Tag Archives: technology

Who’s on first? Keeping track

blog_0810

[photo credit: bahri altay / shutterstock.com]

We have recently debuted a new internal tracking system for our CPC partners. We have a lot of contacts with people who work in presidential sites and libraries, and while my email is a good way for ME to keep track of conversations and partner activity, it is not so good for other people. So Amber, our web developer, built a tracking system in the back-end of our content management system. Now instead of my email and a spreadsheet that lives only on my desktop, we are tracking our interactions with partners in our CMS, and that means it is available to the whole team at any point in the process.

Recruiting partners, adding metadata into CPC, and finalizing partner information on the CPC website generally takes many steps and a long time. I generally reach out to a potential partner at least three times before we can finalize a partnership, and then it takes many more emails to handle the details such as the partner agreement and the data export of metadata for CPC.

This isn’t a problem—it is just the process that is necessary to build partnerships and grow CPC. In many cases, potential partners don’t know us and need to learn about the Miller Center and CPC before they are willing to consider joining the project.

Then we have many partners that don’t yet have digital items but in many cases they are working on it. So I email a partner and then check back in periodically to find out where they are in their process. One partner that I first reached out to in November 2015 was interested, but they needed to put their items online before they could consider a partnership with CPC. By August 2016 the site was up!

That timetable is actually fast—it normally takes a long time for an organization to put their collections online, and it takes a long time to redesign websites. One partner we work with took more than two years to redesign their website. It takes a long time in part because many partner organizations are beholden to outside web design companies to build their new websites. And honestly, building a new website is detailed and complicated work. It cannot be done on the fly.

I’m excited about our new tracking system because it is one step toward moving CPC past a temporary grant project and into life as a full-fledged program. The IMLS grant continues into 2017 but we are working on building more permanent systems and processes for CPC that can see it into the future. So although it has taken me a long time to put all the partner information into the tracking system, I know that it is effort well spent because it shares and preserves valuable information.

 

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New Look and Feel!

As promised, I’ve updated the CPC website, which now features updated versions of Blacklight, Ruby on Rails, and Solr.

More importantly, it’s got its own logo (nicely done, Amber!)  I think that’s reason enough to go have a look.  We’ve also made some changes to how you search and discover documents, so by all means visit the site and let us know in the comments what you think.

Joining the Team

It’s introduction time! This has been a while in the making, but I’m delighted to say I’ve joined the CPC project, and the Miller Center, as the new web developer.

New Computer by N1NJ4, on Flickr

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  N1NJ4  (source: Flickr)

My name is Matthew Stephens, and most recently I was a technologist at Alderman Library, here at the University of Virginia. This is where Blacklight was born, and I’ve been a fan of it and Apache Solr for many years. Prior to my coming to UVA, I worked at Intelex, a digital publisher here in Charlottesville, and that’s where I cut my teeth on metadata aggregation, something very much on the minds of everyone here. Needless to say, I’m very excited to work on a project where I can build upon past experience and learn new ways to do things I care about.

The first item on my (growing) to-do list is updating the CPC site. Open source software is a moving target, and many of the components of the site are due for an update. The Blacklight team has released version 5.3.0 in the past month, and upgrading to this, along with many dependencies, will keep the CPC application current with the broader community of Ruby-on-Rails and Solr enthusiasts. Along with the upgrades, I will be streamlining a few things under the hood, including the indexing of the metadata provided by our partners. A Solr index is many a splendored thing, and part of my role will be to ensure that the information we receive from partners can be effectively searched and discovered by our users.

I’m delighted to join a team that has already impressed me with their creativity, expertise, and drive. I’ve also learned of their passion for the serial comma, so you may view that last sentence as a peace offering, given my expressed agnosticism. (I’m sure we’ll work that out in the months to come. I’m also from Canada, so my pronunciation of the letter ‘Z’ may be an issue.)

Modern web development is a fascinating endeavor, but so much more so when the endless possibilities are shaped by serving a community. I invite any and all interested readers to have a look at the site as it changes over the coming months. We’re all eager to make something interesting and useful, and we welcome any suggestions you’d care to make.

I tweet, occasionally and somewhat whimsically, at this address.