- Library websites, based on Drupal templates, were outdated and not responsive for mobile users.
- The library systems have no in-house developers or dedicated technical support resources. Librarians are focused on serving patrons, not technology management.
- Content population was cumbersome. Smaller libraries, with only one manager, could not find the time to update site content. And even more fully-staffed libraries found content population tedious much of the time.
- Promoting events, a huge priority for both library systems, was clumsy using commodity-built freeware calendars.
- The library systems wanted to maintain centralized management of its website platform while allowing branch librarians autonomy over site content.
- Create attractive, practical site design templates that can adapt to new features and demands.
- Build advanced Event Calendar and event registration system, based on custom eZ forms.
- Implement intuitive role-based editing flow to let branch librarians manage individual sites.
- Integrate Reading List functionality to libraries third-party catalog system.
- Implement multi-domain rollout to 80-plus domains at an attractive price point for publicly funded libraries.
- Eager adoption of new features, particularly Event Registrations, by library patrons.
- Ease of daily content management tasks, such as News and Hours of Operation.
- Tech management of centralized platform can be managed by library staff or partner.
- Initial investment will scale over a decade or more of growth.
Why eZ Platform
Richard Kenig, IT Manager at Marigold Library System did extensive technical research and cut the candidate list to two platforms, including eZ. He said he found its multi-domain architecture to be a good fit for the economy and scalability the libraries needed.
In 2018, the libraries selected eZ Platform DXP for the project, and decided to work with Mugo Web, an eZ partner based in Vancouver, as developer for the project. The system launched in early 2019.
We wanted to do something on a large scale, but without a large budget. We were looking for a solution that would be attractive and modern, but be built to focus specifically on the needs of libraries - not marketers or other types of businesses that so many web platforms are built for.
Peter Keung, the Managing Director at Mugo Web, said eZ Platform's extensible content model, page templating system and built-in functionality were a perfect fit for the libraries requirements.
"For example, we are able to focus on the business logic specific to handling events with complex recurrence rules and add a registration system with wait lists on top, while letting eZ Plattform handle the heavy lifting around data storage, the base editorial interface, and content relations," Keung said. "We focus on getting the business requirements right, and have the confidence that eZ Platform can fit the end solution, rather than having to modify the end solution to suit eZ Platform."
Marigold's Kenig said eZ Platform's intuitive content editing user interface for was also a big plus.
Kenig added that Mugo Web stood out as a development partner because its team understood the libraries' requirements and added useful ideas and suggestions, without needlessly expanding the scope of the project with a lot of bells and whistles.
The Marigold and Peace website system includes a wide range of features purpose-built for libraries, based on eZ Platform core content and functionality models.
Calendar and Events Registration
Patrons can register for events directly from calendar listings. Site operators can set attendee limits for registration-only events, as well as waiting list queues for popular events. Patrons are notified by email if an event slot comes open, and librarians can easily export attendee lists from within the eZ Platform admin interface.
Visual theme manager
Authorized individual site managers can set key visual properties per domain, including color scheme and header logo. This provides each library a distinctive visual identity while maintaining a easy-to-manage site structure across the system.
Edit workflows within the multi-domain implementation
Each library can set individual permissions for page creation, content updates and other management tasks. Centralized managers maintain the ability to push global content and setting updates to multiple sites across the system.
Integration with LMS catalog
Librarians can create custom reading lists simply by scanning a book or other resource. All information about the item is pulled automatically from the LMS, and reading list items link directly to the catalog. Catalog searches can also be launched directly from the eZ Platform site.
Quick rollout per site at scale
Mugo created scripts to manage site variables that enabled roll-out of individual sites in just a couple hours. The script is based on a core user permissions and content profile, so that individual sites managers don't start with a blank slate when launching a new site.
Since its rollout to member libraries began this spring, Marigold and Peace's new websites have been a hit with librarians and patrons alike. In all, the two systems have trained more than 100 site operators, and all seem to have quickly taken to the system.
"Staff members are putting up events at 9 a.m. and they are filling up by 9:30," Kenig said. "So the system is obviously addressing the need we identified as being essential to the project."
Kenig says the libraries hope to stay on the current build-out for a decade or more, although he does anticipate some need to modify design templates and perhaps add a few new features during that lifecycle. "We may need to make some changes, but the platform allows us to do that without a lot of expense or disruption," he said.