Welcome, ALA Connect and Greater Privacy Options

I’m late announcing it here, but the official pronouncements are popping up everywhere elseALA Connect is finally live! I feel a little like Dr. Frankenstein – it’s aliiiiiive – but so far the patient is doing quite well. Even though we’ve been gamma testing for the past three weeks, we officially launched the site on Monday (April 6) with a virtual bottle of champagne across the virtual bow.

I won’t go into detail about what Connect is in this post because there’s a lot about it here, including a Roadmap for future development. If you’re the explorer type, you can skip this post altogether and go play for yourself – just head over to http://connect.ala.org and log in using your ALA website username and password. If you’re not sure what those are, you can find them here.

We’ve worked very hard to provide members with a more robust level of privacy options than they’ve ever had before on both sides of the scale. If you want to be more open about displaying your ALA information, you can display your entire profile publicly. This isn’t the default, but if you’re the 2.0 type who wants everyone to know about the great work you do for ALA, you can toggle this option in your profile to display those affiliations publicly.

If you’re the kind of person who’s worried about sharing too much online, we’ve got you covered, too. In the current member directory on the ALA website (which will be going away in the near future), you can’t hide any of your affiliations – everything is there for other members to see. However, in Connect, you can actually opt out of displaying all non-committee affiliations on your profile. You can choose on a group-by-group basis to hide your affiliation with a community, division, round table, or section. For what we hope are fairly obvious reasons, you can’t hide your participation on an official committee. For more information and instructions about how to do this, read the FAQ about Privacy in ALA Connect.

So here’s a quick overview of how privacy works in ALA Connect.

  • The public sees only your name.
  • Other ALA members see your name, institutional affiliation, and ALA affiliations.
  • You can add more information about yourself, like a short bio, your interests, your job description, links to your blog/Flickrstream/etc., and more. If you don’t fill these things out, though, no expanded information appears on your profile.
  • You can choose to display your profile (minus your contact information) to the world. Add it to your signature file, put the link on a resume, or link to it from your blog.
  • Other ALA members you manually make part of your network see all of the above plus your contact information.

If none of these options appeal to you, you can log in to the ALA website and exclude yourself from the member directory, which will remove you from ALA Connect altogether. Be aware that this means you won’t be able to log in to Connect at all, although this doesn’t affect any other part of your membership or website access.

The exclusion options are also completely separate from your communication preferences, which control how much snail mail and email you receive from ALA. We’ve again tried to err on the side of conservatism while providing members with options, so by default, you won’t receive email from any of your ALA groups unless you log in to Connect and manually turn on email notices. Even better, you can do this on a group-by-group basis. So if you’re on a committee or other official ALA working group, you can turn on email from that group but not from other ones.

So consider this an important heads-up to read about how to set your email preferences in ALA Connect, too.

Please let us know if you have questions about any of this. We’re very excited about this new service and its future!

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2 Responses to “Welcome, ALA Connect and Greater Privacy Options”

  1. joan Says:

    Jenny, congratulations! I signed up for ALA Connect a few weeks ago, and I will admit I’m still a bit confused. I want to use it, but I can’t really see how right now. I only found a few of the people I looked for, and so far they have not answered their connect requests. Others I thought were ALA members were not in the database (does this mean they are not members?).

    I looked for people and sections and roundtables… and then what? If there is a particularly active area, I’d be interested to know.

    [Reply]

  2. Jenny Says:

    Thanks, Joan!

    One of the problems we’ll encounter with Connect is that we started everyone off with a default preference of no email, so unfortunately the folks you’re friending in the system won’t see that until they log in. You could , however, use the “Send [firstname] a message” link on their profiles to give them a heads up and encourage them to log in.

    If you’re having trouble searching for specific people, try using the most unique part of their name (first name or last name) to see if they come up. Some 4,000+ members have excluded themselves from appearing in the member directory, so they won’t appear in Connect. If you have specific searching questions, though, feel free to contact me at jlevine@ala.org.

    Areas will be as active as we make them, so feel free to start posting content to your groups. Even better if you make it publicly viewable, because then it will appear on the home page. For example, I’m hoping to start a discussion in the Games and Gaming community today or tomorrow. You can join almost any of the 190 communities, and the only way we’ll get people using the site is to have content for them.

    You might also be interested in joining Heads of Public Services Discussion Group (ACRL – Association of College & Research Libraries). Or maybe you want to start a community for expats?

    It will take a while for the site to build, but we’ll take all the help we can get. :)

    Jenny

    [Reply]

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