New Meeting Experience in Microsoft Teams

Did you know? Teams has made some improvements to the meetings interface, including:

  • Meetings open in a separate Teams window
  • Meeting controls are in a more convenient location
  • A new “large gallery” view is available so you can see up to 49 people at once
  • …and more!

But…for now, these improvements won’t be pushed to you automatically — you have to opt in to try them out. Steps to enabling the “new meeting experience” on your desktop client:

  1. Select your profile pic at the top of the Teams app, then Settings > General. (General should be what’s showing when you open Settings, so you probably won’t have to select it.)
  2. Select Turn on new meeting experience.
  3. Restart Teams by doing the following:
    1. Right-click or Cmd-click the Teams icon in the Windows task bar or Mac System Tray.
    2. Select Quit.
    3. Start Teams again like you normally would.

Check out more details in this post from Microsoft. As always, contact LTDS via Inform if you have any questions!

Using Microsoft Planner to organize your projects

A few years ago, many of us in the library discovered Trello and began using it to help our projects stay on track and organized. It’s been a wonderful tool, but unfortunately for us, they recently went to a new pricing setup that prevents the library from using it going forward.

Fortunately, this happened just as the library was starting to move toward using the Office 365 suite of applications provided by the university. One of the applications in the suite is Microsoft Planner, a project planning tool that is very similar to Trello. LTDS is encouraging library staff to make the transition to Planner as you have new projects to track. Several library groups have already started using Planner, including LTDS (unit), ACE (unit), and the Revised Common Lectionary group (project). You might want to use it as a department, a committee/task force, a project group, or any other configuration of people. It’s up to you!

Don’t worry — we’re here to help you get started! Simply submit an Inform to get the process rolling. LTDS must do the initial setup for you at this time, and then you’ll have free reign to set up your tasks (cards) within your plan (board). LTDS is also available to provide a basic overview of the Planner interface.

LTDS June Update Session

Thanks to all who attended our June update session yesterday! Jodie presented some web statistics trivia questions, and a good time was had by all. You can find the slides in the LTDS SharePoint site in our Training Materials and Presentations folder (VUnetID login required). If you have any follow-up questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Recent Improvements to Television News Archive search

The Vanderbilt Television News Archive has been recording, preserving, and providing access to television news broadcasts of the national networks since August 5, 1968. There are currently over 1.1 million broadcast records in the system, and all are searchable via the VTNA website.

In recent years, a persistent theme in user feedback has been slow search result retrieval times, which impedes a user’s ability to conduct research and find the information they need, leading to a frustrating experience. Recently, we were able to improve the architecture of the search portion of the website. By querying a different data set and utilizing search indexes, we were able to improve search result retrieval times for the majority of searches. In most cases, retrieval time has been reduced by roughly 70%, sometimes more! We were also able to improve the relevancy ranking sort option, helping users find relevant broadcast clips faster.

The Television News Archive website is one of many systems the LTDS team supports.

Report from WordCamp US 2018

WordCamp US, the national WordPress conference, was back in Nashville for a second year on December 7-9, 2018. Jodie and Scott from LTDS attended — here are some highlights.

WCUS 2018 conference badge
I attended several great sessions on topics such as project management for developers, ARIA/accessibility, and code review. Tracy Apps gave a very compelling talk on diversity and inclusion, and how that must play a huge role in user experience work. Lara Schenck hand-drew her slide deck for her talk on CSS algorithms — they’re worth a glance, even if you don’t understand the content! 🙂 I felt right at home in a lightning talk from a former Drupal developer comparing Drupal with WordPress — in the end, he asked us to just all get along, since both are great platforms with their own strengths. John Blackbourn introduced us to Git Bisect, a debugging tool that uses a binary search to help you pinpoint where a bug was introduced into your codebase.


The sessions that I attended had some interesting topics. I went to two sessions that dealt with WordPress’ new block editor, Gutenberg, which will be replacing the classic text editor for creating posts in new versions.  Gary Pendergast talked about how the flexibility of Gutenberg’s block system will help users create more exciting sites and posts without the use of custom code.  In Jason Bahl’s session, he demonstrated how Gutenberg was used in an innovative way on a state government WordPress site he helped build. I also enjoyed Dwayne McDaniel’s talk “Nobody Wants a Website. They Want Results!“. Among other things, he discussed the importance of ensuring that a website keeps true to the reason it was made, and that that doesn’t get overshadowed by the design and building of the website. Basically, he maintains, a cool website is no good if it doesn’t lead to the results that were intended.

Library website: now with more error checking

Yesterday morning, we received several reports that the library website wasn’t functioning properly — there were missing menus and scary error messages. No one on our team had made any changes to the site, though — so what happened?

Well, over in another part of the university, the server that hosts the university calendar system went offline. The library website pulls our events lists from this system every time you visit a library homepage. So, when the library website tried to find the events lists, there was nothing there…so the library website said, STOP! I cannot do anything else until I find the events! (not unlike my 2-year-old kid 😅), and it stopped loading the page midway-through.

Once we identified the issue, we removed all events boxes as a temporary measure. Later in the day, we were able to put in a code fix that tells the library website to keep on going, even if it doesn’t find any events. (Ditto Recent Library News items, which pulls from the Library News Online site.)

Even better, we were able to share our solution with the university’s web department, who then implemented the fix in the main university website. More stable sites for all!

Using Lastpass for improved password security

It’s that time of year for me — VUIT is sending me an email every day saying it’s time to change my e-password. Thankfully, I have a great tool to help manage my passwords and make them more secure — and you can, too!

Lastpass is a free and easy-to-use password management tool that runs right in your browser. It is encrypted and secure — Lastpass is not able to access your passwords. (Learn more about how it works.)

The most secure passwords are unique, long, random-character strings that are not found in the dictionary. Most of us haven’t mastered the memorization of a zillion random-character strings. Thankfully, Lastpass has! It will store all of your passwords in a secure vault that is only accessible on your local machine. When you visit a site that requires a login, Lastpass will fill in your credentials automatically. You can even set it to go a step further and log you in as soon as you land on the page. Magic! And when you create a new account on a site, Lastpass will offer to generate a secure password for you. It will then save your new password in your password vault.

There are some other nice features too:

  • Form fills: Shop online much? Save your credit card information in your vault and have it auto-fill at checkout on any shopping site. Apologies in advance to your wallet.
  • Secure notes: This is a place to securely store and access other information you might need easy access to, such as social security numbers or passwords for things that aren’t websites (software, Windows, etc.).
  • Sharing: You can securely share passwords with other Lastpass users. This is great for households who share a login for things like utilities and Netflix. Never send passwords via email!
  • Security challenge: This feature analyzes the security of your vault and offers recommendations on how to improve your overall security, such as not reusing passwords and creating stronger passwords to replace weak ones.
  • Export: You can easily export your passwords at any time. This is useful not only if you plan to stop using Lastpass in the future, but also if you want to print out all of your passwords and store them with your other important financial documents, such as your will.

So stop reusing that same old password, and give Lastpass a try!

How to keep up with the LTDS blog

We hope you’ve found our blog to be helpful since we launched it last month! Here are some ways to keep up with new posts:

Heard Alert
LTDS Blog on Heard Alert
LTDS Blog on Heard Alert

There is a box in the right sidebar of Heard Alert titled “Latest News from LTDS” (see attached screenshot). It contains the latest 3 posts from the blog with the newest post at the top of the list.

RSS Feed

The main RSS feed URL is: You can put this into your favorite RSS reader and be notified of new posts almost instantly.

Interested in a particular category, tag, or author? The blog has an RSS feed for each of those, too! See this article for details. If the article looks like Greek to you, submit an Inform ticket and we can help you get the right feed URL for the content you want.


You can use the RSS feed to set up an email alert. Free third-party services such as Blogtrottr and IFTTT provide RSS-to-email functionality.

Interested in receiving an email straight from the blog for every new post? Let us know! If there is enough interest, we will add this feature to the blog, eliminating the need to use a third-party service.


Email Jodie or submit an Inform ticket!

Project Update: Web Refresh, with Staff Directory Bonus

The library website is getting a new look! The Web Refresh Team, including Jodie and Matt from LTDS, is working with Vanderbilt’s Digital Strategy and Development (formerly Web Communications) to integrate the current standard Vanderbilt web templates into the library website. To get a taste of what those templates look like, check out the HR, Registrar, or Police Department sites. The refresh will roll out in conjunction with the new ILS this summer.

a sketch of a library website

The Web Refresh Team has been hard at work since November. We have viewed and analyzed many peer library websites, analyzed past feedback on our website, and even had some fun sketching out our own visions of a library website! We are currently gathering more feedback via an online survey and focus groups. We are also preparing to make a copy the current website so we can start working on the new site without interrupting service to the current site.

Bonus: The Staff Directory is also getting some TLC! Some of the improvements will be implemented ahead of the refresh, such as improving parts of the search and browse. Others will roll out with the refreshed website, such as more useful lists of branches/departments with improved layouts, and enhanced pages for individual staff members. Stay tuned for more information on this sub-project.

If you have any questions about these projects, please comment below or talk to any member of the Web Refresh Team.