How Two Women Embraced Their Path to IT Management

This is a chapter in the forthcoming book, We Can Do I.T.: Women in Library I.T.. I co-authored this chapter with Kat Hagedorn. The book will be published in early 2018.

Hitting the Road towards a Greater Digital Destination: Evaluating and Testing DAMS at the University of Houston Libraries

Abstract: Since 2009, tens of thousands of rare and unique items have been made available online for research through the University of Houston Digital Library.  Six years later, the Libraries’ new digital initiatives call for a more dynamic digital repository infrastructure that is extensible, scalable, and interoperable. The Libraries’ mission and the mandate of its strategic directions drives the pursuit of seamless access and expanded digital collections. To answer the calls for technological change, the Libraries Administration appointed a Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) Implementation Task Force to explore, evaluate, test, recommend, and implement a more robust digital asset management system. This article focuses on the task force’s DAMS selection activities: needs assessment, systems evaluation, and systems testing. The authors also describe the task force’s DAMS recommendation based on the evaluation and testing data analysis, a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of each system, and system cost. Finally, the authors outline their DAMS implementation strategy comprised of a phased rollout with the following stages: system installation, data migration, and interface development.

Citation: Wu, Annie, Santi Thompson, Rachel Vacek, Andy Weidner, and Sean Watkins. “Hitting the Road towards a Greater Digital Destination: Evaluating and Testing DAMS at the University of Houston Libraries.” Information Technology and Libraries, 35:2 (2016): 5-18.

Streamlining Data for Cross-Platform Web Delivery

Journal of Web LibrarianshipAbstract: Smartphone users expect the presentation of Web sites on their mobile browsers to look and feel like native applications. With the pressure on library Web developers to produce app-like mobile sites, there is often a rush to get a site up without considering the importance of reusing or even restructuring the data driving the Web sites. An additional challenge is the content maintenance required of any Web site, regardless of platform, underscoring the advantage of pulling content from other systems to decrease redundancy. This article highlights case studies from two large research universities, examines how each one is streamlining its data for multiple Web-based platforms, and discusses how to work toward making data more flexible so content is delivered from single source points rather than duplicated on individual delivery platforms.

Citation: Watkins, Sean, Jason Battles, and Rachel Vacek. “Streamlining Data for Cross-Platform Web Delivery.” Journal of Web Librarianship, 7:1 (2013): 95-108.

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Developing an Easy, Functional ERM

Charleston ConferenceAbstract: The need for various stakeholders in the library to access licensing information is critical when various departments are working with electronic resources. Managing these electronic resources can be a daunting task for those who have little experience working in the Resource Manager interface. This paper offers the process of developing an easy, functional ERM that is user-friendly. It offers the steps that electronic resource coordinators at the University of Houston took to create a new resource called the Electronic Resources License Repository (ERLR) and the feedback they received. The paper serves as inspiration for other library coordinators who wish to create similar resources.

Citation: Brett, Kelsey, Jeannie Castro, and Rachel Vacek. “Building a Better Mousetrap: Developing an Easy, Functional ERM.” Proceedings of the Charleston Library Conference. 2012.

Improving the Drupal User Experience

code 4 lib journalAbstract: Drupal is a powerful, but complex, Web Content Management System, being adopted by many libraries. Installing Drupal typically involves adding additional modules for flexibility and increased functionality. Although installing additional modules does increase functionality, it inevitably complicates usability. At the University of Houston Libraries, the Web Services department researched what modules work well together to accomplish a simpler interface while simultaneously providing the flexibility and advanced tools needed to create a successful user experience within Drupal. This article explains why particular modules were chosen or developed, how the design enhanced the user experience, how the CMS architecture was created, and how other library systems were integrated into Drupal.

Citation: Vacek, Rachel, Derek Keller, Christina Morris, and Sean Watkins. “Improving the Drupal User Experience.” Code4Lib Journal, 12 (2010).

Intranet 2.0 from a Project Management Perspective

Designing Library IntranetsAbstract: Library intranets require flexibility and efficiency and enhance the internal communication and collaborative nature of creating and organizing the institution’s information. At the University of Houston Libraries, the focus was on public services, so little attention was given to the intranet—the tool every department relied on for quick access to their content. Text-heavy, static Web pages with poor organization and outdated information made the site unusable. In 2008, the University of Houston Libraries assembled a team to begin the considerable task of redesigning the intranet with Drupal, a popular open source content management system that would allow for interactive information sharing, user-centered design, and new ways of collaboration. This article outlines on the overall project management of the intranet redesign process, including methods used for collecting staff feedback, evaluating existing and potential content, creating a new information architecture focused on departments and committees, establishing new internal communication channels, creating staff enthusiasm and buy-in, and training the entire library staff.

The article was published in a special issue of the Journal of Web Librarianship, and that special issue was later published as a book.

Citation of Article: Sharpe, Paul A., and Rachel E. Vacek. “Intranet 2.0 from a Project Management Perspective.” Journal of Web Librarianship, 4:2/3 (2010): 239-249.

Citation of Book Chapter: Sharpe, Paul A., and Rachel E. Vacek. “Intranet 2.0 from a Project Management Perspective.” Designing and Developing Library Intranets. Edited by Nina McHale. (London: Routledge, 2013).

Piloting Mobile Services at UH Libraries

M-Libraries book coverAbout: In the fall of 2008, a small group of librarians at the University of Houston (UH) Libraries embarked on a pilot project to develop, deploy, and evaluate mobile services for library users. The overall objective of the project was to discover how mobile devices could be used to enhance services currently provided by the library and, concurrently, to investigate mobile technology efforts at other libraries.

Citation: Coombs, Karen, Veronica Arellano, Miranda Bennett, Robin Dasler, and Rachel Vacek. “Piloting Mobile Services at UH Libraries.” M-libraries 2: A Virtual Library in Everyone’s Pocket. Edited by Mohamed Ally and Gill Needham. (London: Facet Publishing, 2010).

Columns in Information Technology and Libraries

LITAWhen I was President of the Library & Information Technology Association (LITA) between 2014-2015, I wrote three columns for LITA’s online and open-access journal, Information Technology and Libraries.

Vacek, Rachel. “President’s Column: Making an Impact in the Time That is Given to Us.” Information Technology and Libraries. 34/2 (2015): 3-4.

Vacek, Rachel. “President’s Message: Twitter Nodes to Networks: Thoughts on the #litaforum.” Information Technology and Libraries. 33/4 (2014): 1-9.

Vacek, Rachel. “President’s Message: UX Thinking and the LITA Member Experience.” Information Technology and Libraries. 33/3 (2014): 1-4.