Week in Review – 24 May 2013

IT Strategic Priorities for USMA

This year, BG Trainor asked that I help coordinate a discussion across the Academy on strategic priorities for technology. The experience has been a good one, gathering together individuals from  organizations like academic departments, ODIA, USMAPS, Admissions, etc. and pushing forward some conversation and thought about how technology currently works and doesn’t work at USMA. The library has a strong interest in technology infrastructure as a core service that many of our value-added services relies upon.

The result of our work this year is a list of priorities that we are putting forward to the Dean and Academy leadership. These are drawn from our own conversations and observations, as well as the input of many from across the Academy who have contributed to the process. The list is somewhat lengthy, but I thought I would share the top five that the group is putting forward as some of the most important and strategic areas we feel the Academy needs to focus on.

The group will continue next year to work with IETD on fleshing these out into tangible initiatives where appropriate.

Promote technologies which enable staff and faculty to perform their essential duties (education, research, etc.) with ease.

Staff and faculty will establish relationships with numerous individuals who are not members of the DA community and who operate with technological freedoms not necessarily granted within a DA network. There will also be situations, such as students on Semester Abroad, where the teaching mission will require tools which are not used in the typical classroom environment. The Academy must provide an infrastructure that facilitates flexible, diverse, reliable, and available client and enterprise services. Client services are technologies employed directly and frequently by individual customers for personal mission accomplishment (collaborative, authoring, distribution, and consumption tools). Enterprise services support institutional business processes that transcend individuals (workflow systems, messaging, database access and storage). Furthermore, the infrastructure must be scalable; i.e. as customer needs for service expand, the infrastructure must be able to accommodate growth without service interruption. Examples of progress toward this goal would be expanded and streamlined support for a range of technological solutions and services to support the educational mission (e.g. access to cloud-based services and a diversity of hardware and software tools).

Improve efforts to “enable” cadets (and faculty/staff) in their use of technology.

Since 1985 when plebes were first issued personal computers, the West Point model for literacy training has been to introduceinspire, and enable. We introduce technology survival skills in early courses: primarily math (spreadsheets and symbolic mathematics) and English (word processing).  We inspire through practice, illustration, and challenges to learn more about advanced capabilities of technology in IT105 (fundamentals of IT, computer programming, and advanced applications). We enable by providing ubiquitous, freely available technologies that are helpful, current, relevant, and appealing in an environment where appropriate technology use is modeled by leaders and valued by the institution. The greatest opportunity for improvement is in the “enable” phase of this model. Where once we led the Army and undergraduate education in this regard, today we lag. Digital literacy is not ubiquitous across the Academy, and we often assume a higher skill level among cadets and faculty than actually exists. Technology consumers become literate only in the technologies that are freely accessible for exploration and use. Cadets need flexible access to tools as they are developed and not years after their introduction into general consumer use.  Access to a variety of client services will provide exposure to these technologies. The ability to use new hardware platforms for daily business will also further this end. A proven good strategy is to explicitly encourage and enable senior faculty to set the example of “early adoption.” The rest of the Military Academy will follow. We should also revisit and ensure that our introduction to technology survival skills is effective and working as we intend. Development of additional, required training that would both address cadet awareness of locally-available resources as well as support for their transition into the Army should be a priority. Training efforts should also be maintained for faculty and staff to promote skills development and integration into the curriculum and administrative workflows. Adoption of classroom management systems that allow instructors to better control and guide technology use would be helpful.

Retain decentralized IT staffing to allow for greater discipline/mission specialization.

Technology is most effective when it is applied directly to the workflows it is designed to support. Decentralization of IT staff is a critical component in ensuring that discipline/mission-specific priorities are designed for and maintained. This is particularly true in a setting as diverse as the academic and administrative functions of USMA. This goal does not require action, but is an affirmation of the support structure in place. Deviation from this model, we believe, will result in a degraded ability to meet mission.

Provide an ever-present and capable data network.

We require access to information and data services that are ubiquitous and reliable. This includes secured access available via wired and wireless connections as well as unsecured access that is open to the general public for basic and limited use. Access to cell networks should also be provided throughout our central infrastructure which would include major academic facilities where coverage provided by external towers is spotty at best, and mostly non-existent. Access to networks for instrumentation and special-use equipment should be designed to maintain security and allow for easy transfer of critical data. Whether or not the circuits provided are procured through government, military, or commercial channels, the capabilities of networks should be varied and should provide a location for legal and mission-appropriate activity to occur. Network security via network access control is an absolute requirement and enforcement of clear, manageable policies regarding information use should be in place. The demand for high performance computing access and access to web-casting and webinars will likely continue to grow with awareness and lack of access to travel and internal budget dollars.  The pipeline for data transfer will need to grow significantly to accommodate this. Intranet data transfer rates of 20-100 Gb/sec and internet transfer rates in the 1-10 Gb/sec ranges should be targets for sustained rates of transfer. Examples of progress toward this goal would include wireless network expansion, the ability to support public users on our wireless networks, cell network expansion in academic facilities, and development of a standardized report that documents use and saturation of data networks.

Develop and maintain a diverse ecosystem of operating systems, platforms, and devices.

We require a central IT infrastructure that can support multiple operating systems and platforms, recognizing that there are many contributing factors that may require specific client systems and infrastructure. Decisions regarding deployment of operating systems and platforms should be made based primarily on mission requirements. Mobile and Bring-Your-Own devices should be supported with appropriate access to network resources permitted by network access control systems. Mobile and tablet devices should be fully supported for mission work in both academic and administrative settings. Virtual systems should be widely available both as central enterprise servers and as client workstations in laboratory settings. Examples of progress toward this goal would be expanded support for non-traditional platforms such as Linux, Unix, Apple (OS X and iOS), Android, tablet devices, cell phones, wearable technology, etc.).

New Library Endowment/Collections Given

This afternoon, we are very pleased that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Dr. Stephen E. Draper and the West Point Association of Graduates that establishes a new endowment to support library initiatives as well named collections for Dr. Draper focusing on water, natural resources, and law and for his wife Ms. Lucy Draper on the history of women at West Point. We plan to receive these collections later this summer and will share more about them at that time. Special thank yous to the AOG and Suzanne Christoff for working with Dr. & Mrs. Draper to bring this gift to fruition.

Budget / Furlough Update

Based on guidance given previously, we should expect initial notices of the impending furlough action to be received in the next week. Division chiefs are working on internal plans for staffing. I am putting forward a revised schedule for building hours for fall term that would have us maintain normal hours with the following major exceptions: Fridays close at 1630 instead of 2100; Saturdays open 0900-1700 instead of 0700-2100; and Sundays open 1500-2245 instead of 1100-2245. This would give us just one shift on Saturdays and Sundays. There are variances to this plan due to home football games. The Dean will need to approve these changes before they are final.

USMA Library Events

The events below will likely affect USMA Library and Jefferson Hall operations in the coming week.

Date USMA O/DEAN USMA Library Jefferson Hall Hours
24 May 2013
Week in Review 0700-1630
25 May 2013
Graduation CLOSED
26 May 2013
27 May 2013
Memorial Day CLOSED
28 May 2013
CLDT Begins 0700-2100
29 May 2013
 Division Heads 0700-2100
30 May 2013
 SHARP Training COL Ryan Retirement 0700-2100
31 May 2013
Week in Review 0700-1630

USMA Library Metrics

USMA Library tracks a number of key statistics to measure service levels. These are their stories …

Access Services
Items Charged Out 803 648 418 257
Gate Count 5,545 6,523 5,889 3,236
Administrative Services
DV Tours 0 0 0 0
Significant Events Hosted 2 4 2 1
Events/Meetings Attended 22 24 30 14
Information Gateway
Reference Questions 48 23 21
Library Instruction Sessions 0 0 0
Cadets Attending Sessions 0 0 0
Materials Processing
Items Added – Books 32 91 130 104
Items Added – Digital 21 117 2,027 726
Items Added – GovDocs 111 180 69 86
Items Added – Other 0 0 23 0
Continuing Resource Check-Ins 93 90 204 74
Special Collections & Archives
Reference Inquiries 40 44 27 35
Research Visits < 1 hour 21 7 2 15
Research Visits < 1 day 2 3 10 5
Research Visits > 1 day 0 0 0 2
Instruction Sessions 1 0 0 0
Cadets Taught 13 0 0 0
Systems Management
Library Home Page Visits 2,290 1,791 969 638
LibGuides Visits 790 500 453 268
Digital Collections Visits 409 344 233 2
Facebook Visits 32 17 18 N/A
Public Printer Prints 0 0 0 21
Public Printer Copies 1 0 1 1
Public Printer Scans 80 47 56 30

USMA Library Radar

Brief status updates on current and planned library initiatives. ★ indicates a 2012-13 objective.

Access Services
★ Communication Channels Beta Blog expanding Assigned 31-Mar-13
★ JH 2nd Floor Review Preparing next steps Active 30-Apr-13
ALSC Metrics Design Programming being done by Army Waiting 01-Feb-13
JH Security System Design Paused 31-May-13
Guide to Event Planning Reworking into digital product Assigned 31-May-13
★ New Employee On-Boarding Next step is review Assigned 31-May-13
Windowshade Repair Haig repair partially complete Waiting 31-May-13
Library Parking Space Awaiting DES Waiting 31-May-13
★ Gift SOP Final language complete Active 31-May-13
★ USMPS On hold Assigned 31-May-13
★ Gift / Needs Statements Planned 31-May-13
ConnectNY Annual Meeting Final planning underway Active 10-Jun-13
★ Mobile Infrastructure Waiting for Airwatch system Waiting 31-Aug-13
Fires of Hate Exhibit Dates selected for Apr-Jun 2014 Planned 15-Jan-14
Information Gateway
★ Evening Skills Clinics Spring slate underway Assigned 31-May-13
★ LibGuide Review Work underway Assigned 31-May-13
★ Embedded Liaisons Department work underway Assigned 31-May-13
IGD GS-09/11 Recruitment Internal announcement posted Waiting 31-May-13
★ Academic Support Statements Statement work underway Assigned 31-Jul-13
Materials Processing
★ Collection Inventory SOP Planned 28-Feb-13
★ Gov Docs Review Assigned 30-Apr-13
Withdrawal Policy Planned 31-May-13
★ CTC Digital Collections On hold pending repository Waiting 31-May-13
MPD GS-11 Recruitment Awaiting CPAC Action Waiting 31-May-13
MPD GS-11 Recruitment Hiring freeze Waiting 31-May-13
Special Collections and Archives
★ Ring Case Biographies Initial planning underway Assigned 31-May-13
★ WP Authors Reception Planning for fall Assigned 31-May-13
★ Fee-For-Service Planned 31-May-13
★ Library History Exhibit Planned 31-May-13
SC&AD GS-06 Recruitment Hiring freeze Assigned 31-May-13
Bartlett Hall Move Re-awaiting funding Assigned 30-Jun-13
Systems Management
★ Discovery Layer Contract let Assigned 01-Mar-13
SMD GS-06 Recruitment Hiring freeze Waiting 01-Mar-13
★ Institutional Repository Planned 30-Apr-13
★ Security System Review Planned 30-Jun-13
★ Public Website Redesign Redesign underway Active 30-Jun-13

Food for Thought

A few quotations from the past week about libraries, information, technology, and the future

  • “In a recent conversation, she explained that wired and wireless connections, building blocks of modern life, are now essentially controlled by four companies. Comcast and Time Warner have a complete lock on broadband in the markets they control, covering some 50 million American homes, while Verizon and AT&T own 64 percent of cellphone service. Don’t get her started on the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger unless you have some time on your hands.” – Telecom’s Big Players Hold Back the Future – NYTimes.com
  • “We must concede that though we can maintain the paths of URIs over the lifetime of a service, most domain names are inevitably ephemeral. A two year registration to host a joke, a fifteen year registration to build a company. All will be resold. What to do? We need to not fight the fragility. We need to look at the very heart of the web, the directory that connects the names of our services to the servers they run on, and we need to apply the concept of the Wayback Machine to it. We need temporal DNS, maintainable by librarians to keep the domains of the past connected to their archived futures. Your DNS provider as Time Lord*; rather than searching for what Geocities was like, picking a date at the DNS level could route all of your internet traffic through 1998.” – Building the Great Libraries of the Internet with a DNS time machine · Ben Ward
  • “Most are driven mainly by curiosity rather than the desire to show off their certificates to any potential employer, and none has paid for a verified certificate. Consider Anna Nachesa, a 42-year-old single mother in a village near Amsterdam who logs on to MOOCs for several hours each night after dinner with her teenage kids. She has always found TV boring, she says, and for her, MOOCs replace reading books. She is a physicist by training, with a degree from Moscow State University, and she works as a software developer. “This stuff is actually addictive,” she says. In some ways the lure is like Everest: Some want to climb it to see if they can. “The Dutch have the proverb ‘If you never shoot, you already missed,’” she says.” – What Professors Can Learn From ‘Hard Core’ MOOC Students – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • ““Let me state this for the record: the Internet is not dead. Digital will not disappear. Print will not kill the web.” These statements are laid out in bold red, right on the white cover of Fully Booked: Ink on Paper, a new hardback from Gestalten, and it’s such a familiar trope that it takes a moment to register the clever turnaround. The rest of the essay, which extends for pages into the interior, further imagines a world in which an emerging print media model threatens a long-standing digital world with new concepts such as linear narratives and the gift of space, smell, and tactility. It’s a nice setup for a publication promoting the uniquely physical experience of tangible publications.” – 1 | A Book That Celebrates The Tactile Thrills Of Print | Co.Design: business innovation design
  • “My point here is that technology has a tendency to create its own norms. The classic example is the automobile — a technology which kills more than 30,000 Americans every year. From the 1930s through the 1990s, societal norms about who roads belonged to, and what people should do on them, were turned on their head thanks to the new technology. The dangerous new activity allowed by the new technology became the privileged norm, to the point at which just about all other road-based activity — and roads have been around for thousands of years, remember, since long before the automobile — essentially ceased to exist. Eventually, we reached the point at which elected representatives were happy saying that if a bicyclist gets killed by a car, it’s the bicyclist’s fault for being on the road in the first place. If Google Glass — and wearable computing more generally — takes off and fulfills its potential, it will change society’s norms about what is public and what is private. It is therefore entirely rational, whatever you think of the set of norms we have right now, to assume that they will end up moving towards something more well disposed towards the new technology.” – How technology redefines norms : Columbia Journalism Review
  • “Today, your library might be able to lend you an e-reader, and it might have quite a few e-books, but I’d venture to say that the scenario of users ably borrowing devices and e-content from a library, academic or public, is rare. You can borrow a really nice $2,000 laptop, and look at e-books through a browser, but a $200 reader with an e-book? That’s unlikely. Yet this should be simple. Have you bought an e-book from a major corporate provider like Amazon? In under a minute, the book will be in your hands. Even your grandmother can do it! Have you borrowed an e-book from your local public library? If you haven’t, try to do so. If you have, you may have had the same experience most people do: the complexity is beyond mind-boggling. Teaching grandma UNIX seems easier. And even if your academic library is providing e-books, have you seen much choice in the available popular titles? It’s no wonder library users think: “Nice job getting all those articles in your catalog, but why can’t you figure out how to get them on my e-reader like the rest of the world can?” – We Love E-Books! (EDUCAUSE Review) | EDUCAUSE.edu
  • “BookStats found that trade publishing overall saw significant growth since 2011, despite the closures of many brick-and-mortar stores during the same period. Not surprisingly, publishers’ revenue from brick and mortar retail fell 7 percent, but more than made up the ground online, growing 21 percent. Overall, trade net revenue rose 6.9 percent to just over $15 billion in 2012. The number of books sold also grew, by 8.1 percent, to $2.291 billion. Ebooks make up a fifth of the trade market, according to BookStats, and were one of the growth drivers, growing by nearly half (44 percent) to over $3 billion in net revenue and grew almost as much in number of titles sold (42.8 percent).” – Ebooks, Online Drive Trade Sales Growth
  • “Bexar County’s so-called BiblioTech is a low-cost project with big ambitions. Its first branch will be in a relatively poor district on the city of San Antonio’s South Side. It will have 100 e-readers on loan, and dozens of screens where the public will be able to browse, study, and learn digital skills. However it’s likely most users will access BiblioTech’s initial holding of 10,000 digital titles from the comfort of their homes, way out in the Texas hinterland. It will be a truly bookless library – although that is not a phrase much to the liking of BiblioTech’s project co-ordinator, Laura Cole. She prefers the description “digital library” – after all, there will be books there, but in digital form.” – BBC News – Paperless public libraries switch to digital
  • “In particular, he said, elementary schools will increasingly adopt less disruptive styles of blended learning that rotate online learning activities into a student’s schedule but still maintain the basic structure of a traditional teacher-led classroom. For example, schools will continue to “flip” their classrooms with videos (from Khan Academy or other sources) students can watch online, but mostly rely on classroom teachers to shape the experience. At the middle school and high school levels, where students tend to have more personalized, modular schedules, he said, the school setting will remain in place but the classroom structure will be upended. In those grades, educators will increasingly adopt more disruptive blended learning models. For example, students looking for more advanced subjects or languages not offered at their school could supplement their in-school experience with online classes – even massive open online courses – that barely involve offline instruction.” – Clay Christensen takes closer look at how online learning will disrupt K-12 education — Tech News and Analysis
  • “The value of adaptive learning is unquestionable in every classroom. Teaching is hard—it requires working with 30 little minds, each moving at a different pace and learning in their own way. Optimizing the classroom to maximize each student’s experience is exactly the sort of thing software can provide teachers and their schools.” – These two charts make the case for iPads in every classroom – Quartz
  • “The medicine of our time is purported to be open information. The medicine comes in many bottles: open software, free online education, European pirate parties, Wikileaks, social media, and endless variations of the above. The principle of making information free seems, at first glance, to spread the power of information out of elite bubbles to benefit everyone. Unfortunately, although no one realized it beforehand, the medicine turns out to be poison.” – Free information, as great as it sounds, will enslave us all – Quartz
  • “The creation of the major shows that even financially secure institutions like Colorado College are not immune from a growing call by students, parents and policymakers to create a better connection between what happens in the classroom and potential careers. From career services to internships to new programs, even elite institutions are signaling that career preparation is a key component of their mission. But the new program, and the way Colorado College officials are talking about it, is also reflective of a shift in the way liberal arts colleges sell themselves. Amid much hand-wringing about what the future holds for such institutions (including numerous books, columns and conferences), some leaders have begun to formulate a different argument.” – Colorado College’s education major challenges whether disciplines still define the liberal arts | Inside Higher Ed