Plinkit: National Collaboration with a Local Impact (program notes)
These are my notes from the Plinkit conference program given at Online NW 2010 (Unfortunately, I lent my laptop to someone during this program, so I am back filing this). It should be noted that of the day of the presentation the domain name of Plinkit (plinkit.org) was disconnected. The host did not renew continue the service by accident.
Darci gave specific examples of Oregon Plinkit users. In 2003 Multnomah County Library served as a template for public libraries; they were they ones to start and model this project. In 2005 the Oregon State Library took on responsibility for this project, and it launched state-wide in 2006. The concept for this project in 2002 was to provide a common interface (basically a template) to small town public libraries because they rarely have people and resources for creating and maintaining their own individual web site for the library.
The following is from the program description–it summarizes this program well:
Throughout the U.S., small and rural public libraries are struggling to stay open and do not have the capacity to develop engaging websites that can meet the information needs of their patrons. In the age of electronic journals, online learning resources, research databases, and more, it is imperative that libraries of all types provide access to these and other valuable information resources through a well-designed, full-featured website. Plinkit addresses this issue by providing a pre-built, easy-to-maintain, public library website based on Plone, an open source content management system. This session will cover the history of the Plinkit project, why it’s needed, the features and functionality that Plone plus specialized content can bring to a library website, and information on the multi-state, muliti-network cooperative, the Plinkit Collaborative. This presentation serves as a great case-study for how long-distance collaboration can have a local impact in providing library services in the technology age.
Some of the questions asked during and after the program are as follows:
Q. Many libraries are now being pushed by their city management to use a common content management system (CMS) that all city departments use. How can library use Plinkit while many libraries are essentially not allowed to express individuality (granted Plinkit is pretty much the same thing as a CMS)?
A. Darci is willing to work with city managers to create synthesis. The point is to at least have some web presence even though the city maintains control. For small towns, a CMS would be a welcome thing because their time & resources are too limited. Plink it adjustable, it supports granular controls, hierarchy, has explicit content types (for metadata)
Q. What is the difference between WordPress and Plinkit? Why not just use WordPress?
A. You have to consider that in 2002, WordPress was not an option. Now we have a lot of time, energy, and resources put into Plinkit. As new users come online with this project, the costs decline for the group. Libraries could use WordPress though. An audience member mentioned that WordPress has an interface for small libraries (e.g. church libraries).
Q. Have you considered having multiple themes available for institutions to select from (to provide variation)? We’re working on a few options now, but you can also customize Plinkit if wanted.
Q. Is this only for public libraries?
A. Pretty much right now it is geared toward public libraries, but includes school libraries and medical libraries.
Q. Is an ILS included?
A. No, ILS is not included.
Note: other institutions are considering fee based systems for local Plinkit service support and installation to cover the annual membership fees ($25,000 –> $8,000).
Q. How much time does it take to develop with PLONE?
A. About 2 hours over the phone, but considerably longer for PLONE administrators (day or two).