Thursday, May 7, 2009

Avoiding Déjà Vu All over again: Sustainable Approaches for Managing Academic Library Websites.

Avoiding Déjà Vu All over again: Sustainable Approaches for Managing Academic Library Websites.

Academic librarians

Speakers: Kelcy Shepherd, Digital Interfaces Librarian, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries; Gary Atwood, Reference Librarian, Springfield College

Most librarians who are charged with website management are accidental webmasters. They've learned as they've gone along, but get trapped into a redevelopment cycle as the library's web gets stale.

Presenters commended the audience for their vigorous participation.

At UMass many committees and task forces have been responsible. Now they have a content management person who manages Cascading Style Sheet and makes new designs. There's a programmer / systems manager who is responsible for all library technology. There is also a Web advisory committee which is a working group, assignments are given out, they do usability studies, construct Web best practices guidelines which are maintained on a committee wiki.

Questionnaire distributed as discussion starter.

  1. Who is responsible for administering/updating your website? Webmaster? Web team? Other?

  2. How much authority do you have to make changes to your website? None (someone else approves) Some (edit content but no adding new stuff), Masters of domain.

  3. Does your web site have a specific purpose /mission statement Yes, No

  4. Are there design/style guidelines that spell out how the web site should look? Yes, No

  5. Is the library website a part of a larger institutional website (college, school, town)? Yes No

  6. If yes, does the administrator of the institutional we site have control over your web site. Yes No

  7. How would you rate the software you use to administer/update your site? Just right (easy to use, has all you need), OK (you figured out the basics, but the advanced stuff requires more training), Where's the manual (difficult to use, more sophisticated than what you need)

Think about your library website. Ask What is the purpose of the website -- Ask Who is the audience. Then

Think carefully about choosing a content management system. UMass Amherst uses

Silverstripe. Many colleges use Drupal which was a little too tech heavy. There are some quirks that require workarounds.

It is a good idea to do usability testing. Others' eyes can be helpful.

Kathy Shepherd can be emailed if you would like to receive UMass' Best Practices Guidelines and the Website Mission Statement which is kept on the committee wiki.


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