Digital Archives are easier to create than ever before, utilizing content management systems such as Omeka, Drupal, Collective Access or even WordPress, libraries and institutions can share and organize their collections through the web. Digital archives can turn 300 years of chowder recipes into a resource that historians can utilize to analyze regional cuisines, or a media preservation project can become an archive that connects disparate artists from around the world.
The question of if librarians and information professionals should learn web design and development is a popular topic that I will not be addressing in this post, however, I tend to agree with the camp that suggests that a working understanding of basic web development should be fundamental for most current LIS students (see Bryan J. Brown’s two-part series on Web Development at Hack Library School). This working knowledge can definitely be tested by the editing of pre-existing templates. The creation of a new webpage versus customizing a preexisting webpage can be a lot like trying to install an air conditioner or trying to fix a malfunctioning one: while installation has clear guidelines, maintenance/repair requires expert knowledge.
Bootstrap is a nice alternative to a pre-made theme, as different pieces can be mixed and matched together. Additionally, if a project changes hands, a new librarian will be able to understand all of the components if they too are familiar with Bootstrap.
This summer I began working on a digital archive for St. Francis College while enrolled in a database design and maintenance class. Along with my classmate Tal Rozen, we created the framework of the database driven website using Bootstrap and MAMP. The class, focused on database design, also taught us how to create and utilize MySQL queries. An early development version of the website can be viewed from our professor’s server here: http://higilok.net/database3/sfc/. Currently I am working with student workers at St. Francis College to complete digitization of the 80 yearbooks available. The library’s goal is to complete the website and make it available through the library’s server space where alumni, current students and researchers can view this rich collection. As the website becomes more developed I hope to share more insights and code snippets here on the blog.