This Week in LIS - 18 July 2008

Weekly news and updates from Luther College Information Technology Services. To receive email updates, please sign up here.

Upcoming Dates

  • July 21 (Monday) Windows Vista Demonstration – 11:00 am
  • July 23 (Wednesday) LIS Summer Staff Day – 9:00 am
  • July 28 (Monday) Norse Apps Demonstration – 11:00 am
  • July 30 (Wednesday) Norse Mail, Chat, and Start Page Workshop – 9:00 am
  • July 30 (Wednesday) Norse Calendar and Docs Workshop – 10:45 am
  • More information on upcoming training opportunities:

Headline of the Week: The Route Less Flown

A few interesting facts from Southwest Airlines’ Seven Secrets for Success:

  • By some estimates, the country’s major carriers (American, United, Delta, Continental, Northwest, and US Airways) have consumed perhaps $100 billion in capital during the past decade.
  • Southwest Airlines has been in the black for 33 consecutive years and has paid dividends for 127 consecutive quarters. They have approximately $3 billion cash on hand.
  • Major network carriers are shrinking passenger capacity by more than 10 percent and grounding hundreds of aircraft starting in the fall.
  • Southwest will add a handful of daily flights. It will take delivery of another dozen aircraft next year and still plans to grow by 2 to 3 percent.
  • The combined market capitalization for the big six airlines is currently about $5.7 billion.
  • Southwest’s market capitalization is currently about $9.7 billion.

Fortunately, we’re not an airline. Clearly air travel is an industry that is in significant distress today. Some reports are even beginning to surface that 2009 may see the large national carriers reentering bankruptcy, perhaps without a means to reemerge. How many bankruptcies does it take to fly a different route (to use an airline metaphor). That is what I find interesting about Southwest Airlines, a company that has taken an admittedly different route to success in a very turbulent industry. They did it by thinking differently and not just running their business the same way that all other airlines do. For a rundown on some of their strategies for success, continue reading Wired’s article.

Will these efforts and this track record of financial success guarantee them a free skate through the current maze of spiking energy prices? Time will tell (it always does). The fact that Southwest is much healthier to weather the current climate is true, and the more they remain true to their DNA of innovative service models, the more likely they will continue to survive even as the entire industry around them goes through tectonic shifts and realignments.

I would argue libraries find themselves in the midst of less sexy, but just as real shift in our business model due to the Internet and the ubiquity of information today. Next week as we meet as an organization to plan for the 2008-09 academic year, we’ll spend some time thinking about innovation – both how we can pursue the right innovations in service to benefit our users, and how we can support innovation internally within LIS. It is a challenging prospect – to do it right means to think independently and to not necessarily follow the “safe” and well-trodden path everyone else goes down. But just how “safe” is the well-trodden path? For the airlines, traditional operating structures clearly have failed, and they are all now scrambling to downsize and retool more along the lines of Southwest’s (now-proven) model of service. This story has played out in industry after industry, and will continue to do so in the future. Organizations have a choice to be flexible and forward-thinking or not. The true challenge is that innovation is not an event, it is a process that never ends (if it is to be successful). It requires constant and continuous review, assessment, questioning, and change. I look forward to our discussions next week as we continue to push forward our own innovative thinking. How can you help us push the envelope?

LIS Summer Staff Day

On Wednesday, July 23rd, LIS will meet together to review accomplishments from the 2007-08 academic year and discuss a number of initiatives for 2008-09. Tentative agenda items for the meeting include discussion of our 2008-09 objectives, time management and scheduling within LIS, our communication plan, and strategies for innovation and improvement of LIS work processes. Lunch will be provided.

Staff are reminded to fill out the form with one thing others will likely not know about you prior to Tuesday.

LIS Blog Highlights from the Week

The following articles are sampled from those available on the LIS Blog:

LIS Website Changes

  • A number of minor tweaks are in place based on user feedback following the launch of the site over the last two weeks. Work is progressing on a revised page design to facilitate some additional functionality. This will be available for trial shortly and hopefully complete by mid-August. Please continue to send feedback and comment on the site and web services.
  • We’re looking at some new ways to handle facility hours using integrated Google calendars.

Notes from LIS Council

LIS Council did not meet this week.

NITLE Opportunities

As a member of NITLE (National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education), Luther has the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of developmental and training programs intended for faculty, librarians, and information technologists. Events listed at the link below are currently open for registration by Luther participants. LIS Staff who are interested in participating in an event should speak with Christopher Barth. Faculty who are interested in participating should speak with Lori Stanley. Participation is contingent upon available funding and program acceptance.

The following are new opportunities and events available for registration:

  • Nominations Due Friday, July 25th:
    • NEW: Online Event: Collaborate with MIV. Program Date & Time: August 4, 2008, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Delivered online via MIV. 1 program unit.
    • NEW: Online Event: Foster MIV. Program Date & Time: August 6, 2008, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Delivered online via MIV. 1 program unit.
  • Nominations Due Friday, August 8th:
    • NEW: Online Event: Foster MIV. Program Date & Time: August 20, 2008, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Delivered online via MIV. 1 program unit.
    • NEW: Online Event: Collaborate with MIV. Program Date & Time: August 21, 2008, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Eastern. Delivered online via MIV. 1 program unit.
  • Nominations Due Friday, August 15th:
    • NEW: Online Event: GIS and Critical Thinking. Program Date & Time: August 26, 2008, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Delivered online via MIV. 1 program unit.
    • NEW: Online Event: Special Topics in Digital Teaching. Program Date & Time: August 27, 2008, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Delivered online via MIV. 1 program unit.
    • NEW: Online Event: Lead and Teach with MIV. Program Date & Time: August 28, 2008, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. Eastern. Delivered online via MIV. 1 program unit.
  • Nominations due Friday, October 24th:
    • NEW: Branding Yourself Online: Identity Management and Social Media. Program Date & Time: November 7, 2008, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Featured Presenters: Gary Ploski (Assistant Director of Academic Computing, Sarah Lawrence College) and Veronica Pejril (Coordinator of the Music Instructional Technology Center, DePauw University). Delivered online via MIV. 1 program unit.

Complete List of NITLE Opportunities

Notable Internet Resource of the Week: Paglo

Paglo is another search engine, or so it would seem, except it indexes something not normally indexed … IT inventory and infrastructure on enterprise networks. It’s crawler will find workstations, servers, network devices, and just about anything else it can on a network and send that data (securely of course) to the Paglo web console allowing IT managers to use a Google-like search interface to perform a wide variety of system management functions such as inventory management, network management, audit software, remote monitoring, and alerting. From their website:

It started with a bold idea — IT search. IT search helps organizations better understand and manage their technology. By capturing everything about your network and devices, Paglo serves as a starting place to answer virtually any security, operations, or networking question before something breaks and you’re running around like your hair’s on fire.

Its power comes from the fact that it breaks down the walls between isolated IT systems by using search algorithms to find the hidden relationships between data from different systems and devices. It will instantly and securely make IT information accessible and actionable.

Paglo is an innovative application of existing search technologies on a different knowledge management problem. While there are certainly technical issues to work out in deployment of a product such as this, any product that can help reduce hair-on-fire incidents seems like a good thing.

On the web at

Around the Web

Here are a few links to interesting developments over the past week:

  • Software and Operating Systems
    • None