Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Conversion to Libguides CMS - A One Year Review

Last summer I attended the Annual ALA conference in Las Vegas, NV and was intent on visiting with the Springshare folks on how Libguides CMS could serve as our main library website.  When I came to this institution nearly 6 years ago I was tasked with revamping (OK, total redo) of the existing library website as the Digital Services Librarian, which I accomplished.

At the time, I was hot on web development and super eager to whip the antiquated site into shape.  I did use Dreamweaver to accomplish the task and was able to launch the new site that winter break before the spring term started.  All went fairly smooth, and without too many headaches, the site served the library well for 4 years.  All wasn't perfect though as I had no choice but to port over much of the content into the new template, complete with a multitude of styles, conflicting CSS, and tables...lots of tables.  I cleaned it up as well as I could but there was nearly 400 total pages of content, a mess that really needed top be dealt with sooner than later.

Another issue, of course, was that I was the sole administrator of the website, which was OK for me at the beginning but then became a hassle as I was assigned more tasks, responsibilities, and "other duties as assigned".  Every area of the website needed to keep current (and I alone needed to make the changes) and managing it all plus the "dead wood" content begged for change.  Another issue was that the site resided on an aging server in the IT dept. which was not part of the library, another issue that became a larger problem because the larger campus moved to a cumbersome CMS platform and the IT guys were not really into maintaining the aging server when most content resided elsewhere.  I was able to remain on my old server as long as I could but knew I needed to make a jump soon.

In graduate school I had created Libguides (that still exist) for certain courses  and while it was fairly easy to build resources easy, I wasn't sure how it all would work as a main library website.  When I visited with the Springshare people they affirmed all of my questions and concerns and then gave me a trial site, where I could start building my site. The best part was that if I elected to purchase the product I could save the work I created in the trial (I think you have to request that), which was great.

We did purchase the product that summer and began to build the site the following fall.  The great part for me was to distribute the work based on Collection Development areas among the librarians and even got staff involved making other content.  Staff were responsible for a guide on our student work study students, a library 101 guide with basic library information, and even a guide to Inter-library Loan.  I think giving the staff some involvement was a good idea and was urged by my Director.

The training was handled by myself along with all of the resources provided by Springshare.  I trained my fellow librarians and paired them up with a staff member to in-turn train them in creating a guide.  The only hitch was that the version of CMS we were using was new and so some of the tutorials were for prior versions. We stumbled through, and while we are not Libguide masters, we were able to painlessly turn out stale and static library website into a vibrant website where we could improve access, get all of the library staff and involved, and manage resources in a much more organized way.  The new site is now hosted by Springshare and off of the old server tucked away in the IT dept., which pleased everyone on both side of the "house".  In a recent survey to students on satisfaction of library resources, they seemed to indicate that they were happy with the new site (we are still tallying the results of our spring survey).

We are now considering purchasing LibHelp, which is an add on product that delivers live chat.

This small private liberal arts academic library serves around 1200 primarily residential undergrads.

*Information contained within these pages do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Schreiner University.

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