2015-2016 ILS Year (and a half) in Review: July – November
Our many accomplishments this year were clouded by the sudden death of Katie Vale, the Vice President for Information and Library Services and Librarian, in November 2016. Katie had a strong and compelling vision for ILS at Bates. While shocked and saddened by this loss, we made significant strides under her leadership and are committed to honoring Katie’s memory by continuing to plan, develop, implement, and maintain reliable and responsive information resources, services, and programs following the goals she set for us.
Improvements to Campus Wireless
Connectivity is at the heart of all we do. In 2016, we introduced a greatly simplified wireless environment for faculty, staff, students, and guests. At the same time, we introduced the eduroam wireless network so that Bates faculty, staff, and students can connect to the eduroam service around the globe using their Bates College network credentials. In turn, visitors to Bates from participating schools will be able to access the internet here with the credentials provided by their home institutions.
We partnered with Human Resources, Purposeful Work, and BCDC to introduce Lynda as the campus-wide eLearning platform. Lynda offers thousands of video-based courses in software, creative, and business skills designed to help students, faculty, and staff achieve academic, professional, and personal goals. As of December 2016, 502 faculty, staff, and students have accessed 712 unique courses.
We standardized on Zoom, a simple-to-use cloud-based video conference solution, which supports multiple hosts and up to 50 participants all without the need for a desktop client.
Help Desk Services
Following industry best practices, we merged two service points (Help Desk Services and Classroom and Event Technology Services) into a single service desk. We also began planning for a self-service ticketing system and improved FAQs, to be launched in early 2017.
Teaching Learning and Research
High Performance Computing Capability for New Faculty
We worked with a faculty group to design and implement an HPC (High Performance Computing) cluster. Leavitt is a high performance computing cluster (HPCC) named in honor of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, an American astronomer whose discoveries at the turn of the 20th Century helped shape our understanding of our expanding universe. Leavitt has been designed as a community-based resource to support the curricular and scholarly needs of all Bates faculty, students, and staff. The success of this work is leading toward submission an NSF grant to fund a much larger configuration.
Digital Animation Studio in Pettigrew
Carolina Gonzalez joined the AVC department as the first appointment to the humanities faculty whose scholarship and teaching primarily rely on and use digital methods and techniques. To meet Prof. Gonzalez’s needs in animation and advanced cinematography, we converted an existing office space (Pettigrew 110A) into a state-of-the-art Animation Studio and added advanced cinematography equipment to the loaner pool, including a set of 10 filmmaker kits (single backpacks that contain everything the modern filmmaker needs to tell a story). To ensure continuity between what’s taught in the class and what students create in the Animation Studio, ILS also retrofitted a classroom in Olin (321) with an animation workstation identical to what can be found in the Studio.
Reducing Textbook Costs
Responding to student concerns, early in 2016 ILS formed a working group to look into ways of reducing the costs of textbooks for students, including the use of Open Educational Resources. While still a work in progress, one outcome of the group was even more collaboration between the Library and the Campus Store to reduce textbook costs for students: the library now buys one copy of every book from every syllabus to keep on reserve in the library for student use.
ILS worked hard this year to strengthen internal partnerships in order to broaden the possibilities for faculty support. Working together, the staffs of Curricular & Research Computing and Research Services, along with Software Development & Integration made possible workshops/brown bag series, data management plans, and online projects such as Holly Ewing’s Lake Auburn Project, J-P Rabanal’s Economics game experiments, Karen Melvin’s Omeka-based document repository, Palavi Jayawant’s Short Term Programming class, and cloud-based Jupyter notebooks for both Economics and Physics.
Faculty Experts Site
Partnering with the Bates Communications office and the Dean of the Faculty, we built and deployed a site to showcase our faculty. Biographical information, CVs, videos, publications, and areas of expertise are featured to showcase different faculty and allow others, including the press, to find our faculty by their areas of expertise.
Research Services began the transition to assume administrative function of our Digital Commons instance, SCARAB, to better accommodate the storage, description, discovery, and delivery of more of the digital products generated from our faculty and students. Our work included website design; organizational, honors theses submission form, and display changes; creating additional levels of access that address users’ needs for more options; and creating a mechanism and space to accommodate more digital files.
Paperless Course Reserves
We moved to paperless processing of course reserve lists received from Bookstore staff.
We conducted an extensive review of ongoing commitments in light of our third year with a flat collections budget, resulting in approximately $50,000 in cancellations. In the same vein, we continue the collaboration with CBB on collections so that the consortium is not duplicating efforts.
Picture Book Project
We worked with Krista Aronson on a successful IMLS SPARKS! Grant designed to support a collection of fiction and narrative non-fiction K-3 picture books featuring characters of color. Works include collection building, development of a schema to more accurately describe contents, and building a database as a collection tool for the wider library/education community to find these books.
Access Services Staff completed the inventory of the entire collection which was started during Short Term 2015. This means that the entire library collection (600,000+ items) has been through the inventory cycle and each item was in the correct location for that moment in time.
Facility Upgrades and Additions
We continued to work on upgrading and replacing old and out of date network facilities. Over the last 18 months, we rewired and upgraded the networking in Lane, Lindholm, Libbey and Olin. HR and Schaeffer Theater are in progress and will be complete this fiscal year. In addition, ILS made sure the renovated Health Center, the new dorms on Campus Avenue, and the new Boathouse were all IT ready on their various opening days, including wireless networking, conference rooms, and electronic door locks.
Library as Place
ILS strives to maintain the Ladd Library building as a welcoming physical place and a focal point of campus life. Toward this end, we completed a renovation to welcome the Academic Resource Commons to the first floor of Ladd, adding a large, bright, modern space for students to access academic tutoring and writing assistance. The ARC renovations also included a cozy new area for reading periodicals and magazines. We also installed a Faculty New and Noteworthy Display to highlight the latest published works by our faculty, prominently featured near the front door. In addition, we added technology to Room 109 on the first floor to allow for Zoom Video Conferences, Skype Calls, and Webinar viewing, adding to the overall video conferencing capacity on campus.
Garnet Gateway improvements
We rolled out significant improvements throughout the Garnet Gateway in early 2016. A new, responsive menu system was introduced, timesheets for staff were re-worked to provide a better user experience, and a more streamlined method for IT staff to maintain the menus and text was introduced.
Many new software and hardware options were researched, tested, and implemented in the past year. Below are some highlights and the departments with whom we partnered:
- Oracle Budget Tool (Finance)
- Maxient (Student Affairs)
- Accessible Information Management (Student Affairs)
- Online student refund request including administrative interface (Student Financial Services)
- Online Title IX training for incoming students (Title IX)
- The Quad (Campus-Wide)
- Bates Today (Campus-Wide)
- The Catalyst Fund (Advancement)
- Liquid Planner (ILS)
- Block Housing (Student Affairs)
- Banner Document Management for Human Resources (HR)
Security and Risk Reduction Improvements
We continue to work on reducing our risk by building data retention policies and scrubbing data that is no longer needed. This year, we implemented a purge of unnecessary Admission decision data that will be repeated before each class matriculates and a purge of over 560,000 instances of social security numbers.
This year saw the introduction of the Cyber Aware Bobcat program to raise campus awareness of online security and safety issues via regular communications and topical events for faculty, staff, and students.
Other efforts toward security risk included completing encryption on all Bates-issued laptops, purchasing Cyber Indemnity Insurance Coverage, and implementing a single backup solution for all campus computers.
The unusual time frame for this annual report (17 months rather than the usual 12) reflects the unusual nature of the last half of the past year. The ILS staff are to be commended not only for their usual hard work, creativity, and unwavering support for the mission of the college, but also for the strength and resilience with which they met adversity. Our work continues.