Using WordPress software as a content management solution for your website, has many advantages and can provide you with a professional presence for your library or information centre.
It provides all the tools you need to manage and publish your own content online. It also provides a great platform for you to keep your visitors updated with news of your library or information centre.
You can also provide staff members with granular admin access to help you to maintain and update your library content. Giving them perhaps just editor or author roles and retaining full control of administrator access.
Tip: In all cases do not share your login details, but provide each user with their own username and password. You can then revoke access at any point in the future!
There are two versions of WordPress. One version is a hosted solution by WordPress themselves and the other is downloaded and hosted by you.
The quickest way to create a WordPress site for your library is to visit www.wordpress.com, create an account and within a few minutes you can start creating webpages and uploading images to a portal you can call your own. While this is the easiest of the two versions, it comes with some caveats.
The Hosted version has:
- Limited functionality
- No plugins available
- Limits on design, layout and themes available
- The footer will display ‘Powered by WordPress’ unless you upgrade
- Limits on website optimisation for search engines (SEO)
WordPress – Self Hosted
With this version of WordPress you download the WordPress files and then upload these to a web hosting account. Whilst you can visit www.wordpress.org and obtain the files free of charge, you will need to purchase a hosting service. There are many hosting providers available and costs can vary from a few pounds a month increasing with each additional services you add, such as email and domain name management.
Some hosting providers take this one stage further and will setup WordPress for you and provide a managed environment to help you keep it up to date, safe and secure.
The Self-Hosted version has:
- Hundreds of free and commercial themes are available
- WordPress repository of plugins available to provide extra functionality to your site
- You can customise the look and feel of your website pages
- More search engine optimised features to help index your library website
- The tools to create a truly unique and customised library website
Tip: We recommend the Self Hosted version of WordPress. There is a cost each month for hosting but it provides you with many more tools and options to build a professional library website.
Creating web pages for your library website
Once your website is built, start adding new pages straight away. Most of the formatting options are similar to desktop word processing applications like Microsoft Office.
When using WordPress for your library or information centre website, you can provide site visitors with a wealth of information.
- What services you have available to visitors or your organisation employees
- Links to further resources or your library management system
- Help and General Library Information
- Contact pages, information request forms and opening hours
- Direct links to popular titles, journals from your library management system
- Links to your online archive if required
- Digital content (audio & video)
- Social media links and embedded Twitter feeds
WordPress makes it very easy to add and create as many webpages as you need, plus easy to navigate menus.
Tip: It may seem a little daunting at first but with the popularity of WordPress powering websites globally, you will find lots of online help guides online. A quick Google search normally finds the answers to most common WordPress problems or queries!
Maintaining your WordPress library website
If you decide to use the WordPress.com hosted version, then much of the maintenance is taken care of for you as WordPress themselves update and host the platform for you, but it has its limitations as mentioned previously.
When using the Self-Hosted WordPress.org version, then you really need to ensure the following:
- You take regular backups of your website files, theme and plugins
- You make a daily backup of the WordPress database
- That all plugins are updated every few weeks, as new updated versions become available
- That any themes used are also kept up to date
- That the core WordPress software is kept up to date
If this seems too much, there are third-party providers that can help you to keep your site backed up and software updated automatically. There are also simple plugins that are capable of running regular backups for you. As mentioned previously some hosting providers also provide managed WordPress hosting. This is something to consider if you don’t want to get involved with the maintenance side of running your library website.
Keeping your library website secure!
Keeping WordPress software up to date is vital to help you run a healthy library website. As with your mobile phone apps and computer software you should always ensure the latest patches and updates are applied. Your library website is no different. It all helps to keep the nasties and malware and trojans from gaining unauthorised access to your site!
At the most basic level of security, you must always ensure you use site login passwords that are not easy to guess. Common sense in today’s world. Make sure all staff adhere to this of course.
Various plugins are also available to help you to keep your library website secure.
Connecting a Library Management System to WordPress
If you already have a library management system or inter library loans portal in place, then it makes sense to connect both your main library website and these applications together. It might be a straightforward case of providing text / image links to your LMS from the homepage or footer.
Taking this one stage further, why not embed the search feature from your library management system into the header of your WordPress library website? Something we can provide here at Soutron for users of our library and archive management systems.
This provides your library site visitors with a great user experience and simple search feature.
The Soutron system also includes a customised Library Search Portal. A great starting page for users to gain access to the library catalogue.
What’s stopping you?
If you are not using WordPress to power your library website along with your library management system, why not – what is stopping you?
WordPress is very low cost and offers lots of options to help you to promote your library.
Library management systems using the latest technology are now more affordable than ever and provide time saving tools essential to the running of a modern and efficient library.
Bringing both together really does provide you with a twenty first century library website and fantastic end user experience!
If you have any questions about creating a website using WordPress and Soutron Library Management Solution for your library, then do not hesitate to contact us. Perhaps you are already using WordPress for your library, if so tell us what you think about it in the comments below.
We will be happy to show you what some of our existing clients have done to promote their libraries internally within their organisation and also externally to their user community.
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