This Week in LIS - 25 July 2008

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

Upcoming Dates

  • 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 Process

This week LIS met for our annual summer planning day. We spent some time reviewing our work from the past year and thinking about the organizational priorities we need to set for the coming academic year. It serves as a good opportunity to get out of our daily grind and think about how the work we each do connects to the bigger pie. While choosing the right things to do is important, we also need to be sure that we do things right, and so we spent a portion of our day looking at process and workflow as a prelude to larger discussions we will have in the coming academic year. Process is critical to execution, quality, and service. Yet few of us think broadly about process, or critique it often enough to be sure the process works and is beneficial to our users and ourselves.

We illustrated this fact clearly with an exercise that saw teams of LIS staff working to create custom artwork at a fictional art franchise. It was clear that process affects everything from service times, to quality, to satisfaction. Teams following a prescribed process (made up by someone who was not actively involved in working the process) had significant difficulty delivery a quality product on time and to the user’s satisfaction. When given an opportunity to collaborate with other process stakeholders to improve the process, and holding the user’s satisfaction as a barometer of success, teams were notably better at their work (with greater productivity and much less friction).

The important ingredients here for us going forward are:

  • Empowered employees who consider the whole process and the impact their slice may have on others (particularly the user).
  • Every process has tremendous amounts of waste and non-value-adding activity. Why should we settle for mediocre and wasteful work processes? And more importantly, why should our users?
  • Priority on continuous process improvement. We don’t have to fix everything in one fell swoop. Iterative and qualitative improvements over time that occur as a regular result of attention to process will keep the right priorities in front of us.
  • An understanding that change isn’t scary unless we specifically let it be. As demonstrated in our exercise, change is in fact very good – the user receives better service, and the employees enjoy more efficient work. We need to make our own future. If we are not pursuing change actively we will only encourage our growing irrelevance in our field.

We will continue our conversations about process in the coming months in a variety of team settings, and we’ll use these ingredients to set our course.

LIS Blog Highlights from the Week

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

LIS Website Changes

  • Design and testing continues on a new skin for the site. This will allow for additional sidebar content (including randomized site imagery).
  • The facility hours page has been updated to include an embedded Google calendar (

Notes from LIS Council

Among the topics discussed at this week’s Council meeting were:

  • ActiveCampus Implementation status and next steps.
  • Planning for Debbie Smith’s upcoming departure.
  • A potential upcoming vendor change for some catalog content.
  • Planning and preparation for the staff planning day.

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.

Complete List of NITLE Opportunities

Notable Internet Resource of the Week: Worldmapper

In the spirit of Nordic Fest, Decorah’s annual celebration of Nordic heritage, this week’s site will remind us we live in a big world that isn’t always as it seems. Worldmapper is a site that offers more than 600 world maps with a twist – each map with graph a statistic of interest and warp the territories based on the statistic. (Yes, you end with some funky looking maps.) Statistics run the gamut including literacy rates, financial data, all shades of demographic data, energy use (and consumption), and many, many more. (Don’t forget Books Borrowed from Public Libraries). PDF posters are available of each map as well as new high-resolution images.

I’m still looking for the lutefisk consumption comparison map …

On the web at

Around the Web

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

  • Mobility
    • None
  • Open Source and Standards
    • None
  • Service and User Experience
    • None