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Friday, July 11, 2014
 

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New Public Events Calendar launches

A redesigned Public Events Calendar, which offers a broad range of listings for events across the Princeton campus, is now available online.

The new calendar is designed to give campus community members and visitors a more user-friendly central resource to find notices about academic, arts, athletics and other events, while providing organizers with a more streamlined process for publicizing their events. The project was driven by demand among both the campus community and the general public for greater access to information about the hundreds of public events -- ranging from scholarly lectures to visits by major world figures -- held on campus each year.

The redesign of the Public Events Calendar is part of campuswide efforts to achieve cost savings and sustainability goals through a greater emphasis on electronic distribution of information and a reduction in print publications. Numerous departments and offices contributed to the development of the new calendar, which began last May and was overseen by the Office of University Scheduling and the Office of Information Technology (OIT).

"This calendar represents a leap forward for Princeton in terms of the user experience, aesthetics, technology and functional performance," said Thomas Myers, director of the Frist Campus Center, Richardson Auditorium and University Scheduling. "Our hope is for this calendar to become the vibrant informational hub that will serve all aspects of the University and local community seeking event information at Princeton."

The new calendar enables users to view events by a specific date or within a range of dates. Users can search for events sponsored by particular organizations or locations, or can view events by categories such as academic, arts, athletics, student life, exhibits and religious events. Users can subscribe to RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, which deliver regular updates from the calendar directly to the user. They also can place event information from the Public Events Calendar onto their personal Exchange calendars using iCalendar technology.

The new calendar employs two technologies that are widely used across campus to store, deliver and display event data: the Resource25 (R25) event scheduling software program and the Roxen content management system.

With the previous version of the Public Events Calendar, which launched in 2002 under the management of OIT, users could enter event information directly into the calendar using WebEvent software. The new calendar requires information to be added first to R25 and then fed to the calendar. Event sponsors seeking to publish an event to the Public Events Calendar either must have access to create events and assign space in R25, or they must submit their event information to an R25 scheduler for publication. Most public spaces on campus are scheduled by offices already using R25.

"With approximately 80 percent of University events scheduled through Resource25, we wanted to leverage the information contained in that system, as well as the investment the University has made in Roxen to publish this information to the Web," said Nancy Costa, associate chief information officer and director of Project and Consulting Services in OIT. "Using this approach, the goal is to provide University departments and groups a single, streamlined process to both schedule and publish their events."

The project was led by Emily Shandley, associate director of University Scheduling/Resource25, in partnership with staff members in OIT. They worked with dozens of representatives from organizations around campus, including the Office of the Provost, the Department of Facilities, the Office of the Registrar, the Office of Conference and Event Services, the Office of Communications and an advisory board composed of representatives from offices using R25.

"They were instrumental in developing the momentum and buy-in from so many constituent groups necessary to move this very visible project forward," Myers said. "Development of the calendar included a number of formal and information discussions, development of story boards outlining needs and wants, review of successful public calendars at peer institutions, as well as formal focus groups to ensure the structure and format of the proposed calendar was representative of Princeton and equally functional for all users of Resource25 on campus." 

Costa added that the Lewis Center for the Arts, which previously created an online events calendar using R25 and Roxen, was a key partner in the development of the new Public Events Calendar.

Following the launch of the new calendar, a second phase of development is beginning immediately, based on feedback obtained from users. Planned enhancements during the second phase of development include a keyword search; an event space reservation form that will be accessible from the calendar; links to campus maps and the offices of University Ticketing, and Transportation and Parking Services; the ability to post images with calendar entries; and new fields to enter data such as event costs, cosponsors and contact information for disability services.

As the transition to the new Public Events Calendar takes place, the previous version will remain in operation this spring. While current WebEvent users will be able to post new events or edit existing events on a short-term basis, OIT no longer will create new WebEvent user accounts. It is expected that the WebEvent calendar will be retired permanently in May.

In addition to publicizing their events on the Public Events Calendar, campus organizations also may continue to use the online event submission form to have their events considered for placement in the "Featured Events" section of the University's main website and/or in the "Nassau Notes" section of the Princeton University Bulletin.

Questions or comments about the new Public Events Calendar can be directed to University Scheduling at uschedul@princeton.edu or (609) 258-2244.

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