We know that several ALA-affiliated groups need an online space where they can hold meetings or give presentations, so we’re experimenting with OPAL to provide this type of resource. In case you’re not familiar with the Online Programming for All Libraries service (OPAL), you can learn more about it and view the archive to see how other organizations use it.
Basically, though, ALA has four rooms available for groups to use – two 25-seat rooms, one 50-seat room, and one 100-seat room. Because these are virtual spaces, they’re available 24/7. Any ALA unit (divisions, round tables, sections, committees, etc.) or ALA-affiliated group can use a room to hold a meeting (following existing ALA bylaws for meetings), a discussion group, or as a presentation space for up to 100 participants. OPAL rooms provide:
- Text chat (including the ability to save the transcript);
- Voice chat for participants with microphones and speakers (including the ability to record the conversation);
- The ability to display web pages or slides for presentations;
- Co-browsing web pages;
- The ability for participants to ask questions via text chat.
Use of the rooms is completely free for ALA units and affiliated groups to do training or other tasks related to ALA work. Even ALA staff can use it internally for virtual meetings with each other. Plus, the ability to record audio means you can also use it to record a podcast. And yes, this meeting space is also available during conferences.
So how do you use this space? The rooms can only be booked by ALA staff, so you need to contact your staff liaison to reserve space. (ALA staff can find instructions for doing this by searching the KM system for “OPAL.”) We’ll be providing some online documentation for all of this soon but in the meantime, there are also generic instructions for getting started using these rooms on the general OPAL site.