Common Sense Approaches for Libraries Using Drupal

Isovera loves libraries. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love libraries. But, specifically, we are partial to our library friends for the widespread adoption of Drupal in the library community. Drupal.org has a great list of libraries currently using Drupal…and this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Just this past month, Isovera has helped bring two more libraries into the Drupal world – Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy, MA and Sacred Heart University Library in Fairfield, CT. These were great groups to work with. More importantly, both groups realized early what I believe are two major tenets when embarking on a Drupal web development project.

Set realistic budget expectations

The honest truth is that many libraries get into Drupal because resources/budgets are often thin and the prospect of a “free” open source solution is appealing. I would caution that if you start with unrealistic cost expectations, you may be disappointed. Sure, many libraries have that one awesomely ambitious, technical wizard who may have dug into Drupal and can leave you spell-bound with his/her Drupal wizardry. For the most part, however, that is a luxury, and the majority of libraries really cannot afford to have someone with that level of expertise on staff. Reality check: GOOD Drupal developers generally bill at between $85-200/hr. (I hate using all caps, but “good” is an important differentiator here). The fact of the matter is that if your in-house guy is that good, chances are he won’t be there forever.

Think long- term

The days of “launch it and leave it” are long gone. Today’s web projects are constantly evolving - adapting to the changes in new digital media innovations. By selecting Drupal you are positioning the library to have a web platform that can handle those changes for the long-term. But, just a reminder, it is open source. You can’t just call “Drupal” when you need to add something or when something breaks.

A sound plan will position the library with consistent long-term resources and expertise. Many of our library clients have found success with a two-pronged approach. This involves making sure you have a strong in-house technical point person to coordinate with a long-term Drupal technology partner. The partner should not be a one person shop, but a firm that has a wide breadth of resources that the library can draw from. This strategy insures that you will always have a resource that knows the in’s and out’s of your Drupal site.

These common sense approaches will provide a solid foundation for your Drupal web initiative and will help you react to any roadblocks that may come your way.

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