MLANET Policy Manual
The MLANET Editorial Board (MEB) created the first edition of the MLANET Policy and Procedure Manual as a working document to detail applicable policies, workflows and responsibilities for MLANET content, services and procedures. The Manual is to be applied in conjunction with the MLA Style Manual and the Health Summit Working Group's Criteria for Evaluating the Quality of Health Information on the Internet. Among the Web style and design references which the MEB recommends are the Yale [Web] Style Manual, and Jakob Nielsen's useit.com site.
The policies established herein are intended to support the provision of accurate and timely, high-quality information about MLA, its units, and affiliated groups, to the association's membership and non-members, via MLANET.
The MEB will continually develop this document over time, as MLANET and the technologies and member-provided content driving it, grow and evolve.
The MLANET Editorial Board (MEB)
The main goals of the MEB and this Manual and companion works are twofold:
Due to the thorough representation on the MEB from across the association, as well as ex-officio relationships between the MLANET Editor and other groups, the MEB will work with all of its constituencies to ensure MLANET's overall quality.
The MLANET Editor invites questions, comments, and suggestions pertaining to this Manual.
The MEB invites and encourages current and prospective (i.e. student) voting MLA members to electronically submit materials for placement within MLANET. In addition, the MEB will consider submissions from members of other library and like associations and organizations.
As new MLANET content and content areas (i.e. subjects or types of information) are identified by the MEB and individual members, the MEB will target content solicitation to certain units within, and affiliates of, the association, including sections, SIGs, committees, and chapters.
Original content and suggestions for links to and quotations from non-MLA published content (including proper attribution) should be submitted directly to the MLANET Editor, electronically. The MLANET Editor will accept virus-free digital content whether marked up in HTML, or not. Other acceptable formats include Microsoft Word, Rich Text Format (RTF), or plain text. Portable Document Format (PDF) files will not be accepted, as content may require editing prior to MLANET placement. Authors should be aware that any necessary encoding for presentation on MLANET may cause their content to be rendered differently than intended, depending on the browser used for viewing. Authors are encouraged to include desired rendering intent information (e.g. text color and size) in their submissions.
There are two MLANET content classes, each with its own physical location. Central content is located within MLANET's main site architecture (http://www.mlanet.org/*.*) on MLA headquarters' primary public access Web server (www.mlanet.org). Global content is located within the site architecture of any MLA unit (section, SIG, committee, task force, etc.) or affiliated chapter or other group (e.g. http://www2.mc.duke.edu/mlacds/), on any Web server (e.g. www2.mc.duke.edu). It may include documents and resources produced by and for organizations that are completely separate from MLA (i.e. as linked from MLA-affiliated or allied sites).
The MEB believes that any content, regardless of class, is of potential use to the association at large (and/or other MLANET user populations such as health care practitioners and the general public), and will make its class decision based on the content's subject matter and existing content areas. Links will be provided from central to global content, primarily by means of a subject list.
The MEB urges authors and contributors to review MLANET's current content areas prior to submission, and suggest any desired location(s), or need for new content areas, for submitted materials. The MEB will make careful and thoughtful deliberations, and reserves the final decision regarding where MLANET content will be placed.
All content identified as central that is produced by anyone affiliated with MLA is subject to the MLANET Editorial Board's policies and procedures and must be reviewed by the MLANET Editor prior to placement. The MEB will decide whether central content will be available to the public or members only, using criteria such as:
Please note that well-established procedures already exist for the submission and review of information intended for the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, the MLA News, BibKits/DocKits, the Annual Meeting and continuing education opportunities. Unit or affiliate representatives with questions about where to direct submissions related to any of these areas should consult the MEB for assistance. The MLANET Editor will work with other MLA editors to identify published content that should be reproduced within MLANET.
Global content produced by and for individual MLA sections, chapters, and SIGs is not necessarily subject to the MLANET editorial process (though it is subject to any applicable standards that MLA espouses; see the first paragraph of section 3.2 below). It should generally be submitted to the appropriate Web site editor, either directly or through the MEB member most closely connected to the author by unit affiliation.
Documents and other resources delivered through the central or global MLANET represent not only the author/creator, but also MLA, and are thus subject to the same restrictions, liabilities, and quality standards as are uniformly applied to association publications. Material should be coherent, well-written, logically presented, properly linked from and to other related documents, and should inspire confidence in, and respect for, MLA. MLANET is an official MLA communications medium. All content is expected to meet established standards for accuracy and presentation as outlined in the sources mentioned in the introduction to this document (especially the MLA Style Manual).
All Web servers presenting MLA information, including information about MLA or for MLA clients, customers, and corporate partners, are functionally part of MLANET. All MLANET content, whether central or global, should interconnect and interact as seamlessly as possible. All content that is perceived as relating to MLANET will be rigorously evaluated to ensure conformity to applicable MLANET standards for content, organization, and graphic identity, including
The MEB encourages authors and contributors to solicit advice and review from colleagues prior to submitting materials. It is recommended that units and affiliates individually establish small teams for content review and vetting prior to any dissemination.
The MEB strongly recommends that anyone creating or recommending content for any unit or affiliate site consider the Criteria and/or other resources such as the Health on the Net (HON) Code prior to labeling content with any reference to the Medical Library Association.
Depending on its nature, member-authored content accepted for MLANET placement may be considered the opinions or views of the author only, and not of the Medical Library Association. Such content may be so labeled.
Central content automation
Automated technologies, such as server-side includes (SSI) and cascading style sheets (CSS) will be used where possible to maintain the appearance of the central MLANET content through design and style changes. Headquarters staff will index MLANET for searching via the headquarters-maintained search engine. Link checks will be run and results reviewed by the MLANET Editor. MLA headquarters staff will maintain links within central MLANET content.
MLA units and affiliates are encouraged, but not required, to use Web automation technology for their global content. Consultation on using automation will be available to units residing on the main MLANET server. For units using other servers, best practice links and documentation is available from the technical section of MLANET.
All global content residing on the main MLANET server will be indexed and link-checked as per individual hosting contracts. The MEB expects global remote content (i.e., hosted elsewhere, not subject to contract) to be maintained by the responsible party. If the MEB determines that maintenance has lapsed on such content, it reserves the right to remove any connections from central content (with notification to the lapsed content contributor). Lapses in content maintenance may occur due to content responsibility changing hands, general deprecation, or planned obsolescence.
Authors and contributors are particularly encouraged to apply expiration dates to all information that has short-term validity or utility. The MEB will work with content providers to confirm content currency, relevance, etc. and will remove from MLANET access to any information that manifestly fails evaluation testing.
MLA will archive all MLANET content stored on its servers that directly relates to the Medical Library Association and its contracting units and affiliates. The date range of publicly available materials is left to the discretion of the MEB, but reasonable effort will be made to provide complete access to certain published materials (such as BMLA abstracts) and formerly time-sensitive materials (such as Annual Meeting Web sites).
MLA staff are empowered to set hosting contract terms and conditions for archiving materials on behalf of MLA units and affiliated organizations. MLA may elect to warehouse certain deprecated, obsolete, or otherwise expired content offline (i.e. removed from public access).
MLA will perform backups on all MLANET content hosted at www.mlanet.org. The MEB recommends that global remote content should be backed up at least once per month by content hosts. Authors and contributors are advised to keep copies of all MLANET content within their purview on local storage media (e.g. hard or floppy disk, or network server).
MLA will operate a staging location to allow the MEB and other appropriate individuals limited review access to certain content prior to general public or members-only access.
Copyright and disclaimer
MLA adheres to an official MLANET Disclaimer and Notice of Copyright policy. All MLA Web authors and contributors are expected to act in full compliance with all provisions of this policy, as both central and global MLA-related sites are covered. Authors and contributors may append a statement such as
© 200x, the Medical Library Association
to their content; however, the copyright is in effect regardless of whether a copyright notice is appended.
Authors are reminded to post appropriate disclaimers regarding copyright control, as well as the potential limitations, and conditions and/or liability implications for information provided on an official MLA unit or affiliate site.
Authors and contributors are advised, when submitting materials, to include a tentative expiration date for their content. The MEB shall determine expiration dates for documents that do not include any expiration suggestions.
The MEB will not place any content labeled 'under construction' on the central MLANET, and recommends against the use of such labels for any global content (see 3.2 above).
The MEB sees 'digital advertising' as a potentially important source of revenue for MLA and, with headquarters staff and the Board, is pursuing the sale of ad space on MLANET. In principle, the MEB also supports allowing MLA's individual units and affiliates to purchase advertising space for their unit within central MLANET content.
The MEB will consider requests from MLA's individual units and affiliates to obtain advertising space for their unit within central MLANET content.
Materials submitted for MLANET placement will generally be HTML encoded by MLA headquarters staff or member volunteers. The MLANET Editor will accept already marked-up central content with the understanding that MLA reserves the right to apply its own standards, templates, and techniques. Retrofitting of this nature may result in variations in content rendering.
Design and architecture
The MEB will work with headquarters staff to maintain the design (i.e., 'interface', or 'look and feel') of MLANET, including graphics standards and document layout, as well as site architecture, including directory structure, labeling, navigation, and description (e.g. metadata).
All central MLANET content will conform to, and maintain support for, one version prior to the latest W3C HTML specification. The MEB recommends that all global MLANET content, whether 'static' or database-driven, conform to one version prior to the latest W3C markup specification as well. No adoption of an XML specification for MLANET will occur prior to 2001.
For indexing and retrieval purposes, all central MLANET content should include HTML-encoded metadata (e.g. Dublin Core 1.1 ), e.g. by the end of the association year 2000-2001.
MLA units and affiliates are encouraged, but not required, to use Dublin Core metadata for their global content. Units residing on the main MLANET server may consult the MLANET Editor for metadata help.
The lowest common denominator Web browser generation to which MLANET will generally cater is Netscape Navigator 4.7 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.x. Content requiring browser capability exceeding the 4.x generation will be labeled as such, and may have an alternative version that is more easily accessible to older browsers.
MLANET employs some client-side techniques for rendering interactivity, multimedia, and special document formats. Authors and contributors should be mindful that parts of their target audience might not have access to plug-ins, helper applications, and other packages upon which their content may be dependent. The MEB encourages 'value-added' use of freely available (i.e. downloadable), rather than proprietary (i.e. available only for purchase), client-side technologies where possible. No client-side interactivity that is not compliant with 3.x browsers will be accepted.
Users will be alerted prior to accessing any MLANET content that relies on cookie technology.
MLANET may contain moving images and sound of the following formats. To inquire about using a format not listed below, please contact the MLANET Editor.
Any content requiring RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, Shockwave, or other browser plug-ins or helper applications will be labeled as such, along with software acquisition instructions.
In addition to HTML, MLANET may contain documents in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). Due to the spread of computer viruses, any content submitted in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) formats will be virus-screened and converted to HTML or PDF for further virus protection.
MLA uses a standard set of CGI scripts that can be used in conjunction with central content. Global content providers residing on MLA's servers may contact headquarters staff regarding the use of MLA-operated and other server-side software. MLA headquarters will accept acquisition/purchase recommendations for CGI software, with the understanding that MLA prefers freely available open source Perl CGI scripts where available.
Authors and contributors are advised that CGI support requires staff support and budget funding; MLA is not able to approve all requests for CGI support. The MEB will entertain individual member/library offers to host specific CGIs for definite projects for finite periods of time (e.g. as proof of concept).
MLANET content will be periodically assessed for its accessibility and usability (e.g. as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative ). Every reasonable effort will be made to ensure that every person who seeks MLANET content is able to retrieve that content in a useable manner.
The MEB and headquarters staff strive to provide responsive service to the MLANET needs of the membership. The MEB's Section Council and Chapter Council liaisons deal most directly with section and chapter concerns. Section/SIG Web content, whether hosted by the association directly or linked from central MLANET documents, is subject to the same restrictions, liabilities and quality standards as are uniformly applied to the entire MLANET site. While not a requirement, chapters are encouraged to apply robust quality control measures to their sites as well. It is the MEB's position that only quality-controlled content is worthy of connection to MLANET.
MLA sections, chapters, and SIGs are invited to publish and distribute information pertinent to their missions, goals, and objectives through the entire range of electronic service options provided through MLANET.
MLANET services to sections and SIGs include:
The MEB appreciates the rights and needs of sections and SIGs to establish unique identities within the association. Its members will assist sections and SIGs (as well as chapters, should they inquire) in their compliance with these policies and promote active and ongoing dialogue in order to ensure high quality MLANET content.
Public vs. member-only access
MLANET includes services intended for members only in addition to those available to non-member health information professionals and the general public.
Sections and SIGs are strongly encouraged to take advantage of MLA's competitive pricing for the provision of hosting services. They may alternately maintain official Web sites on global servers and provide the MEB with relevant URLs for appropriate linking. Please note that policies identified herein or linked from this document are applicable, regardless of where official section or SIG Web sites are hosted.
The MEB works in collaboration with section and SIG (and chapter, as appropriate) Web authors to provide visitors to the MLANET Web site with a consistently excellent experience in their use of official MLA Web-based services. Technical assistance is available to all section and SIG Web authors whether or not the association provides official Web site hosting services to the unit. In addition, the MEB is happy to consult with chapters regarding technical and other issues related to their sites.
Technical services to sections, SIGs, and chapters include:
Web authors may contact the MLANET Editor or the MLA Director of Research and Information Systems directly for technical support.
Style requirements and quality standards
As stated above, all MLANET content is expected to meet established standards for accuracy and presentation as outlined in the MLA Style Manual.
MLA supports the creative efforts of section, SIG, and chapter Web authors in their design and deployment of official MLA-related sites. In order to provide minimal consistency between the various parts of the aggregate MLANET Web site, however, section and SIG Web authors are expected, and chapter authors encouraged to comply with the following guidelines:
In addition to the evaluation section, section, SIG, and chapter authors are strongly urged to ensure that content is reviewed for accuracy prior to public posting. The MEB reserves the right to review unit site pages as they are published to ensure that the above-noted guidelines are adhered to, and that adequate attention has been given to ensuring reasonable accuracy and timeliness of page content. The enforcement of guidelines and standards for accuracy and timeliness is not intended to be punitive but rather to reinforce positive perceptions of MLANET as a reliable resource for quality information.
In compliance with the global content section, unit authors will be notified when guideline compliance and/or accuracy/timeliness problems arise. Authors will be expected to make the necessary corrections, within a reasonable and negotiated time frame, or risk suppression of pages or de-linking.
See copyright and disclaimers above.
The MEB has adopted the Health Summit Working Group's policy, available at <http://www.mitretek.org/publications/hiti/criteria.pdf> or here on on MLANET (PDF, 146KB) .
For further information, contact Kate Corcoran, firstname.lastname@example.org, 312.419.9094 x12.
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2007 July 23