Here in the DUL Information Technology Services organization, we continue to embrace Agile concepts, applied to many different types of projects, including the Integrated Library System (ILS), the development of specialized repositories, and even the exhibits hosted in the Libraries. Check out the amazing new Senses of Venice exhibit that opened last week.
I like to think of Agile as a mindset rather than a specific tool set or framework (like scrum). The four values envisioned in the 2001 Agile Manifesto were devised in deliberate contrast to the rigor and slowness of erstwhile software development practices, and these concepts are still quite relevant today:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
Sometimes, when things develop as a backlash, the pendulum can swing too far the other way and we throw out some of the tried and true good bits. On the other hand, we can slip back, as described in Steve Bank’s HBR piece, “When Waterfall Principles Sneak Back into Agile Workflows”.
Pendulums swing, but basically, when you face uncertainty, try something you think might work, get feedback, and adjust accordingly.
It’s that time of year at the university when we’re working on our PEPs (Performance Evaluation and Planning forms) and I’m thinking about how grateful I am to have such smart staff who really care about their work, their colleagues, and the people they serve, as we advance technology across the libraries. In contrast to some corporate environments, the process here really does aim to help us improve, rather than rank us as a setup for “resource actions” (firings). This excellent article, The Feedback Fallacy by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, reminds me to emphasize the things people do well, and encourage them to build on their strengths.
Attuned to ethical practices within organizations, I’m also excited about increasing awareness of ethics in the effects of the technologies we produce. Justin Sherman, co-founder of the Ethical Tech initiative here at Duke, did a stimulating talk at the Edge Workshop this month about ethical issues that surround technology, such as search engine bias, and AI tools that judges use to determine sentencing for crimes. Justin recommends this podcast, with Christopher Lydon on Open Source, called Real Education About Artificial Intelligence. Library staff are participating in the Kenan Institute for Ethics book club program (KIE), where the spring selection is Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble.
And, I’m pleased to exercise my hiring mantra, “smart people who care”, which has served me well for over 30 years, as we’re recruiting candidates with I/T and team leadership experience for a new position, Computing Services Supervisor.
Director, Information Technology Services
In my first six weeks at DUL (Duke University Libraries), I’m deciphering acronyms, even beyond those I absorbed at IBM, Toshiba, and LexisNexis, which is to say, a whole new lexicon.
Within the DST (Digital Strategies and Technology) organization, my ITS (Information Technology Services) team consists of three departments, located in the PBR complex (Perkins Bostock Rubenstein, not Pabst Blue Ribbon).
- Core Services supports > 100 tools and platforms, deploys and maintains > 600 systems and workstations, and sets up all the specialized equipment you see throughout the libraries
- Software Services develops state of the art applications such as the RDR (Research Data Repository)
- LSIS (Library Systems & Integration Support) is preparing for the evolution to a new LSP (Library Services Platform) called FOLIO in collaboration with OLF (Open Library Foundation), Index Data, and EBSCO (Elton B. Stephens Co.)
We work in conjunction with Duke’s OIT (Office of Information Technology), and with many external organizations, such as SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), OLE (Open Library Environment), OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), ABCDEFG (no, I’m getting carried away…).
Unlike the commercial sector, we’re intent on collaboration rather than competition. I’m excited to be a part of TRLN (Triangle Research Library Network), and the Ivy Plus Libraries partnership of 13 leading academic libraries who sponsor the BorrowDirect initiative.
This is such a fun place to work! We have a staff yoga class given by Lindsey Crawford of Global Breath Studio, and I figured out how to use the meescan app , to check out an actual book, from which I learned from Smitten Kitchen that chaat masala is great on popcorn. Last night I was thrilled to attend the Durham Literacy Center’s event sponsored by DUL, with author Therese Anne Fowler.
Now if I could catch the PR1; bus which traverses the full mile between my office and parking….
SMTL (So Much To Learn)!
New Director – ITS @ DUL