Ellis discusses “Culture and Cloud” at the February InfoForum

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John Ellis, Deputy CIO, Enterprise Applications, Services, & Infrastructure

“I’ve been thinking about our cloud transformation,” says LITS Deputy CIO John Ellis, presenting to a large audience of Emory Library employees during this week’s InfoForum, “and I wanted to have a discussion with you.”

Change is coming

The planned transition of Emory from locally-based storage and infrastructure to a cloud-based approach is a significant change in the way the organization operates.

The catch is that organizations like Emory are resistant to change. Ellis pointed out that according to Gartner Research, 46% of survey respondents say that culture is the biggest barrier to making this digital transformation.

However, it appears this change is inevitable. Industry trends researched by Gartner state that by 2022, cloud services will be essential for 90% of business innovation. By 2025, 80% of enterprises will have shut down their traditional data centers.

As a result of this change, organizations must alter their model for responsibility. By contracting with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon becomes responsible for infrastructure, storage, networking. The organization (Emory) now must focus the entirety of its responsibility on the data itself, especially regarding data security.

States Ellis, “It will take different types of skill sets to manage this data. The skill sets we used to need to maintain our infrastructure are mostly going away.”

New approaches to leadership and employee contributions

The challenge then becomes for leaders to govern differently and individuals to contribute differently.

According to Ellis, leaders must quit trying to suppress under-the-radar IT efforts and instead let the business needs lead the effort. In this way, leaders should have a mindset of partnering and supporting these efforts.

Individual contributors should work harder to eliminate silos and unique practices and instead adopt more common practices, more automation, and team structures that are more agile.

How do we get there? How do we encourage change?

Typically, a project of this magnitude would need to be undertaken after a lengthy planning process. Ellis espouses that it is more important to simply start the process in small increments, always be agile, and take a posture of action over analysis.

“These are iterative hacks to our culture that we can make one small piece at a time.” Ellis encourages his people to take risks and to not let perfection get in the way of progress. In other words, don’t waste time over-analyzing things. Just move forward.

Ellis’ hope is that by preaching this mantra to his managers, this different way of thinking about work will trickle into the teams doing the work.

Amazon leadership principles

Ellis believes Emory should borrow some of the principles that Amazon uses for its own business practices. The two elements that most interest him are Bias for Action and Disagree and Commit.

Bias for Action states that speed matters in business and that decisions and actions that are easily reversible do not need extensive study. Amazon places value on calculated risk taking. Ellis believes that we slow our speed by getting leadership involved in two-way decisions. “Just make the decision and move on,” says Ellis. If the decision doesn’t work out, go in the other direction.

Disagree and Commit suggests that leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree with them. Leaders should have conviction, tenacity, and never compromise for the sake of social cohesion. With that understanding, however, once the decision is made, leaders must commit wholly. They must not undermine the effort behind the scenes.

“It takes time to makes these changes but they are not rocket science. Successful organizations all over are adopting these practices. We just have to start,” says Ellis. “If we stop doing some [of our old practices] and start doing some of these new things, I think it will come to us.”

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DEI Committee gives conference recommendations

Looking for diversity, equity, and inclusion related sessions and conferences? Here are some DEI Committee recommendations on what to attend this year:

IDEAL ’19: Advancing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility in Libraries & Archives 
August 6–7, 2019, Cincinnati OH

From the conference website: “IDEAL, formerly the National Diversity in Libraries Conference, aims to foster awareness and appreciation of workplace diversity issues through the exploration of exemplary practice, contemporary theory, thought leadership, and strategy development for all those in the academic and public library, archives, and museum sectors.”

ACRL 2019: Recasting the Narrative 
April 10-13, 2019, Cleveland OH

This year’s keynotes include notable experts on diversity, equity, and inclusion such as award-winning journalist Michele Norris, MacArthur fellow and novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, and renowned cartoonist Alison Bechdel. The conference also features invited presentations from library professionals and academics addressing critical issues in social justice in libraries.

ALA Annual Conference 2019
June 20 – 25, 2019, Washington, D.C.

Although the ALA conference schedule has not yet been published, we already know there will be a few interesting DEI related opportunities amidst the chaos. LITA will be hosting a Diversity, Equity, and Justice Panel, and there will be a Diversity Poster Session.

Subscribe to the community of practice listserv

We wish to encourage folks to sign-up for our new “community of practice” mailing list (DEI-COP). We decided to create a secondary listserv so that there would be a space where colleagues can share diversity-related articles, events, opportunities, etc. This is a great opportunity to stay informed of these issues if you do not have time to serve on the DEI Committee. If you do become a member, we’ll add you to our committee’s primary listserv.


You can automatically subscribe to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Community of Practice Listserv by sending an email with a blank subject line and the following single line in the body (i.e., no signatures) from the account to which you wish to receive messages:

To: listserv [at] listserv [dot] cc [dot] emory [dot] edu
Body: subscribe DEI-COP

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Green Notes for February 2019

February is Water Awareness Month.

There are a number of exciting opportunities to learn more about by touring the Recycling Center and Water Hub, tasting at the Symposium, enjoying the Farmer’s Market, and getting ready for spring by placing your order with Oxford Farms for weekly produce.

Monday, February 18 (12:00-1:00 pm) AND Friday, March 29 (3:00-4:00 pm): Recycling Center Tour – Please sign-up.  This is an impressive operation.

Monday, February 25 (12:00-1:00 pm) AND Thursday, March 21 (12:00-1:00 pm): Zero Landfill Waste training (which makes you eligible to become a Zero Waste Ambassador). Please sign-up.

Wednesday, February 27: Sustainable Events Symposium: Are you in charge of managing events by arranging for food? These vendors are in absolute support of Emory’s sustainability goals, are member of “America to Go,” and actively seek to help event planners have zero waste (no landfill) events. Attend the Symposium at Ackerman Hall, in the Carlos Museum on February 27 from 2:00 to 3:30 pm (brought to you by the Office of Sustainability). Please RSVP to emorysustainability [at] emory [dot] edu.   (Don’t eat a big lunch!)

Water Hub Tours are every Monday at 10 am and every Friday at 9:30 am.

Farmers Market Dates:   February 19, February 26, March 5, March 19,  March 26, April 2, April 9, April 16, April 30, May 7 and always 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Cox Hall Bridge.

It’s time to get your Oxford Farm CSA box (Community Supported Agriculture). Choices include a Full Season (28 weeks of fresh produce and a 10% discount), Spring, Summer or Fall.  Check out the dates and prices – AND sign up.

March 26 Earth Festival – mark your calendars for this celebratory event.

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Jina DuVernay, Visiting Archivist for African American Collections, Rose Library

“I feel honored to be at Emory, and I am working with a great group of people.” – Jina DuVernay

Jina DuVernay is the latest visiting archivist in the Rose Library. Before coming to Emory, she spent three years as a special collections librarian at Alabama State University. She spent several years working for the Department of Labor and the Driver’s License Agency for the State of Alabama. She also worked for the City of Long Beach.

Originally from Long Beach, CA, Jina moved to Alabama when she got tired of southern California traffic. Jina earned her bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Troy University, her master’s degree in liberal arts from Auburn University at Montgomery, and her master’s degree of library and information science from the University of Alabama.

Jina has family that lives in Atlanta, and she enjoys spending time with them. She loves movies and reading.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated with African-American studies,” says Jina. “I was always curious about learning the things they didn’t teach us in school. I feel honored to be at Emory, and I am working with a great group of people.”

You can reach her at jina [dot] duvernay [at] emory [dot] edu.

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Matt Goggans, Systems Engineer II, Systems Engineering

“I really enjoy the environment, the expertise, and the people I’ve been working with.” – Matt Goggans

Matt Goggans recently joined Steve Siegelman‘s Systems Engineering team as a systems engineer II to focus on Window-based systems engineering. Matt spent the last year working as a contractor at Emory, first as a systems administrator for Campus Services, and then as a systems engineer for LITS. He also spent four years as the director of technology for Oak Mountain Academy.

Born in Baton Rouge, LA, Matt was raised in Louisiana, Virginia, and Georgia. He attended UGA, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in communication studies.

When he’s not working, Matt enjoys mixed martial arts (MMA), HAM radio (KM4HQZ), and hiking.

Says Matt regarding his new position in systems engineering, “I really enjoy the environment, the expertise, and the people I’ve been working with.”

You can reach him at mgoggan [at] emory [dot] edu.

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Alex Huynh, Manager, IT Data Solutions

Alex Huynh loves working with non-profits and is an avid tennis player.

Alex Huynh (pronounced WIN) is the new manager of the data solutions team. He spent nearly three years as manager of data science at Sun Trust. He also spent 16 years in various IT-related roles in the hospitality industry in Florida.

Born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam, Alex earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Temple University.

Away from work, Alex loves working with non-profits and is an avid tennis player.

“The key for me was the culture of this team,” says Alex, regarding his decision to come to Emory. “The work they do is very rewarding in terms of how it benefits society.”

You can reach him at phuong [dot] huynh [at] emory [dot] edu.

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LITS recent headlines and upcoming events

Headlines & Events graphic banner

Recent LITS headlines:

Upcoming LITS events:

(go HERE for more information for each event)

  • February 18 – Exhibit: “Framing Shadows: Portraits of African American Nannies from Emory’s Langmuir Photography Collection” (Opening), All Day, Level 3 Rotunda and Corridor, Woodruff Library
  • February 19 – Exhibit: “Building Emory’s African American Collections” (Temporary Closing), All Day, Schatten Gallery, Woodruff Library
  • February 19 – Event (Film screening): Paywall: The Business of Scholarhip, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Jones Room, Woodruff Library
  • February 21 – Event: IT Briefing, 10:15 am – noon, 4th Floor Auditorium, NDB
  • February 23 – Event: “The Raymond Danowski Poetry Library Reading Series Presents: Richard Blanco,” 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm, Schwartz Center
  • March 1 – Exhibit: “Building Emory’s African American Collections” (Reopens), All Day, Schatten Gallery, Woodruff Library
  • March 6 – Event: “Innovative Collections: DIY,” 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Visual Arts Building
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