Electronic calendar now available

This spring marks the last time the paper version of the campus calendar will be distributed around campus. The 35-page document, distributed to approximately 350 people, will be a thing of the past. Instead, after five years of meetings and strategy and programming, the campus calendar is now electronically available.

For the last few years, the compilation and distribution of the campus calendar have been handled through the University Conferences office, and Conference Assistant Coral Keepler has been gathering information on events and inputting the data. After the software was developed for an electronic version of the calendar, Keepler did much of the testing for the program. She still receives the information, but now inputs it directly into the electronic version.

One of the best features of the calendar being on-line is that it now can be updated daily. "Before," said Keepler, "the calendar went out in the fall, winter and spring. Now on the Web, we can input all the time and update it on a daily basis."

According to Susan Mistretta, indirect computer support coordinator in the Information Technology Division (ITD), one reason it took so long to move to a paperless calendar its that it took a long time to get an application written to handle calendar events. Issues such as how to handle repetitive events and cancellations were considered. Data management issues and technical problems with figuring out how to provide software for access had to be dealt with. But a great many people wanted to see the project succeed who "had a vision of a calendar that was electronically available," said Mistretta. Those people included Bill Baites in the Concerts Division, Ann Hyman in the Dobbs Center, Karen Salisbury and Keepler in the Conferences Office, and others.

Connectivity was a major issue as well, and one that was partially solved by the ResNet project, which brought connectivity to Turman Residential Center, where the University Conference offices are located, said Mistretta. Most of the campus is now on ethernet, and most computers have software for Web browsers, such as Netscape or Mosaic, that allow them to view a document such as the calendar.

The calendar, which can be accessed through the Emory home page on the World Wide Web, or by going directly to <http://www.emory.edu/CALENDAR/calendar.html>, is now in Phase I, according to Mistretta and Keepler. The next iteration of the calendar will allow links to other documents, said Mistretta; other features will be determined by community response.

Keepler is in the process of putting together a meeting of people who receive the paper calendar "to show them what we do with the information, what type of information is critical for the listing to appear the way that people want to see it." Approximately 50 people are currently submitting calendar information to Keepler; she would like to see that number increase.

The electronic distribution of the campus calendar is part of a larger discussion of how the University can better disseminate information. An ad hoc committee, named by Provost Billy Frye, is addressing the issue of developing a community e-mail system that also would include electronic bulletin boards and increased use of list servs and on-line discussion groups.

Comments and suggestions concerning the on-line calendar, as well as calendar entries, should be sent to Keepler at ckeeple@ resfac.emory.edu.

-- Nancy M. Spitler

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