Virginia State University library specialist shares his appreciation of VFH’s edUi conference
By Jane Kulow
More than fifteen years ago Sherod Moses was working on his master’s degree in mathematics at Virginia State University (VSU). He took a course in hypertext markup language (HTML) and liked it. His interest in using HTML to design websites soon led him down a new career path. “Once I took that [course], that was all she wrote. I showed some of my freelance work to Dr. Hadi Moadab, who had designed VSU’s first website. He hired me as our first webmaster for the entire university. I’ve been doing this ever since.”
Moses spoke to us by phone about his work and how he came to attend edUi, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities’ annual conference for web professionals at colleges, universities, museums, and libraries. The interview has been condensed and edited.
VFH: What did your first website for VSU look like?
Moses: It was pretty good for that time, designed mostly in HTML, before content management systems became available. It was very easy to maneuver, and I got a good response from students and parents who used the site. At the time, the website ranked number thirteen out of all the HBCUs [historically black colleges and universities] across the country.
VFH: What does your job entail now?
Moses: I am the VSU library systems specialist, so I manage any technology for the library. I design the website, manage over 150 computer labs, keep the library staff computers running, and serve as the bridge between the university information technology department and the library.
VFH: What sort of challenges do you face, providing services to faculty, staff, students, and other library users?
Moses: That’s the challenge, right there, providing services to keep them all happy. It’s a diverse range and age of people that I serve, both for the university and everyone who comes to the library for information. I try to please 80 percent of everybody—faculty, staff, students, everyone using the library.
VFH: How did you learn of edUi?
Moses: I found out about the conference through a colleague in the Richmond Academic Library Consortium web user group. I’ve been going every year since.
VFH: Which edUi topics have been useful to you?
Moses: Understanding responsive design, for one.
VFH: What is that?
Moses: Responsive design means one site can be viewed on all different platforms, from desktop to cell phone. Also, beyond tools that have helped me, I’ve met industry people who can help the university. Since Adobe products are now only available through the cloud, it was very hard for VSU to understand how to purchase cloud services that used to be purchased as software. I was able to connect with the Adobe representative at the conference and share their information with the VSU people in purchasing.
VFH: Can you identify a standout moment from edUi?
VFH: Why does a good user interface matter? Why does it matter that you do a good job?
Moses: It matters because, number one, it’s PR for the university. We have to make the university look good, represent the university well. We also have to keep up with the trends. Things change, tech changes, and the kids are more updated than the older people. So you have to keep up with the daily trends, the looks, and be well represented at the same time. Because we are in higher education, we have to be professional, but we have to be cool, too. Every calendar year is equal to ten years in technology. I personally thank edUi. For me, it brings the latest trends and helps me understand how to do the latest trends as well.
VFH: Does it help that edUi focuses on institutions?
Moses: Yes. It brings all our peers together to see what everybody’s doing. Especially in the workshops, we work on each other’s problems, and bounce off each other’s ideas. In our field, it’s hard to get ideas from the corporate world that will work for the library.
edUi gives me more. Other conferences stopped providing interesting things. I felt like I was just as far along as the presenters. With edUi, I feel like I learn a lot more each year. That’s something about edUi I love; I always learn something. That means a lot to me.
About the Author
Jane Kulow is assistant to the president of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. The 2014 edUi conference will be held from September 29 to October 1 in Richmond.