Battle of the CMSs: WordPress plugins and tools for libraries

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Some rights reserved by Chesi - Fotos CC on Flickr

Both WordPress and Drupal have sizeable and dedicated supporters from the librarian community and they both offer quite a lot of specialist functionality so I thought it was time to take a closer look at the two most popular web publishing platforms through librarian eyes. With OneClick installer scripts for both platforms now pretty common in hosting providers, setting up a Content Management System (CMS) is no longer too difficult but finding the right extensions in a sea of millions of plugins, themes and frameworks can be. This is part one of a series looking at web publishing platforms, starting with WordPress.

There are plenty of libraries using WordPress – there’s even a WordPress and Librarians facebook group with more than 200 members. There are a number of good library-related plugins for WordPress 3 but unfortunately some others (BiblioPress and the Koha plugins for example) haven’t been updated and are no longer compatible with the latest version of WordPress. WordPress 3 introduced the custom post types which was a significant step forward in using WordPress for publishing different types of specialist content. The Library Custom Post Types plugin takes this a step or two further to make it easy for libraries to add journals, databases or staff member listings to their website.

There’s also an OpenBook data plugin. We’ve talked about Open Library before but this plugin brings the Open Library API to your WordPress site, making it possible to incorporate book covers and other Open Library data into your site.

Relevanssi adds a bunch of advanced search options to your WordPress site, including document search, fuzzy matching, phrase search and ‘did you mean?’-type suggestions. Another very handy feature of this search is that it logs queries, letting you see the most popular queries as well as searches that got no hits. The Relevanssi plugin basic version offers all these features and more but there’s also a ‘premium’ version with some additional features and support from the developer. Dave’s WordPress Live Search (which does pretty much what is says on the tin; It’s a search autocomplete plugin …made by Dave) also integrates with the Relevanssi plugin so worth a look if you really want to supercharge your site’s search capabilities.

If you are after a more OPAC type search setup there’s a Faceted Search plugin which lets users use the categories (or tags) you setup on your site to narrow their search.

There are a few different plugins for room or resource bookings that could be used in a library setting, though some of these are linked to external booking applications. Booking Calendar offers quite a lot of options, perhaps too many, but can also be set up to manage quite simple reservations. The WP Simple Booking Calendar offers a similar level of flexibility but the free version is restricted to a single calendar.

While WordPress doesn’t have a mass of active plugins for libraries, there are some great and easy-to-use options for presenting (and to a less degree, managing) library information on a WordPress site. If you are planning to or currently using WordPress in your library, check out the Facebook group for links and advice. And for those tasked with developing a WordPress site, instant WordPress is a handy way to setup a development environment to try some of these out. If you know of any libraries doing interesting things with WordPress or any plugins you’ve found useful, feel free to highlight them below.

Who’s using WordPress (a list in progress):

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