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Chinook Arch Regional Library System

Mugo partner since 2022

New websites help regional library system improve workflow and increase member library agency.

When Chinook Arch Regional Library System set out to find a developer for their new website and the sites of their member libraries, they knew they needed someone who would understand their needs and be able to support specific requests. They were looking for something fresh to own and update as needed. For years, they had shared a platform with neighboring Alberta library systems, and while a cost-saving move, the arrangement didn’t give them the flexibility they wanted from their website.  On top of that, frustrations with the customer service from their previous website providers led to a hard out date and the necessity for a quick turnaround on a new site. That’s where Mugo Web and its website platform Mugo Library came in.

"All the little things libraries are looking for, we seem to have hit.”

Chinook Arch was familiar with Mugo Web, thanks to a recommendation from Marigold Library System. They knew Mugo has a reputation for great customer service and the development skills to build out the new, custom features they wanted.

In April 2023, Chinook Arch launched their new website on schedule with the key features they needed to improve their workflow and increase patron access to library services. “We had such a short timeline,” stated Trevor Haugen, IT manager for Chinook Arch. “I’m surprised it could be met, and how smoothly it could go based on that.”

A fresh design puts UX front and center

The design of the new Chinook Arch website was crucial. They needed something fresh, accessible, and that would fit the brand standards for the regional library system as well as serve the needs of the 32 member libraries on a single platform. They also wanted to make sure key information was prominent on each page, and that they had a way to easily share service information without having to recreate it on all the individual pages. Melding the workflow they needed with the design they wanted, brought the opportunity for Mugo Web to build out a few new features.

“Tianna [the designer] was great at her job,” commented Joey Going, Communications Specialist for Chinook Arch. “We put a lot of trust in her to incorporate everything we wanted into the design. She listened really well. She didn’t miss anything we mentioned.”

Convenient library information

One of the early design elements Chinook Arch requested was a floating menu featuring the library’s hours, location (with map), and latest news article. Keeping this information at hand with the floating expandable sidebar makes it easier for patrons using the site to have the most commonly sought information readily available.

Two views of the floating menu: left, the floating icons featuring a stylized clock, location marker, and newspaper. Right, the expanded hours menu.

Featured Cards

Another improvement Chinook Arch requested from their previous site was a way to improve the workflow of their administrative staff. The member libraries of the Chinook Arch Regional Library System vary greatly in size and support needs. Regional administrative staff are often needed to help manage the individual sites for libraries with fewer staff. Being able to quickly update and add content that could be copied out to multiple sites was important. Being able to display a lot of information in an easy-to-browse, discoverable way for patrons was equally important. 

The solution for both challenges was a redesign and new configuration of Mugo Library's Featured Cards. The Featured Cards can be easily created and stored in the CMS media library in the HQ site and added to individual sites as needed without having to recreate the process. The Featured Cards are clean, easy to read, and redirect to service-specific landing pages that are mostly universal for the member libraries.

Featured cards of Chinook Arch services. Each has a styled box with the type of service, a description, and a link for more information.

Accessible design

Accessibility was an important consideration in the design of the site, and there wasn’t just one design to audit for visual elements such as color contrast. The final designs incorporated 6 different color schemes in addition to the HQ design for the individual libraries to choose from and personalize. All elements had to work together in an appealing fashion and also conform to WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines.

Key integrations help increase site's capabilities

There were several integrated services that were essential to the new Chinook Arch sites, some familiar, and some that were unique compared to other libraries Mugo Web has worked with.

Library card registration

Patrons needed a way to register or renew their library cards online. We were able to build in an integration with the library’s ILS system’s registration service to provide a seamless experience for users. The process is contained in a page on the website, and patrons don’t have to worry about being sent to a 3rd party site. They know their information is secure on the library page.

The integrated eCard registration form is shown on the Chinook site, with sidebar navigation and form fields.


Two important changes to the Mugo Library events registration system both required integrations with 3rd party services. The ability to search for events by location, and the ability for the libraries to collect payment for some events.

Location search

The first need was a new feature driven by the fact that some of the smaller libraries in the Chinook Arch system do not provide programming or events. However, their patrons may visit other member libraries for events, especially if they are geographically nearby. On the Mugo Library platform, each individual library’s calendar is unique, which posed both design and development challenges. It was decided that each individual library’s event page would feature a static card that redirects to the HQ site’s universal event calendar, where the location search feature would allow users to find events closest to their area, regardless of the hosting library. The strength of this feature allows patrons to view just their library’s events if they prefer while having easier access to the regional system as a whole. It allows the libraries both autonomy and collaborative opportunities.

The standard event calendar on a member library's site showing the "search for events" banner at top

On the HQ site, the default view is the location search with filter options for program ages, which was a cleaner and more accessible design choice than an overly dense universal calendar with hundreds of events.

Location search page, showing results for Fort McCleod region

The search feature has an integration with Google Maps. Patrons can search by city name, address, or zip code. Results are then listed in chronological order as cards with basic details about the event and links to the hosting library’s site and registration pages.

Paid events

Several of the Chinook Arch libraries require payment for certain events. This can serve as both fundraising for the library’s services or as a way to cover the cost of program materials. The libraries needed a way to integrate payment collection with the registration process on the website. Using the library’s existing PayPal service, we were able to build in a new optional feature to collect payment at the point of registration. This needed to be easy for the libraries to implement, painless for patrons, and still conform to the event systems registration logic. 

In the solution, librarians now have the option to click a checkbox for whether or not an event will require payment. If selected, they are prompted to add the price of the event. On the librarian’s side, that’s it. It’s an easy and direct process.

Back-end view of the event creation interface, showing the check box to accept online payment, the cost value (price) field, and the cost description

On the patron’s side, they begin the registration process as normal, filling in the requested fields. Once that’s done, they are then prompted to enter their payment information, in the secure PayPal portal, built into the same page. Once payment has been processed, the registration is complete.

A smooth launch makes way for future success

“I was surprised at how well it went,” said Robin Hepher, CEO of Chinook Arch, in regard to the new site’s development and launch. “It was such an improvement over our past processes. It didn’t involve as much work on our end. Anything we asked for was fixed within a week.”

“We felt like we were Mugo’s sole client during the development,” Hepher continued. 

Going spoke on the improvement to workflow since the launch of the new platform. “It’s freed up my time. All the libraries are now posting their own events, some for the first time. The swiftness of being able to update our site or make changes on specific pages is instantaneous. It’s a five-minute thing as opposed to an hour.”

In regards to increased engagement on the new sites, Going said that member libraries are taking more ownership and updating their content daily. They promote the website more because it has such increased capability over their previous sites. “They are so excited about the calendar! They love that people can register for different events. All the little things libraries are looking for, we seem to have hit.”

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Learn more about Mugo Library, the custom CMS solution for public libraries. 

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