extend online document management capability from Admission to Financial Aid, Registrar, and Dean of Students

Done. This is another step to a long-range goal of using digital student records throughout the college

  • Replace SQL server datamart for Advancement

This service is now in testing.

  • Update Report of Giving for Advancement

Completed.

  • Implement new voice mail system including website

Completed. We are still assessing the use of a voice-activated directory for faculty and staff information.

  • Implement new software to support faculty and staff recruiting and hiring processes

With colleagues in Human Resources and Dean of Faculty’s office, implemented InterFolio.

  • Re-implement Maximo (Facility Services work order system)

The new system is in testing in August 2014.

  • Plan computer room infrastructure upgrade, including adding redundancy for air conditioning and upgraded fire suppression

Planning is completed. Phased implementation in progress for redundancy and fault tolerance.

Replacement of failed AC unit in PBX room is complete. Upgrade of air conditioning and fire suppression in other computer rooms will depend upon future funding.

  • Develop full plans for rewiring Carnegie and Dana networks, a two fiscal-year project to be completed summer 2014. Start planning for Olin network upgrade to follow. Replaces obsolete network wiring installed in 1991.

Dana and Carnegie upgrade is nearing completion as of August 2014. The first phase of Olin work is in process.

  • Build test instance of an offsite hosting environment – move website if possible

Test site is in place with Oxford Networks.

 

Mobile connectivity on and off the campus

  • Continue with planned wireless expansion. Add access points (APs) to the areas of highest need identified in the FY2013 campus wide assessment, including outdoor APs

We worked with students on the Information Services Advisory Committee to identify the areas and services that were of greatest concern. We identified some interoperability issues between our authentication system and the wireless access points, which have been improved, and between the wireless systems and some brands/models of student computers. With student input, we identified the areas of greatest concern in terms of signal saturation (Ladd Library, Pettengill Hall, the athletic buildings), and used capital and operating funds to address the areas of highest need. In the coming year we will continue to work through the priority areas

Created much simplified guest login procedure for campus visitors.

  • Create a uniform student printing environment allowing students to print to a single queue and retrieve jobs from any public lab

Completed Spring 2014.

  • Begin to implement mobile app suite for Banner functions.

We purchased the app suite and are assessing the proper timing for work on this project.

 

Management and partnerships

  • Develop a framework for a self-study of ILS for external review within the next twelve to eighteen months.

We worked with ILS staff, the President, and the Library and Information Services advisory committees to develop a framework for assessment and the critical questions to be addressed. The review is scheduled for September 2014.

  • Develop a student employee recognition program for ILS student employees who are graduating seniors, purchasing in the students’ names a favorite book or other item of their choice and attaching a commemorative bookplate

This program was well-received by the students. We will continue to do this. Some of our student employees go on to successful careers in libraries, archives and computing organizations. We’re proud to help give them a good start.

  • Coordinate moves of ILS staff back to Pettigrew from their temporary locations when the renovation of Pettigrew is complete

Completed. The spaces for Digital Media Studios and for Systems Development and Integration have been completely remodeled, providing attractive and professional work environments.

  • Work with campus planners and facility services on Campus Ave housing and student life project to accomplish both the building technology needs and the needed upgrades to the campus technology infrastructure

The coordination of our work with Facility Services in budgeting, planning and execution continues to increase. We believe that we have better planning, more cost effective work, and ultimately better facilities because of this coordination.

  • Plan, with Facility Services and others, how Bates can complete the needed upgrades to the campus fiber plant within the campus facilities master plan. Many buildings that are not slated for renovation or major maintenance work need new fiber, including Pettigrew, Parker, Page, Olin, Village, 110 Russell, Alumni Gym, Chase Hall, Muskie, Merrill, Cutten, Underhill, Pettengill, Smith, Adams, JB, Hathorn, Lane, Libby, and wood frame houses.

This continues to be an ongoing challenge. We proposed a single project to upgrade the campus network (originally built in 1991-92). We developed a phased approach that takes advantage of every opportunity to upgrade technologies inside buildings or to improve fiber connections to buildings when other projects are developed. The Campus Avenue project is providing a path for IT services to cross Campus Avenue along with new power connections. We will need to complete the rebuilding of the “ring” structure along the south side of Campus Avenue in the coming year.

We reached agreements on retention of printed books and implemented those decisions so that the research collections of the state are preserved for the future.