This Week in LIS - 29 April 2011

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

Headline of the Week: Working Smarter and Moving Forward

Perhaps one of the most difficult things that we as a society have to grapple with these days is the rate of change going on around us. Just about everything we do seems to be up for reevaluation and reconsideration as previously-held assumptions no longer hold true. Entire business models and even industries are proving no longer tenable as we go through some fundamental realignments around new innovations and the power of the network.

For the past year, Luther has had an initiative to consider how we as an institution should be responding and adapting to this changing environment, led by the Task Group 150 (or TG150). This group of faculty, staff, and a student have spent much time examining the assumptions and mechanics of how Luther has operated and asked questions about how it should be operating in the future.

As part of that process, each area of the College has been asked to have conversations about how they can improve efficiency by considering initiatives that need to be enhanced, revised, scaled back, or maintained. At the core, this seeks to challenge assumptions that how we have always done something is how we should be doing it now.

Within LIS, we have been trying to ask these sorts of questions for a while now. The ever-expanding universe of technology forces us to ask difficult questions about what directions we will go and what we can support for the community. The rate of change is certainly increasing, and this sort of analysis should now be the new normal.

So what sorts of efficiencies, improvements, and adjustments are we looking at as part of the TG150 initiative?

  1. Continuing to leverage open source or non-vended solutions for software and hardware. While on the one hand looking to purchase products off-the-shelf is an easy road to take, it often can carry a premium price tag. We are continuing to look strongly at software we currently license at significant cost for alternatives that may be more cost-effective. Luther has a strong history with this that we plan to continue and grow.
  2. Considering the changing landscape for workstations. In some cases, the rate of change in hardware specifications and capabilities is slowing allowing us to consider more completely how often technology is refreshed. We are also increasingly seeing divergence in needs for hardware. One size no longer fits all as some individuals and disciplines require more capabilities than others. We see a future draw-down in the number of dedicated lab workstations on campus, and an uptake on mobile and tablet devices. This is a complex picture with many moving parts, but in the end our workstation inventory will likely look much different in five years than it does today.
  3. Consolidating some software systems. Whether it be for call tracking, scheduling, searching, or virus checking, we are looking closely at systems that may in part or in whole duplicate services on campus. In some places, it may make sense for us to consolidate these services, which while it will likely save us money, it will also likely have the side effect of making a more streamlined experience for users.
  4. Examining opportunities for increasing revenue. LIS has content, skills, and services that carry value beyond our campus. We continue to think about ways we could maximize some of our infrastructure and skill in a broader marketplace.
  5. Enhancing our digital toolkit. LIS sees a strong need for workflow digitization, improved electronic communications tracking, and management of digital assets on our campus. There can be little disagreement that the future of knowledge work is digitally based, and Luther needs to move proactively into a digital workflows that will significantly improve productivity, capability, and effectiveness for everyone.

LIS will be working with the TG150 group in the coming weeks to discuss and review specific initiatives in these categories and we look forward to challenging both ourselves and the campus more broadly to cast aside assumptions about how we do our work to consider new ideas and methods that will advance both opportunity and capability at Luther.

LIS Blog Highlights from the Week

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

LIS Ideas

This past spring, LIS launched a community website to gather ideas for how we can improve existing service, help prioritize proposed new services, and figure out what other services can be retired. Since that time, LIS staff, as well as Luther faculty, staff and students have visited to add their votes and ideas.

Idea of the Week – What do you think about …

Educate users on the portability of PDF – A common point of contention and frustration among students and faculty alike is the incompatibility between versions of software or platforms, or inconsistency of file appearance between software/version/platform. This frustration also can create distrust of users who’s file does not appear right, or distrust of the technology or those who manage because of the inconsistency. Expanded knowledge of the PDF format can alleviate many of these problems.

A prime example is of the Mac users who emails their paper to them-self to then print in a Lab. But then they find that the Windows Office displays improper formatting. In certain situations the can even result in some content not displaying.

Another example is when assignments are submitted digitally to faculty. Some faculty are on Macs, so Office files from the PC Labs might not display right, or users may have used a format that cannot be opened at all. PDFs as a submission format can also fix this.

These problems work both directions, and extend beyond Office files. However PDF files offer an easy solution to end this frustration and lessen trust issues.

PDF viewers are available on all major platforms. PDF allows for consistent appearance of documents on screen and in print. Moreover, ALL Mac [OS X] users already have the functionality to send any printable document to a PDF. Similarly Windows users can freely and easily acquire lightweight software that provides that functionality. … what do you think?

Notes from LIS Council

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

  • New Items
    • Annual Report
      • We will have the framework for our annual report up later this week. The draft will be due before our summer planning day.
    • LISAAC
      • This group met. Good discussions were had regarding iPad use, and considering bringing a speaker recommended by one faculty member to campus to help in advancing academic technology.
    • Preus leaky roof
      • The rain has shown us a new leak on the third floor. Facilities has been notified.
    • Division meeting report
      • John reported on the new course evaluation form and thoughts on administration of this tool.
  • Returning Items
    • TG 150
      • Our TG 150 ideas have been shared with LIS. We’ll be submitting those shortly. A prioritized list will be prepared as well for the President.
    • Recruitment
      • We are concluding our full pool assessment soon with identification of campus finalists.
    • Collaboration
      • No updates.
    • KATIE Storage Policy
      • The policy should go on our website and conversations begun with those affected. This can be announced more formally in the fall.

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
Digital Scholarship Seminar: Implications of Data for the 21st-century Humanist Apr 29, 2011 Seminar organizers encourage faculty, instructional technologists, librarians, and others interested in digital scholarship, digital humanities, and related projects to attend this online seminar in institutional teams if possible. (Times EDT)

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
Morsle Redux: KATIE integration with Norse Docs Product Demonstration May 4 2011 – 12:15pm 1:00pm Dahl Centennial Union – Borlaug Open
Feedback Session on LIS Training and Faculty Development Events Faculty Development May 9 2011 – 12:15pm 1:15pm Dahl Centennial Union – Mott Open
Creating a Faculty Website Using Reason Workshop Jun 15 2011 – 9:00am 12:00pm Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
Enhancing Student Learning Through Information Literacy and Technology – Summer 2011 Faculty Workshop Faculty Development Jul 11 2011 – 9:00am Jul 15 2011 – 12:00pm TBA Closed
Creating a Faculty Website Using Reason Workshop Jul 27 2011 – 9:00am 12:00pm Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
Creating a Faculty Website Using Reason Workshop Aug 3 2011 – 9:00am 12:00pm Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open

Quote(s) of the Week

  • “New psychological research out of the University of Buffalo demonstrates how, “When we read, we psychologically become part of the community described in the narrative—be they wizards or vampires. That mechanism satisfies the deeply human, evolutionarily crucial, need for belonging.” Experiments conducted by the research team indicated that after reading books like Harry Potter and Twilight, subjects felt themselves to be more closely associated with the community of characters in the books. “Belonging” to these communities, although they are make-believe, gave subjects feelings of satisfaction associated with having real human relationships.” – How Reading Expands the Sense of Self | IdeaFeed | Big Think)
  • “I think there are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has ended. Today, many things indicate that we are going thorough a transitional period, when it seems that something is on the way out and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were crumbling, decaying, and exhausting itself, while something else, still indistinct, were arising from the rubble.” – The Need for Transcendence in the Postmodern World
  • “Maeda acknowledges that he now understands that social media can only take you so far in redesigning leadership. All those great hopes for leading by blogging, tweeting, and emailing proved inadequate to the gritty business of persuading an actual living, breathing constituency to follow his direction. “Now I talk about ‘when digital doesn’t do it,’ ” he says. He’s frustrated with everything he learned — and taught — at the Media Lab. “I ate the Jell-O, I drank the Kool-Aid. But now I realize that what I thought could work in the digital era doesn’t have the same impact locally as it does globally. People don’t want more messages; they want more interactions. There’s no perfect memo where you can press send and get connected, or Facebook group you can join to be committed.”” – RISD Old Guard Clashes with its Tweeting President | Fast Company

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

Next Issue

The next issue of TWILIS will be published on Friday, May 6, 2011.

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 5, Number 24 (#191)

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