February 21, 2008

Content Management Systems

What is a Content Management System and why would a library want one?

A Content Management System (or CMS) is a type of Website you can create yourself. Two popular CMS software are Drupal and Joomla. Both Drupal and Joomla are open source software that have large communities of users and developers, similar to the open source blogging software, WordPress.

Content management systems can be used as “typical” websites or online communities. Like WordPress, they are built on powerful databases and can provide some of the same functionality, such as blogging features, built-in feeds, strong navigation, great archiving opportunities, full-text searching, and an easy way for multiple people to contribute information to a site.

Probably the most “famous” library site using Drupal is the Ann Arbor District Library (http://www.aadl.org/). Please keep in mind that this library has a beautifully designed custom template! Here are some other examples of libraries and other organizations using Drupal:

Here are some examples of library-related websites using Joomla:

I am the first to admit that installing and setting up a CMS is not for everyone. However, those of you who have set up a typical site with an HTML editor would probably admit that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea either! However, unlike a traditional website, once the CMS is set up, adding content to the site is as easy as submitting a new entry to a blog! The enormous benefit to your library is that most library staff could easily contribute to the site without a lot of complicated training.

One important point: A CMS requires web hosting. (At this time, I am not aware of a hosted CMS.) You can either host the software yourself, using a Linux server, or purchase remote web hosting for a small monthly fee - like I do.

If you’d like to learn more about how content management systems work, consider attending a hands-on workshop. We’ll be using a variety of previously created sites in various stages of development. You’ll get the opportunity to see how easy it is to add content, get some practice uploading new templates and extensions, and work with the site’s navigation structure.

Register online at:

Questions? Contact: bobbilee.slossar [at] dcr.nh.gov