This Week in LIS - 12 March 2010

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

Headline of the Week: The Unquenchable Thirst: Bandwidth

It is a story of two curves: one rapidly climbing and a second shallowing out, but both showing remarkable change over the last several years and the ride has only begun. Much of the fabric of our now commonplace digital lives is younger than my second-grade daughter. For some perspective, here are the launch dates for a few “well-known” cloud-based data services:

  • MySpace: August 2003
  • Facebook: February 2004
  • Flickr: February 2004
  • Gmail: April 2004
  • YouTube: February 2005
  • Twitter: March 2006

The infrastructure upon which these services rests is staggering as we consider how rapidly our fiber networks have been deployed. Though that statement is made using a long-term historical lens, for our thirst often drives us to criticize and critique why our networks are not expanding more quickly. The vision of the future is here for many of us: a networked, digitally-connected world that transcends time and place. Anything, anytime, anywhere. Information set free. All of that depends upon one thing: the network.

AT&T knows a little bit about our thirst for bandwidth:

AT&T network growth

A 4,932% increase in just three years. With the upcoming launch of iPad and other data driven portable devices it is not a great surprise that AT&T’s network has had trouble keeping up. Yet our expectations only grow and grow. Our use at Luther falls right in line with AT&T. The blue line on the graph below shows the growth in our available bandwidth to the Internet from 1992 to the present:

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This chart includes a planned capacity increase this spring of 41% as we expand our connectivity to the Iowa Communications Network. While we’re very pleased to bring this additional bandwidth online, the sense of accomplishment evaporates quickly as we watch the new pipe instantly fill with traffic. For the time-being at least, there will never be enough. This is particularly true in Decorah where costs are notably higher for bandwidth given our rural location far from major fiber installations. We know many of our regional peer institutions pay significantly less for bandwidth that we do, even though we have seen costs drop significantly. The second green curve on the chart above shows our costs per Mbps. Without this significant drop, we’d be in some significant trouble. If prices had held flat for the last nine years, and we were paying the same rate we paid then today, our annual bandwidth costs at Luther would now be $933,984. Ouch. The upcoming challenge we will face is the shallowing out of this cost line in juxtaposition to the sharply increase capacity line. We are now quickly reaching the point where keeping up with the capacity needs will require additional investment and budget support as we will no longer be able to rely solely on dropping prices to finance additional expansion.

But we’ll save those worries for another day, and revel in our forthcoming 41% increase in the next several week. I’m sure we’ll use it and use it well.

LIS Blog Highlights from the Week

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

Notes from LIS Council

LIS Council is the leadership team within LIS. Among the topics discussed this past week were:

  • Summer student employees and where they will be working for the summer
  • An upcoming meeting to discuss student employment policies generally across LIS
  • Work on finalizing our procedures for exiting community members
  • An update on planning for the Decorah Metronet fiber project including work on a grant proposal that is underway
  • Office spaces given work in the library and shifts in staff in Main
  • The LIS Ideas website (

LIS Team Report: Library

Spring semester finds the library bustling with activity. Here are a few items of interest:

  • The entire first year class has visited the library for research instruction as part of their Paideia I research paper assignment. Each librarian met with 5 or 6 Paideia sections to present modules on how to discover relevant books, articles and primary sources.
  • Librarians have made presentations to groups of Senior paper/project students from several departments as well as to other classes from a variety of departments. Since the beginning of the semester the department has offered library instruction to fifteen classes (not counting Paideia), which has helped us to reach 70% of our goal.
  • Collaborative spaces on the main floor of the library have been enhanced with the addition of two large computer monitors and two new white-board tables for group use.
  • The search for a new Director of Research and Instructional Services has begun.
  • Librarians are continuing their meetings with department heads to discover how the different departments approach their senior paper/projects.
  • The library has recently begun circulating Amazon Kindle 2 e-readers to faculty and staff for 2 week loan periods. One additional Kindle is available for 2 hour checkout to all library patrons.
  • Several new online resources have been added including the Credo Reference collection and Cambridge Histories Online.
  • New offices have been completed in one area of the main floor and more are under construction in the former home of the technology help desk.
  • The final Response Report concerning the LIST Department Review of 2008-2009 was submitted to Dean Craft.
  • Three new art works have been accessioned into the Fine Arts Collection in 2010; correspondence with prospective donors indicates that two donations are expected in the near future.
  • The Library Professional Staff, led by Andi Beckendorf, has been having regular weekly discussions towards a goal of developing a new plan for information literacy efforts at the College.
  • We have completed our implementation of the Odyssey interlibrary loan software and have recently begun sending articles in addition to receiving them.

LIS Team Report: Application Development

Below are some brief updates on projects percolating in Application Development:

  • An operational data store (or “ODS”) is a database designed to integrate data from multiple sources to make analysis and reporting easier. Our programmers have developed a data storage or warehouse for Datatel Colleague data and created nearly 25 ODS data views for the LIS, Alumni and Development, Admissions, and Registrar’s offices. Users can quickly select and report on this information using Microsoft Excel.
  • Transitioning our campus website to Reason, our new content management system, is moving steadily. To date, 92 persons have attended training and setup as to contribute fresh content, 41 sites are live, and 50 are in progress, and a number of pages include e-c ommerce to accept payments. The timeline ratified by the cabinet is to have all department content moved by this June. The Reason project steering team and campus marketing group are working with designers on a new look for top and second level pages of the Luther home page.
  • A group with members from Alumni, Development, Registrar, Financial Aid, Admissions, and Library have been researching and participating in product demonstrations of document imaging solutions to create a project cost estimate and implementation proposal. Document imaging integrated with our current information systems has the potential to improve access to information and create efficiencies across departments as well as reduce paper and physical storage.
  • We are experimenting with using Google calendar for scheduling conference rooms on campus, for scheduling campus fleet vehicles, and to post information from Datatel course information for class schedules.
  • Google groups has capabilities for listservs like the Core team and Datatel User Group (DUG) lists and we plan to move those communication tools to Google.
  • This year 866 student workers and their supervisors are setup to use Web Time Entry on my.luther instead of time-cards to record hours worked for payroll processing.

MISO Moment: Interest in Learning More About Word Processing

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In order to assess information service at Luther, Library and Information Services participates in the Merged Information Services Organization Survey administered by Bryn Mawr College. Luther has administered the survey twice in 2007 and 2009 to all faculty, staff, and a random sample of students.

Each week, we profile a datapoint from the survey that illustrates how the Luther community currently uses LIS services.

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.

Upcoming NITLE events:

Event Date Description
Instructional Technology Leaders Conference Mar 24, 2010 For leaders in instructional technology and academic computing with responsibility for integrating technology into the curriculum.
NITLE Summit Mar 25, 2010
Teaching the Digital Humanities Mar 31, 2010 For faculty, instructional technologists, and others interested in integrating digital humanities projects into the undergraduate curriculum.
Digital Teaching: Introduction to Teaching with Technology in Liberal Education Apr 9, 2010 For those from
How We Team Up: Instructional Technologists & Librarians, Partners in Academic Support Apr 9, 2010 Instructional technologist-librarian partners from Ursinus College and Trinity University share how they work together to achieve common curricular goals and what academic support professionals and the faculty and students they support gain as a result of collaboration.
Augmented Reality’s First Educational Applications Apr 12, 2010 For those who wish to explore augmented reality, a recently evolving technology for layering digital content over the physical world, and its potential uses on liberal arts campuses.
Online Exam & Assessment Tools in Teaching Language Apr 15, 2010 For faculty and academic support staff involved in the teaching of languages.
Multimedia Narrative: Communicating with Stories May 12, 2010 For faculty, technologists, and librarians from
Social Software for Education: Collaborative Learning and Research Practices May 26, 2010 For those from

A full list of events (sortable by registration deadline) is available at

Upcoming LIS Training, Instruction, and Professional Development Opportunities

Click on the event below for specific information and for a link to register. More information on training and development events is available.

Course Format Date Location Enrollment
Reason Web Training for non-academic departments Workshop Mar 15 2010 – 2:30pm 4:30pm Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
Music Senior Paper/Project Library Instruction Mar 16 2010 – 11:00am 12:00pm CFA 217 Closed
Music Senior Paper/Project Library Instruction Mar 16 2010 – 2:30pm 3:30pm CFA 217 Closed
Navigating Facebook Privacy Skills Training Mar 16 2010 – 3:00pm 4:00pm Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
Music Senior Paper/Project Library Instruction Mar 16 2010 – 7:00pm 8:00pm CFA 217 Closed
Reason Web Training for non-academic departments Workshop Mar 17 2010 – 2:00pm 4:30pm Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
Reading Group: Health, Sustainability, and Social Justice: An Interfaith Dialogue on Contemporary Ethical Challenges Faculty Development

Repeats every month on the Thursday until Fri Apr 16 2010 .

Mar 18 2010 – 9:40am 10:30am
Dahl Centennial Union – Borlaug Closed
Using iMovie Product Demonstration Mar 18 2010 – 12:30pm 1:30pm Preus Library – Hovde Lounge Open
Reason Web Training for non-academic departments Workshop Mar 25 2010 – 9:00am 11:30am Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
New Faculty Teaching Group Faculty Development Mar 31 2010 – 9:15am 10:15am Dahl Centennial Union – Borlaug Open
Research World Cultures and Ethnic Groups with "eHRAF World Cultures" Database Faculty Development Apr 6 2010 – 2:30pm 3:30pm Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
Teaching Writing: International Students and Writing Expectations Faculty Development Apr 6 2010 – 4:15pm 5:30pm Olin 101 Open
Reason Web Training for academic departments Workshop Apr 7 2010 – 2:00pm 4:30pm Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
Art 266: Printmaking Library Instruction Apr 7 2010 – 2:45pm 4:30pm Open

Internet Resource of the Week: Pro/Con Lists

We’ve all made them at some point … the list of pros and cons to consider when weighing any decision. In our Internet-enabled participatory culture, why not let the crowd help you process through your list? This week’s website will do just that. From their website: allows anyone to create lists that weigh the pros and cons of any topic. connects people to those who may share knowledge and insight on an array of subjects. Whether a list is created to assist in making a life-altering decision or simply just for laughs, a Pro/Con list can be an important tool that helps you make a better, more informed decision. Our patent pending system of weighing pros and cons based on rational and emotional weight allows for an end result that is fair, but not always balanced.

ProConLists hopes to be a powerful tool in helping simplify information, organize arguments and assist in decision-making. The beauty of using is that it can be used for just about anything. You may even be able to find someone in the community who has already created a list similar to the one you are thinking of creating.

The decision is yours. We will help you make one.

There’s a little bit of something for everyone here … from chiming in on Windows vs. Linux, to whether Gomez the dog should stay or go. Anyone can create a list, and start brainstorming. Others can chime in as well and agree or disagree with the pros/cons on the list. Crowdsourcing at its best. Things aren’t looking so good for Gomez though …

On the web at

Quote(s) of the Week:

  • “We tend to think that knowledge, once acquired, is something permanent. Instead, even holding on to it requires constant, careful effort.” — Scott and Scurvy, about the lost decades when the cure for scurvy was lost when a supposedly more scientific explanation appeared to fit the available evidence.

Image of the Week: Books Without Batteries

Links of the Week


The links and media above are selected from material posted to, which gathers links and comment on the worlds of libraries, technology, higher education, culture, intellectual property, copyright, information, ethics, design, professional identity, leadership, and the future. The full content feed is available by Daily Email Digest or “RSS“:

This Week in LIS is published most Fridays by Christopher Barth, Executive Director of Library and Information Services at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

This issue is Volume 4, Number 23 (#150)

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Content is made available under Creative Commons license.