Our interim librarian Nicole was recently inspired by the blog-driven web site of the Ann Arbor District Library. She asked me whether we could convert ourLibrary web page into a blog, and I said “of course!” A couple of hours later, we had produced most of the new site. The software will allow her to easily post announcements about new items and links of interest, in addition to the usual task of maintaining links to research databases and subject area sources. For the latter, the blog software functions as a simple CMS by providing links directly to old blog items and removing the date so that they appear to be static pages.
The biggest apparent transformation is the look and feel. Historically, it was difficult to create a high-quality, original look and feel for the static library site. I have always found it challenging to produce good graphic design, so I appreciated finding the Laila skin. Since it already came in UHS web red, all the skin required was one good photo to be ready for production use.
I introduced one advanced wrinkle into this project. Until now, our entire library site was public to the world. In the interest of enabling comments on the new library blog, I moved the site into our private (authenticated) space. Students are automatically logged into the site and can leave comments under their school user names. However, we still wanted to keep the library front page public, in order to maintain visibility with our peer school libraries and to stay consistent with our other school program links on the insideUHS home page. To accomplish this, I wrote a small CGI that sends an authenticated HTTP request to our private site, rewrites some of the links, and returns this code to the browser. Since the request is authenticated but the actual user is not, the user still needs to log in to view any of the links.
UHS community members who would like to subscribe to the RSS feed must use news reader software that supports authentication.