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Beyond HTML: Developing and re-imagining library web guides in a content management system

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The data associated with this publication are in the supplemental files.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC' version 3.0 license

Category: Case Study

Purpose: To report on the content management system designed to manage the 30 web-based research guides developed by the subject liaison librarians at the Georgia State University Library.

Methodology/Approach: The web development librarian, with assistance from the web programmer, designed a system using MySQL and ASP. A liaison team gave input on the system through rigorous testing and assisted with the design of the templates that control the layout of the content on the guides. A usability study and two surveys were also completed.

Findings: The new system met and exceeded the baseline expectations for content collection and management, offering a greater control over appearance and navigation while still offering customization features for liaisons. Improvements are planned for the templates in addition to better promotion of the guides on the library website. Initial and ongoing training for the liaisons should have been more effectively addressed. Despite their observed and future potential advantages, the CMS model has not been universally adopted by academic libraries.

Practical Implications: Regardless of the technology involved, libraries preparing for a CMS transition must give at least as much attention to user issues as they do to technical issues, from the organizational buy-in and comprehensive training to internal/external usability.

Originality/Value of Paper: This paper contributes to a small but growing collection of CMS case studies. It covers the technical, functional, and managerial developments of a CMS, while also addressing the practical user factors that sometimes get lost in the process.

Keywords: content management systems, web-based guides, database-driven websites liaisons, academic libraries

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