Tech Talk -- Web Content Management System

(35262) Google Analytics, 2009-2016

On January 30th, 2009 the Reuther switched off its old 1.0 website for good. For those that recall, its retirement was long overdue. By the time of its retirement, the site had endured over a decade of development that had led to a patchwork of static HTML pages with a great deal of problems. The problems spanned from broken links to grossly out-of-date collection descriptions. The later issues provided the impetus to find a quick fix. This lead to the implementation of the Reuther’s 2.0 website. This site, based on the Drupal web content management system, leveraged the power of staff collaboration to allow authenticated users to make additions and edits at any time and from anywhere.

Though initially conceived of a simple means to deliver content such as images and audio to our public, it soon became obvious that with minimal effort we could index and offer our finding aids, too. This unorthodox approach to providing access to our manuscript descriptions has been the second most popular content type on our site since we first began serving them in early 2010. The site has for many years served visitors with descriptions of all of our open collections, which presently number 1,615. Abstracts are offered alphabetically from “AAUP Wayne State University Chapter Records” to the “Richard Zweiback Papers” at 100 per page.

Since launch, our 2.0 web site has served users with over 2,595,000 pageviews with most hitting our image galleries. Sharing images was one of the primary reasons for using Drupal and was one of the first content types to be populated with collection materials. Since launch we have recorded 387,300 pageviews of our image galleries alone.

If you’ve used our site for any purpose since January 2009, you’ve been one of the over 500,000 unique visitors to benefit from our decisions to improve our online services. This practice continues to this day. The site will soon receive a complete overhaul that will necessitate some changes. While we’re still discussing many aspects of the next generation Reuther 3.0 website, one thing is certain, the new site will be decisively lighter. Content of enduring value, such as our image galleries, will be moved to our digital repository for permanent display. In fact, some of our images have already begun to be moved to this preservation system, which is simply named Digital Collections.

These adjustments to our web presence are aimed at long-term preservation and access, and closely follow standards and best practices as proffered by various professional organizations including the Society of American Archivists, the Council on Library and Information Resources, and the Digital Library Federation. This reliance on multiple systems for both discovery of and access to our materials will ensure their long-term viability and vitality for many years to come. We hope you enjoy our work as we enter into our next level of technological development and advancement. Be on the look out for some big changes in 2017.

Paul Neirink is the Digital Resources Specialist for the Walter P. Reuther Library