TechAtlas online course is here!

June 26, 2006

After many months of development, the TechAtlas for Libraries online course is now available on WebJunction. This modular course covers many different aspects of the TechAtlas tool suite, and allows you to focus on individual topics in any order that you like. It is not necessary to take the entire class; you can follow only those sections of the course that are relevant for your own use of TechAtlas (good for those of you who are time-challenged!)

Best of all, the course is free for all WebJunction members! You do need to be a registered WebJunction member to enroll in the TechAtlas class, but since WebJunction membership is also free, make sure to visit WebJunction's Self Registration page to create an account and get started if you haven't already done so.


Live Chat for TechAtlas

June 20, 2006

Recently I used a tool called Gabbly, an online chat tool that can be added to any website. I'm thinking we could host live chat on TechAtlas for a limited number of hours each week for logged in users. Anyone logged in could chat, and we'd have a host online to help moderate and answer questions. I think it would be interesting to see what questions surface when people have an easy way to chat directly with someone. What would you think of a chat session on TechAtlas for librariese to be held on Friday mornings, 9am-12n? I'm thinking that having a designated timeframe would allow us to staff moderation adequately, and focus attention so we wouldn't have dead time. I'm thinking we that WebJunction can add Gabbly using the sitemanager content editor on the start page, providing a link when chat is to be active and removing it when it's inactive.


Library Technology Use Survey Results

June 20, 2006

Over 3000 libraries completed the Library Technology Use Survey on TechAtlas. Here are the results. For a broader set of questions on more detailed technology issues, see the results of WebJunction's Basic Technology Assessment.

A couple stats that caught my attention were:

  • Do you perceive a need or an interest in technology training from your library's patron community? Yes 72%, No 11%, Not sure 9%.
  • Does your library currently provide public access computing (PAC) opportunities for your patrons? 93% Yes

A disaster planning tool for libraries

June 13, 2006

While not strictly related to TechAtlas, the dPlan disaster planning tool is well worth mentioning as another great online resource for libraries. dPlan is a free, web-based tool made available by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

The general concept behind dPlan is similar to TechAtlas. The dPlan site provides an online template for you to fill out with critical information on disaster planning for your library, and allows you to print out a complete disaster plan, consolidating everything that you have entered online. dPlan has been receiving a lot of attention in the library community recently, and once you check out what the tool has to offer, you'll quickly understand why!


Enhancements to the TechAtlas Event Tracker

June 12, 2006

Thanks to those of you who submitted feedback around the proposed "network notebook" for TechAtlas. You gave us some great suggestions to mull over…

Our next area of design concentration is the TechAtlas Event Tracker tool, which we discussed during a WebJunction webcast last week (see the TechAtlas Online Learning Opportunities page for archived documents from that session). The following list presents Event Tracker enhancements that have been suggested to date – let us hear from you if you have additional suggestions on how we can improve the Event Tracker:

  • Provide a read-only view of the list of Event Tracker events, so staff members can see what events have already been reported. The goal is to provide a way for staff to see what issues have already been logged in order to avoid duplication.
  • Add a date sort ability on the Date column in the event table.
  • Add an alphabetically sortable Work Area column to the event table.
  • Add a text search function to the main Event Tracker page. This would allow the user to do a free text search on the Description and Resolution fields from each event, and optionally filter that search by values from the Event Type and Status fields.
  • Allow users to assign events to Work Areas (i.e. library branches or physical locations within the library).
  • Change terminology on the Event Form so that the Resolution field is re-named to the Action field.
  • Allow event reporters to choose to receive automatic e-mail updates each time that an event record is modified. This provides a status reporting mechanism for the person who reported a particular event.
  • On the Event Form, modify the Event Type drop-down list by moving the blank entry (currently number 8 on the list) to the top of the list. Re-word the blank to something like "Click to select Event Type."
  • Allow individual libraries to modify the block of instructional text at the top of the Event Form page. The goal is to allow libraries to add customized instructions on properly selecting items in inventory and event types according to local practice.
  • Allow user to select Software Subscriptions in inventory on the Event Form "Track an event for" drop-down list. Software subscriptions are the only inventory category currently missing from this list.

A “network notebook” for TechAtlas

June 6, 2006

As we draft designs for the various planned areas of enhancement for TechAtlas version 2.3, we'll post some of the relevant documents here on the blog in order to solicit feedback from the user community. If we get your feedback early in the development cycle, we still have time to consider and implement your suggestions!

First up is the network notebook. Some of you may already be familiar with the Downloadable Technology Plan that is currently available in TechAtlas (you can find it on the Evaluate tab). The network notebook will be a similar function that will aggregate all of the technical inventory data that you have entered into TechAtlas, and allow you to download that information in a word processing file format.

The goal is to give you a convenient mechanism for pulling together your inventory data and creating a physical or electronic document that can serve as a single source of critical information on your library's Internet connection, local area network, telecommunications equipment, computers, etc.

Attached is a draft of the proposed format of this network notebook. The actual document in TechAtlas will be downloadable in either Microsoft Word (.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rtf). Take a look at the attached template and let us know:

  • Is there important information that ought to be in such a network notebook that is missing?
  • Not all fields shown in the template (such as passwords) can be populated by TechAtlas, so some of them would be left blank for the user to complete in the downloaded document.  Is it useful to retain these blank fields as "placeholders" in the template?
  • Is it useful to include a generic client/server or peer-to-peer network architecture diagram, as shown in this template?

Take a look at this template and post your feedback as comments to this blog entry, or send your ideas to Jeff Hall at WebJunction.


A help desk tool for your library

June 5, 2006

One of the best features of TechAtlas is the ability to "mine" your technology inventory as critical data for driving technology planning in your library. Although it can be time-consuming to create the inventory in the first place, once you have done so, TechAtlas offers the ability to leverage the inventory information in a number of different ways.

The TechAtlas Event Tracker is one such tool. The Event Tracker is essentially a "help desk" tool, allowing you to track issues related to items in your TechAtlas inventory. Despite the great value of the tool, the Event Tracker is not as well known as some other parts of TechAtlas.

To help remedy this and show TechAtlas users how they can best take advantage of the Event Tracker, WebJunction is presenting a free webcast this Wednesday, June 7 beginning at 1 pm EDT / 10 am PDT. This webcast will focus exclusively on the Event Tracker, and how it can be used in a library setting. If you are interested in participating in this webcast, visit WebJunction's TechAtlas Online Learning Opportunities page to learn more.