Minutes, October 21, 2015 (Approved)

A meeting of the Computer and Information Systems (CIS) Committee was held on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 in the Library Conference Room. Attendees were:

Nancy Davenport (Library)

Terry Fernandez (OIT)

Stefan Kramer (Library)

Carl Levan (SIS)

Joseph Mortati (Kogod)

Chris Simpson (SOC)

Amy Taylor (WCL)

Items Discussed:

Joseph clarified the idea behind the “clearinghouse” concept:

It is an intake body/mechanism for various technology issues in the community.

Q’s include: which entities may be impacted; what resources should be brought to bear?


-what software options are available for faculty?

-trying to get class roster pictures on blackboard


Minutes need to be approved for:

May 2015; September 2015.

Amy moves that we approve.

Chris seconds the motion.

All in favor.

Minutes are approved.


Now the meeting moves to databases/datasets.

The meeting is turned over to Stefan.


In some cases databases are a replacement for what used to be in print, such as full-text journals.

The Collection management team and subject librarians make these decisions.

We have 528 current subscriptions (some are freely available but it is helpful to users for the library to aggregate their availability)

Databases are housed on the web servers of the vendors; vendors give us access.

Restrictions are that we limit use to campus community or some subset thereof. Some are seat licenses.

Web-based access is all that is required and there is proxy server access for users who are off-campus.

You may need other software to download data. Those are now marked with an excel icon — about 70 databases have this option.

Licensing is provided by large vendors who offer customer support, such as Ebsco or Proquest or Springer.

Well-greased machinery to take our payments. Lead time can be as little as days or can be weeks.

The consortia is looking at an informational baseline for all students in the consortia. Are there databases that 8 libraries can fund that 9 can use? Are there discounts that a consortia could obtain by negotiating together?

We currently don’t share databases among the consortia. Each individual library has a separate subscription. If Georgetown has something that we don’t, and vice-versa, then you have to go there to access.

There are a few databases that the UL and the Pence Law Library purchase together.


Acquiring datasets is pretty new to the library.

We have a server, and when datasets are licensed we put them on that server.

If freely available, we wouldn’t put them there.

Megan maintains a subject guide of geospatial datasets.


Chris – these datasets can be enormous. And even if publically available, the dataset might not be useable by normal people. Download sequence can be complicated, etc. It really makes sense for an institution to provide a selection of basic datasets for reliable handling by users, even if they are freely available.


Stefan – sympathizes with the problem. If we want to take this on, we would need a larger operation to make this happen.

Other questions: what is the official source? What are conversion issues?


Chris – if we are focusing on a project, such as the one for community-based research, then would it be possible for selected datasets to be made available? Metadata? Tips on how to use to make them more user friendly? Much more limited and focused approach to a general problem.


Nancy – students have not asked for this yet. The scholarships for community-based research are given to incoming freshman.

We could talk to the advisor for this program and find out what they are doing. Do we have any kind of data that might be useful to them so that we can teach them to use it early in their careers?


Joseph – could Megan be a guest speaker at one of our meetings?


Terry – We could meet in the lab.

Stefan will check on the lab’s schedule.


Stefan – we have a couple of databases that have geospatial information. SimplyMap; PolicyMap; and SocialExplorer.

Datasets – we buy files that are delivered to us. SAS, SPSS, .txt, and we put them on the server that we have through WRLC, our consortium.

We have the files on this server, and we have a record in our library catalog of these files. A catalog record is for one item, but the datasets have multiples file and descriptions. We are trying to work on how to make this metadata available. It is a work in progress.

Some problems with buying datasets is that they are not set up to sell to universities. This is not just a challenge when working with small businesses but also with foreign governments.


Carl – can there be some kind of proactive work so that every AU researcher doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel?


Stefan now addressed our open data portal.

It’s a place where AU faculty can share, publish and visualize their research data.

Future discussion -what do you think of this? is it useable? would you put something there?

Carl – what are the advantages of putting datasets here rather than on a personal account?

Stefan and Nancy – institutional responsibility for maintaining the data; can also point back to you.

Chris – there are always tradeoffs and working through them is something we can do.

Also, monetization issues. Has AU explicitly agreed not to monetize it?


Terry requests that we host someone who will talk to us about the email migration. We will attempt to schedule this for our November meeting.


Roster update: Blackboard determined that they needed to do custom level work to display the student’s pictures on roster. They have given a quote. Now working with the purchasing department. Price tag is $10,000. Request was for it to go through Blackboard because it was the approach that OIT recommended at the time. That’s where it is now, in purchasing.