I feel that I should mention ALA Connect

ALA’s press release about ALA Connect and their blog announcement. ALA Connect itself. You don’t have to be a member. I signed up just to check out the user experience. They required me to have a username that includes my first and last name (i.e. different from every other username I have on the entire Internet, and that’s saying something) so you can find me there as: jess amyn.

As a non-member I’m limited to what I can do. I can tell you something I can do: figure out the first and last name of every ALA member, their work affiliation and what their level of ALA involvement is. It’s a little complicated, but I’m somewhat surprised that this is even possible. I can see a lot of people’s photos. People who might be surprised that their names and photos are up on a site that anyone can belong to. You know me, I’m a big social networker and my name address and phone number are all over everywhere, so I may be worrying for no good reason. Do people care if everyone knows that they’re a member of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (hey, I made that graphic, back in 1997!), perhaps not. It’s certainly useful to me as a non-member to find people I might want to ask about certain things and a ton easier than searching the website. Go see what you think.

8 Responses to “I feel that I should mention ALA Connect”

  1. marianariabibliotecaria Says:

    That’s a bit scary. I don’t know about possible repercussions for being on the Social Responsibility roundtable, but I imagine there’s a Lesbian-Gay, etc. roundtable, and, unfortunately, I can easily see the possibility of repercussions from being identified as a member of that one.

  2. Rick Mason Says:

    I am an ALA member, and there are radio button selectors in my profile to let me choose:

    * Show my profile to ALA members only.
    * Show my profile to ALA members and the public.

    It seems to be an all-or-nothing choice, but you may be seeing only those who have selected the public option… just a guess.

  3. Jenny Levine Says:

    Thanks for the post, Jessamyn. Some additional information:

    1. The profile info displaying to authenticated non-members was a mistake that has been rectified. They now only see a member’s name and picture. The picture is a voluntary addition and can be anything. Some members are using pictures of their cat, library, etc. I’d like to note that at no time was contact information ever available to non-members or even members by default. Only friends you’ve manually marked as part of your network can see contact information.
    2. The username issue is an unfortunate side effect of difficulties we encountered with Drupal’s native search engine. We had to go this route to make it easier for other things, such as searching for members and alphabetizing lists without resorting to hacking Drupal core worse than we already have. The username issue only affects non-members, as members can use whatever username they’ve chosen on the ALA website for their membership account. We regret this inconvenience.
    3. Non-members and the public can see the first name and last name of most members, but “every” is incorrect. ALA has long offered members the option to opt out of appearing in the member directory, and Connect respects that preference. A few thousand people have that option checked in their member profile, and they don’t appear anywhere in Connect. If a member is uncomfortable with her name appearing on the site, she can log in to the website and check that box in her profile to exclude herself.
    4. Rick is correct that members can choose to display their full profiles publicly, although this still does not include contact information. Members also have the ability to hide any non-committee affiliation from their profile. Theoretically, a member could hide all of his community, division, round table, and section affiliations from displaying to other members.
    5. We worked with the GLBTRT folks to notify their members well in advance of the launch about these options, and we offered to go in and hide that affiliation for anyone who requested it.

    I hope this helps clarify things, but please let me know if you have further questions or concerns. We’re pretty proud of the level of privacy options Connect gives members. They have far more control than they’ve ever had before.

  4. Jessica Says:

    Well, I tried 6 times to create an account (I am not currently an ALA member) and every single time I got a message saying that my username had to start with my first and last names – which it did. I tried adding punctuation, spacing, numbers, whatever it said was allowed, and no luck. I have signed up for hundreds of online accounts in the past 15 years, and, um, yeah, it’s not rocket science – or is it? Sort of a FAIL, IMHO.

  5. Jenny Levine Says:

    Sorry it failed for you, Jessica. If you’d like help with this, please let me know. We’re excited by the number of non-members creating accounts and joining the communities there.

  6. 1154964 Says:

    jess amyn? count yourself lucky. ala members are rewarded with their member ids as usernames. here’s a new reason to quit ala: you can use your name to log in to ala connect.

    i don’t mean to grumble, not too much. ala connect is a great idea and i hope it will thrive, if not for all six kajillion ala members, then at least for a few groups of people willing to work for ala online.

  7. Jenny Levine Says:

    1154964 – you can totally change your username to whatever you want it to be just by updating your member profile on the ALA website. If you’re logging in with your member number, it’s because you haven’t chosen your own username on the website yet. Once you do that, you’ll be able to log in to Connect (and the website) with that new username.

    And to be very clear abpit tjos, we don’t display anyone’s member number *anywhere* on ALA Connect.

    If you encounter any problems with this process, please let me know at jlevine@ala.org.

  8. Why We Should Adopt ALAConnect: A brief review and rumination on ALA’s new online community | In the Library with the Lead Pipe Says:

    [...] seems to be another issue with the system. In fact, Jessamyn West was one of the first to comment on it. (You’ll notice from the comments in that blog post that ALA staff was quick to respond and [...]