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Library CMS website platform features checklist

By Peter Keung  | January 30, 2019  |  Business solutions, Web solutions

As a library or library system, you might have well-defined feature requirements for various digital systems such as the online catalogue, various eResources, or even in-library WiFi. However, what about the public-facing website, which can be the first and sometimes most frequent interaction that patrons have with you? Here's a handy library CMS website platform features checklist, whether you're looking for a new website or evaluating your existing one.

General considerations

  • Responsive design
  • HTTPS / SSL certificate support
  • Split search between the catalogue and the website
    • For website search results, further drill the results down by content type
  • Freedom to design a front-end user experience independent of the CMS choice

Library system considerations

If you run a library system that oversees many branches:

  • Does each branch get its own website? If so, does each branch get its own domain or subdomain?
  • Generate an automated list of member libraries or branches, so they can be managed centrally and then automatically updated on different pages
  • Editors can customize all site-specific elements, such as "Donate" and "Volunteer" buttons, create featured banner cards, and more
  • Automated process to set up new libraries or branches
  • Each individual site can customize preset themes to modify the main colours and which colours are assigned to each element
Library CMS colour scheme picker

Hours of operation

  • Ability to "set it and forget it"
  • Show a dynamic display of the current hours -- that is, whether the library is open right now
  • Easy to manage the regular schedule of hours
  • Add special recurrence rules and special days
  • Add a special schedule for summer hours
Library CMS summer schedule

Events calendar

  • Events can be discovered in multiple ways, such as on a calendar view, list view, in search results, and in homepage and other landing page features
  • Patrons can search and filter by event tags or categories and sub-categories
  • Patrons can use "Download to calendar" buttons to add events to their Outlook, Google, or Apple calendars
  • View and share an event in the context of a specific day as well as in the context of the entire series
  • Add event recurrence rules, starting with simple rules such as "every Tuesday", then getting more sophisticated such as "last Tuesday of every month", multiple rules in a single event, exceptions, and skipped occurrences
Recurrence rules

Registration forms

  • Add a registration form to an event in the context of a specific day or the entire series
  • View and modify registrations, as well as export them to CSV / spreadsheets
  • Support wait lists and cancellations
  • Automated e-mail notifications, as well as moving registrants between the main list, wait list, and cancellation list

Featured books and book lists

  • CMS integration with Bibliocommons, Polaris, or whatever catalogue system you use
  • Editors can use a book scanner to build CMS book lists
  • Editors can share and re-use book lists within a site and across sites
  • Pull in book data by UPC, ISBN, or Control Number, and automatically link to the relevant catalogue URLs
Add book to a book list

News pages, general pages, image galleries, and other content types

  • A variety of content types to suit your library, with the ability to modify and add to the list and feature set over time
  • News or blogs: sort by date and add author information
  • General pages or articles: Create and re-use rich content and formatting such as embedded book lists; embedded images, videos, and files; accordions; blockquotes; and embedded external widgets such as from LibraryAware, YouTube, and Vimeo
  • Image galleries: upload and edit multiple images at once, and add captions and alternative image text
  • Landing pages including the homepage: manage dynamic homepage blocks, with a combination of custom-built elements (including banners, featured cards, and more) as well as automated features (such as upcoming events, latest news, and more)
  • eResources: build and manage a list of eResources that is shared across libraries
  • Menus: simple for an editor to build and manage menu elements for the main menu, footer menu, and other relevant menus
  • Forms: customize a contact form, or any custom form (such as "Suggest a Book"), with the ability to manage and export data in the back-end and configure multiple e-mail recipients
Library CMS form builder

CMS back-end features

  • Granular permissions for editors to manage multiple sites or a single site: editors can create and edit only exactly what is relevant
  • Audit logs and version history of all changes
  • Preview and stage changes before going live
  • Taxonomy and tag management
  • Multi-language support
  • Easy to create short / vanity URLs

Service, support, and ongoing development

  • CMS is actively supported by a development partner and a larger community rather than a homegrown system
  • An agreement with a development partner and/or CMS vendor to provide ongoing updates, improvements, and feature additions to the CMS
  • A service-oriented development partner
  • An eye towards long-term, ongoing support
  • An arrangement for hosting, whether on-premise or in the cloud, including staging sites, and backups
  • Security measures: regular security patches, a secure hosting environment, encrypted passwords

Do you have additional library or library system CMS feature requirements? Are you looking for a CMS development partner with years of experience with library websites, as well as with various publishers? Get in touch anytime.


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