Final Countdown to Joomla Launch

August 31, 2011 at 8:49 am Leave a comment

It’s been over a year since we first decided to create a new web site for the Library using Joomla as our content management system. The reasoning behind this move was to enable staff members who didn’t know HTML to contribute to the web content and add a variety of voices to our “public face.” In less than two weeks  the finished result will launch! In my final, frenzied few days of making it ready before the server switch, I feel like there are not enough hours in the day to make it presentable. Note that I did’t say perfect or complete, but merely “presentable” since it  is truly far from being done.  The best I can say is that I can look at it without being ashamed of it’s appearance. The attractive new look is due to the creative skills of our tech assistant/almost-librarian who is comfortable with PHP, CSS and a variety of other web programming languages. I have added the behind-the-scenes structure and content for everything except the youth section. That area is the responsibility of another librarian who gets input from our Youth Services Dept.

What have I learned from this project? First of all, I regret the months I when I didn’t spend any time at all with Joomla. Other projects were deemed more urgent at the time, and personal obligations during a family illness caused me to lose focus.  By the time I resumed work on the site, I had forgotten much of what I thought I knew about how Joomla works. I started the learning process over at least twice – and this wasted precious time. Our original plan for the web site was to involve a large group of individuals who would bring their concepts to the table and reach  consensus through discussion. What resulted was six months of stalemate, getting bogged down in such matters as where to place the “contact us” button on the page. We stopped the meetings and the three of us directly involved in the daily work met with the  administration to show progress every few months. Although this enabled us to get more done, we are now in the process of “tweaking” pages for those librarians in charge of their content who didn’t have a voice in the design. (This might fit under the “better to ask forgiveness than permission” saying.) Most of the changes involve cosmetic elements, but they are still time-consuming when there is a looming deadline.

Is there anything positive that came out of the past year’s efforts? I guess I’ve proved to myself that I am still able to learn new skills at age 64 – and that was always a worry for me. I’ve also come to appreciate the skills that the new crop of library science (oops, information science) students are mastering these days in their classes. Finally, I’ve been forced to cede total control as webmaster. The Library web page has been my project for almost fifteen years and you start to assume ownership at some point. Sharing can be painful, but I see it as a necessary step forward. We have a wonderful, gifted staff that will take our site in new directions to benefit those we serve, and I’ll enjoy reading their postings.

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