DSS Town Hall
On 4th June, 2015, DSS held a Town Hall meeting in the Special Events Room of McKeldin Library; all UMD Library staff were invited to attend. What follows is based on fantastic notes made by Liz Caringola; Heidi Hanson held the meeting evaluation. The meeting began with an introduction by Babak giving the background to this event with the hope that it would be the start of conversations between DSS and other divisions. DSS managers then gave 3 minute ‘elevator speeches’ outlining their work in the division. The Libraries are full of acronyms and DSS is no exception:
SSDR – Software Systems Development & Research
CLAS – Consortial Library Applications Support
DPI – Digital Programs & Initiatives
DCMR – Digital Conversion & Media Reformatting
USS – User and Systems Support
MITH – Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities
Judi summarized ways in which DSS can be contacted. The floor was then opened for questions from the audience.
A recent Library-wide computer migration to make Library staff usernames and passwords comply with campus security policies prompted several questions:
- Using Adobe Acrobat XI Pro software – this was a problem caused by the campus license having expired. To get the problem fixed on your machine, submit a ticket to the Help Desk.
- Could DSS change the amount of time that elapses before we our computers lock themselves? (This is one side effect of the AD migration.) Uche said that we can change the setting to increase the amount of time before the computer locks; this was met with applause. (The change was carried out within 24 hours of the meeting)
- Where did Lync go? Give the Help Desk a call to get your password reset.
What is the best way to initiate contact with DSS if you’re managing a project that will require DSS assistance, and after initial plans are made, how can you get confirmation that action is being taken and within the agreed upon timeframe?
- Babak said that initiating projects within the Libraries in general is not a formalized process, and DSS is no exception. We had hired a DSS project manager in February 2014 to help us manage projects. This position is currently vacant. We do need better project management processes and coordination. The Digitization Initiatives Committee (DIC) is a good example of formalizing project prioritization, initiation, and managing processes. It’s something we’ll continue to work at improving.
- Contact DSS through the Helpdesk using these guidelines on Libi. Please start the conversation with DSS early in your plans.
Is there anyone in DSS who can help our group looking into e-books & mobile access to e-books? Can someone help the committee in their task to make access easier and more seamless?
- Uche said that he needed to learn more about the committee’s requirements in order to figure out who on his team is the right person to help.
- Trevor offered a general observation that projects or committees get formed and then later down the road realize that someone from DSS should be involved.
- Babak said that the sooner DSS knows about a project and can be at the table with you, the better. Often times it’s good to have a technical person at the table just to say what’s possible or not, help you deal with vendors, etc.
What is the best way to orient new employees to what DSS does?
- Babak: orientation for new Libraries employees should include a sheet or a packet that has technical problems information and describes DSS services.
- Nathan: this problem is systematic across the Libraries. People in one division don’t know what people in another division do. A broader conversation might be needed to address this.
- Trevor: the answer to this problem should be Libi, but we all acknowledge Libi isn’t in the best shape to do that presently. The Libi Sub Group has been looking into how to improve Libi so that we can use it for this purpose.
Should questions for units other than USS should go through a tracking system?
- Babak and Uche: feel free to send any DSS-related question to the Help Desk, and it will get routed to the right group or person within DSS.
What can DSS do for Libraries patrons? What level of support is given to patrons versus internal staff? Should we ever refer patrons to DSS? Can we have more information about DSS’ strategy for working with campus partners?
- Uche: USS will work with patrons, but they won’t open up non-Libraries computers.
- Babak: Aside from general services, the Libraries get a lot of visibility, credibility, and profitability if we collaborate with campus partners. They get to know us and will start depending on us for certain tasks. Example of HIPAA compliance. No one else on campus wants to touch it, so why not us? We write also write proposals with partners. By getting involved in collaboration, we might be able to identify software, for example, that is needed but doesn’t exist. Whether we gain financially or contribute to an open effort, it gets our name out there and adds to our brand.
- Trevor described MITH’s perspective. It is part of their strategy to work with patrons and campus partners. It is true that they don’t have an identified service point, but they are happy to hear from people about their ideas or possibilities for working together, and they try to be very responsive with those things, whether it’s by continuing the conversation or directing the person elsewhere. They have to be strategic about what activities they get involved in as a unit, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to talk to people outside the Libraries.
- Robin addressed Kelsey’s questions as they pertain to digitization. Any patron or staff member can request that something from the Libraries holdings be digitized, provided that there is funding to pay for it. Depending on what it is, could be digitized in-house or go out to a vendor. For SCUA materials, these requests can be made through the new Aeon system. If non-UMD affiliated patrons have something from their own personal collection that they need digitized, we’re not doing that right now. DCMR is currently working on developing personal digitization services only for the UMD community, and it’s for a fee. However, Robin is happy to provide vendor information for those non-UMD patrons that are seeking digitization services on non-UMD materials.
A follow-up question for Robin regarding the digitization of Libraries materials on patron request. For requests to digitize out of copyright materials, do you put these materials in Hathi Trust? And do you make sure they aren’t digitized and available online before filling the request?
- Robin: requests to digitize out of copyright materials reach her after it’s clear they are not already available on Hathi Trust or elsewhere. After digitization, these materials are provided to the patron, but they are also uploaded to the Internet Archive. Robin and Nathan (and Jennie Levine Knies before him) are discussing taking all of our digitized material from the Internet Archive and also putting it into Hathi Trust.
Revisiting an earlier conversation on projects and communication. It’s quite an ad hoc process, and while hesitant to add a layer of administrative process, there is a need to formalize project reporting/management.
- Babak said that DSS’ general approach to improving process around the Libraries has been to implement it within DSS first. This allows us to work out the bugs and to try new things on a small scale in case they don’t work out. That’s why the DSS project manager was just for DSS, and why DSS has ownership of the Libraries Basecamp account. If these tools are successful, and other divisions want to use them, then they are implemented on a wider scale. It’s more effective if new tools/processes spread this way instead of forcing people to adopt them, which can be met with resistance. An example of something DSS is currently testing is digital signatures. This will allow people to sign documents digitally and will cut down on printing paper forms. If successful within DSS, it could spread to other divisions as requested.
What roles do DSS play in projects that extend beyond the Libraries?
- Babak described the process of becoming involved in large initiatives, such as Kuali OLE. The Dean of the Libraries is the first person approached. She consults with the associate deans to determine if we want to get involved. If we do, then people from around the Libraries will sit on various committees to contribute to the development of the tool/community. Sometimes we may take part in testing tools, even if we aren’t involved with community leadership. In terms of actual software development, we’re spread pretty thin to complete internal projects, so we try to contribute back to development communities, such as Fedora, when it coincides with internal projects.
Here’s Heidi’s evaluation capture:
Things that went well with this meeting:
- Learned a lot
- Great for DSS folk to hear what is on folks’ minds
- Thank you Will & Uche for help with computer/remote access
- Q&A was the best part
- Elevator talks → add to new Libraries’ hire orientation
- Glad project management was addressed
- Thanks for streaming
Things you’d like to change for next time?
- Throw your questions in a box
- Other Divisions should do this too
- Let people submit questions beforehand
- If this is done again, it would be good to include a brief ppt of each group so that we know what they do.
- Possibly an opportunity for DSS to address some issues that would make our jobs easier e.g. Such as when submitting help-desk tickets to be more descriptive
- Break-out sessions for each group in DSS to answer questions
- Q&A with front line staff