Pollak Library launched a new content management system and subject guide solution just this semester, which is live, but still kind of in beta mode, and is being launched into full production in phases:
- The subject guides went live on our production site this semester, but our subject specialist librarians are still in the process of migrating years worth of static HTML FrontPage-produced content into the new format.
- The rest of the content management piece, that handles the bulk of our non-research-guide website content, is still in the development/staging server phase until we map out a full website redesign later this year. We have content being re-built here already, it’s just not visible to the public.
Our new content management system — nicknamed SAMi for the System for Aggregating and Managing Information — is a custom in-house solution developed on a PHP platform. The content is built dynamically. Pages and guides are assembled from different types of assets (text and multimedia content, as well as embedded scripts and RSS feeds) that are containerized into widgets built on the fly. Each librarian can build his or her own custom widgets, can re-purpose another widget they like by cloning and modifying it, or they can simply borrow and use an existing widget “as is”. Guides can be assembled for an entire subject discipline, for a particular class, or for a professional presentation.
I can’t take credit for SAMi, or the new guides. These new products pre-date my employment at Pollak Library. I am simply promoting this cool new tool. The bulk of the credit has to go to two of my Library Systems coworkers: Mike Blyleven, our superstar lead programmer and Assistant Head of Systems, and Mike DeMars, one of our tech-savvy tenure-track Reference librarians who works half-time in Systems as well. These guys, along with a team of librarians who have provided feedback, ideas, and testing, have done an excellent job with creating SAMi.
If you would like to learn more about how we’re using SAMi for library subject guides, check out this video by Mike DeMars. If you would like more information about the development process, DeMars has chronicled it on his blog, or you can contact him directly.