Library, Information, and Technology Services

Jorge Knows Summer

May 25, 2012 by Mary Stettner

 Jorge and the Lion take a van

Jorge knows it's time for summer vacation!  And apparently he's taking the Lion class mascot with him via air-conditioned campus van . . .

[Read More]

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation...

Aug 22, 2011 by Fred Kass


Welcome to another Academic Year!  This has been a busy summer for the Mount Holyoke College Networking Department and we thought it might be nice to highlight some of the changes.

Bandwidth:  Due to demand we have nearly doubled our Internet Bandwidth!  Our Internet links are now at 300mbit/s for normal commodity Internet and an additional 100mbit/s to Internet2.  We started last year at 166mbit/s Commodity Internet and 45mbit/s to Internet2.  Internet traffic was definitely slower than we would have liked last year. During peak 7-11pm hours streaming video performance was less than ideal.  As students arrive, and their Internet needs increase as they do every year, we will continue to monitor the situation.  Hopefully this will be enough to get us through the year without any major slowdowns.

Email:  Last year we saw some major slowdowns in our email system during peak times (like Monday mornings).  A new faster mail server with faster mail processing software should be in place before the start of the semester. We also have new version of Horde/IMP web-mail which includes a Dynamic Email option.

Online Discussion:  Online discussions and communication are important and our WebNews/USENET setup was really showing its age.  It lacked a lot of the features we wanted and had a bug which stopped some users for being able to log in.  We are phasing out that system and replacing it with web based forum software.  Hopefully this will re-energize the ride board, for sale, tech talk and general online community conversations.  Go check it out at: 

Identity Management:  We have re-worked a lot of the technical, behind the scenes, stuff that makes accounts and logins work.  This includes things such as LDAP, SOAP, and a lot of other services that are complicated in nature. If you want to know more, feel free to contact us and we'll bore you with the details. We did this to support a lot of different authentication methods including a somewhat exciting one called Shibboleth.  This will allow you to use your MHC Account to access resources all around the five colleges and beyond.  Right now you can login to Hampshire's Moodle Learning Management System with your MHC account.  Hopefully you'll see a lot more Shibboleth enabled services in the future.  We are also using it for the pilot a Virtual Computer Lab (VLC) project which allows students to remotely access windows desktops with course required software from anywhere!  The VLC is still in early testing phases however, more on that later...

VPN:  Our new VPN service is now web based, and much easier to use. It supports Macs, Windows, Linux, iOS (iPad/iPod/iPhone), and Android Phones!  It also has some neat features like virtual meeting/desktop sharing software and a website proxy service.  All employees will be able to use the VPN without sign-up or registrations (students still need to register for access).  We are just finishing the beta testing period and will be fully rolling it out soon.  Please stay tuned for more information!

More Wireless:  We are definitely hearing the demands for more wireless coverage on campus.  We have added a few more wireless zones here and there over the summer.  Our plan is to take a more comprehensive look at areas not currently covered this semester.  If you aren't already we highly recommend you only use the encrypted networks (SSIDs) LyonNet-Encrypt and MHC-Encrypt (password "marylyon").

SAGE:  In co-operation with the Math Department we are piloting a new open source web based math software called Sage.  Our hope is this tool might replace much more expensive and less flexible desktop only tools like Mathematica, Maple, and Matlab.  You can try it here:

Many of the services Networking provides are behind the scenes computing foundations and are only noticed by others when they break. We made some big changes here too you might be interested in!

Virtualization 2.0:  Several years ago MHC began piloting a product called VMWare for server virtualization and consolidation.  We grew slowly, upgrading departmental level servers away from physical machines and into our virtual environment.  This summer we took a big leap and purchased a Cisco Unified Computing System containing 104 Intel Cores and over 800 Gigabytes of RAM to run VMWare on.  Along with this we purchased a 40 Terabyte Dell Compellent Storage Array to increase our disk capacity.  These systems are interconnected by 10gbit/s Ethernet and 8gbit/s fiber channel.  This new configuration should allow us to very quickly expand to meet server and disk needs without a lot of reconfiguration.  The other cool thing is it should make our failure downtime even less then it is now.   The systems are fully redundant and automatically fail over hardware to another server whenever an issue occurs or we need to upgrade something.  Beyond the easier expandability and redundancy they are also the fastest and most energy efficient systems we have.

Datatel Server Upgrade:  The operating system underneath the Datatel Student Information System has been completely upgraded to improve security and keep up with vendor support requirements.


Jorge Knows: Summer!

May 26, 2011 by Mary Stettner

Grand theft golf cart 

Jorge knows it's time for summer break!  And he's decided that the Sphinx,
after four years of seeing the Class of 2011 through to graduation,
deserves a vacation.  At least that would explain why Jorge was last
seen driving off in the LITS golf cart with an enigmatic, leonine figure
seated in the back.

[Read More]

The Return of Jorge

Aug 31, 2010 by Leigh Mantle

Pegasus & Jorge Photo by Mary Stettner

Jorge, LITS mascot and favorite MHC goose, has returned via Air Pegasus.  Jorge was visiting another world heritage site, the Acropolis, at the same time Pegasus was wrapping up a summer visit to the home country so they decided to make the trip back to MHC together. 

is just in time to help LITS welcome new and returning students.  LITS
has lots of events planned for Pre-Orientation and Orientation 2010, and
we invite new students to read the Letter to New Students

[Read More]

By the Numbers: 500,000 Books, 7 Students, and 12 Weeks

Aug 27, 2010 by Leigh Mantle

The LITS Great Summer Move is finished!  The collection was spread out to take advantage of new space on the
seventh floor of the Miles-Smith building (due to a 2007 consolidation
project with Archives & Special Collections materials) and all
materials stayed in the LITS complex (Williston, Miles-Smith and Dwight). 

Thanks to our fantastic summer students (Sara, Marian, Faye, Lara,
Zahra, Ifeyinwa, and Fiona) and Access Services Supervisor Ethan Powers,
we moved an estimated half a million volumes this summer and created
more space for the book collection.  Next time you're checking out a
book at the Circulation Desk
be sure to let them know what you think of the new layout and see if
they'll show off those muscles!  If you need assistance locating a book
or would like a copy of the new LITS map, please ask at the Circulation Desk or the Research Help Desk
[Read More]

Planes, trains, automobiles, & a boatload of books

Aug 12, 2010 by Leigh Mantle

Flickr Creative Commons  For many people summer means traveling in various motorized vehicles with just a few suitcases (or a nice big stack)
to destinations around the world. 

 Here's a round-up of some book lists
to help keep you supplied with good reads while you're traveling. 


[Read More]

ella Upgrade vs. Acrobatics

Jun 15, 2010 by Leigh Mantle

 Announcing a Brand New Look for ella!

Flickr: The Commons

LITS is pleased to announce an upgrade to ella, Mount Holyoke College's learning management system, a set of tools for teaching, learning, and sharing all sorts of information.  All of your sites should continue to work as you expect. You will notice
that ella looks slightly different including easy to read tabs at the
top for navigation. The "More" menu has been replaced with "My
Active Sites
" which opens a page listing all of your sites. We've
also added a couple of new tools and we'll be posting more information about them later.  If you have questions, please Ask a Librarian!

A special note to faculty:
Fall courses should be available beginning June 15th and automatic enrollment
of students has started.  For any questions or help with your new course sites, please contact
your liaison or send email to:

Photo Credit: Flickr: The Commons

The LITS Great Summer Move

Jun 09, 2010 by Leigh Mantle

The LITS Great Summer Move: 7 floors of books, 7 staff members, and 3 months.  This summer Access Services staff (those wonderful people who check out your library materials at the Circulation Desk) will be moving almost the entire book collection to create more space.  The collection will be spread out to take advantage of new space on the seventh floor of the Miles-Smith building (due to a 2007 consolidation project with Archives & Special Collections materials) and all materials will stay in the LITS complex (Williston, Miles-Smith and Dwight).  Now that the move has begun, someone will be moving books every hour of the day for the entire summer!  If you need assistance locating a book during the move, please ask at the Circulation Desk or Ask a Librarian.  We'll post updates on the moving team's progress and signs will also be posted throughout the LITS complex.       

Perhaps by the end of summer, the LITS team will want to enter into the Annual Book Cart Drill Team World Championship.

ella Fall 2009 Course Sites Available

Jun 05, 2009 by Leigh Mantle

Special for Mount Holyoke College Faculty

LITS is pleased to announce that the Fall 2009 course sites have been added to ella and student rosters are being updated regularly based on data from the student information system.  The course sites have been created early this year in response to faculty who expressed interest in having them available earlier in the summer.  Please remember that LITS Liaisons are available to faculty for consultation in preparing courses.  Best of luck with your fall planning!