Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Take a day to give thanks

Friday, November 21st, 2008

All offices of the American Library Association will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 27 and 28, for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Regular hours (M-F, 8:30-4:30 Central Time for Chicago, and 8:30-4:30 Eastern Time for Washington Office and Choice) will resume on December 1.

Why did they search that, I wonder?

Friday, October 31st, 2008

When the ALA website went live last month, it did so with an added feature: the custom Search Engine Results Page. There are three parts to this, “key matches,” the usual kind of search results, and some ranked results from “big” Google. I had the task of building the initial set of key matches in the final hours before we went live, when most of the pages would be in their intended places. Since then, there have been changes, and some topics really do need key matches. Time for a tune-up.

So, we ran a report of the top 100 queries used on the site. Most are no surprise. Both banned books and banned book (oh, wouldn’t it be nice if there were just one!); library bill of rights and bill of rights; and censorship, copyright, collection development, and standards. But why would over 2,000 people search “google” on the ALA site?

Whatever. There isn’t a single good page to route someone to, so I’ll just fill in the gaps, make some key matches for the pages that seem to elude people, and fill in all the permutations for the Newbery Medal while I’m at it.

The report also provides the top 100 keywords used. 13% of the searches included the word books, but only 5% included library.


New Online Meeting Space Now Available

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

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.

Closed for the Fourth of July

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Just a reminder that ALA is closed Friday, July 4, in honor of Independence Day in the U.S. as it’s such a powerful Martina McBride song and — hmm, what’s that? …Not McBride? …OH, the actual holiday! Oh! Well, that’s different!

Enjoy the Fourth of July, everyone!

ALA will reopen on Monday, July 7.


Closed for Memorial Day

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Just a reminder that ALA is closed today in honor of Memorial Day in the U.S. See you back in the game tomorrow.

ALA Closed for Presidents Day

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Just a reminder that ALA is closed for Presidents Day, but we’ll be back at it on Tuesday, February 19.

Making Your Unit’s Blog More Visible

Monday, January 28th, 2008

This post is more of a reminder that anyone can add missing links to the ALA Read Write Connect wiki, which lists all of our known 2.o-ish sites (blogs, wikis, podcasts, discussion forums, etc.). Basically, this is our attempt to bring together in one place all of the online sites where you can interact with ALA staff and colleagues.

If you know of a site that is missing, please feel free to create an account and add it. It’s free and doesn’t require any approval ahead of time. It’s impossible for us to know all of the unit sites that are out there, so we appreciate your help maintaining this list. The only requirement for inclusion is that the site has to be affiliated with an ALA entity (unit, division, round table, member interest group, etc.).

Posting your unit’s new sites here as they come online will also help George Eberhart track your activities for possible inclusion in our weekly “AL Direct” enewsletter, thereby gaining more visibility for the great work that you’re doing. In addition, you can email George specific links and ask him to include them in ALD (which isn’t always possible, but he does his best). Contact him at geberhart [at] .

Where’s AL Direct?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

American Libraries gets that question a fair amount—about five times a week. And with good reason: All ALA personal members are eligible to receive the newsletter, and yet, obviously, sometimes it doesn’t show up in their inbox.

The short answer to any readers who aren’t getting AL Direct is this: I don’t know—there are a lot of possibile reasons— but send an email to letting us know that you’re not receiving the newsletter and George Eberhart or I will investigate.

For those craving detailed insight into anything that can go wrong in email publishing, read on.

Dirty Dozen

So far, we’ve found 12 reasons that AL Direct isn’t making it to your inbox.

  1. An incorrect email address in iMis. That’s our membership database, from which we generate a new mailing list for AL Direct each week. A typo there will send the newsletter to the wrong place.
  2. IMis doesn’t list you as a personal member. This may be because you genuinely aren’t a member—in which case, we’re flattered, and recommend you join the ALA to gain this and many other benefits of membership—or because your record isn’t showing your membership because it hasn’t been processed yet or some other error in the records.
  3. Your ALA communication preferences block AL Direct. Members can set their communication preferences by logging into the ALA website and clicking the “review their communication preferences” link. Here, you can choose from four levels of communication. AL Direct is considered information from an ALA unit, so the “Just ALA, please” or “Official communications only” don’t include it.
  4. The newsletter is being sent to your address, but it’s being redirected to a spam or junk mail folder, or being otherwised blocked.
  5. The newsletter had a soft bounce, meaning that it reached your mail server successfully but not your specific address.
  6. The newsletter had a hard bounce, meaning the address we’ve got is invalid, due to a bad domain, an unknown user, or a network problem.
  7. Our mailing system is still working on getting the newsletter to you. When it registers a bounced newsletter, our system will continue trying to send the newsletter several more times over the next few days.
  8. You’ve unsubscribed. This can happen inadvertantly with stray clicks. It’s also a hazard of forwarding the newsletter: if the person you forward it to clicks “unsubscribe”, your account will register the unsubscribe.
  9. You’ve had enough previous hard bounces to be removed from our list. If an address bounces the newsletter several weeks in a row, our mailing service will assume that it’s a bad address and stop sending the newsletter there.
  10. You’ve had enough previous soft bounces to be removed from our list. Same as above.
  11. The address has been blacklisted. This is essentially the same as being unsubscribed, the main difference in practice being precisely how it happens rather than its effect.
  12. There’s a problem with the query that generates our mailing list from iMis.

The good news is that any of these problems are usually fairly easy to solve, once diagnosed. So, if you’re not getting the newsletter, let us know (that address again: and we’ll sort it out.

—Greg Landgraf, American Libraries editorial assistant

Welcome and intro from Karen

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Well, I’ve been here a bit longer than Jenny … more than 20 years to be exact, but I’m on my third job at ALA. I spent the first 13-14 years working with two of our divisions. A key learning from that experience is that even ALA veterans still have questions about how things work, what various units and committees actually do, or how to bring to reality a great idea!

In my current role as ALA Librarian and Knowledge Management Specialist, I answer a lot of questions. The most common of these have been collected into the FAQ on the ALA website ( Still more have been accounted for on the ProfessionalTips wiki ( or

But that’s OK .. the best aphorism from a grad school classmate was: The only dumb question is the one that goes unasked.


Welcome from Jenny

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Welcome to a place where a few ALA staff members are going to share with you some of the things we know about ALA, some of the projects we’re working on, and answers to frequently asked questions. Please use the comments to ask questions, give feedback, and engage in a discussion with us.

Personally, I just recently celebrated my first anniversary at ALA in August, and pretty much every month I learn something new about the organization that helps explain why something is the way it is. Not that it’s logical or that this is why it should be that way, but just how it ended up there, and I hope to be able to share these tidbits with you here.

A little bit about me: I spend half my time in the Publishing department, helping to disseminate our content in different ways online, as well as providing advice about new strategies and directions. My biggest project this past year for Pubs was the 2007 TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium.

I spend the other half of my time in the IT department (actually, it’s called “ITTS” at ALA – Information Technology and Telecommunications Services – but I just say “IT” because it’s easier), where I provide support to the rest of organization for things like blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasting, etc. Two of my big upcoming projects for IT are revamping our Online Communities service (which you probably didn”t know existed) and implementing a social network (more on that in future posts).

As a newbie within ALA, I find it just as confusing as members (and non-members) do, so hopefully we can figure some of this out together.