Let Drupal Drive Your Web Site

Below are my notes for the Poster that I will be presenting at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago on July 13, 2009.

The data and charts that accompany these comments are available for download.  As is the raw survey data.

Who was surveyed and when?

  • Libraries that are using Drupal for their web site or planning to use Drupal for their website were surveyed from May 1, 2009 to June 15, 2009.
  • 71 libraries completed the survey.

Type of Library

  • Academic libraries represented the largest group with 37 University, College, or Community College libraries responding.
  • 26 Public Libraries responded.
  • The remainder of the libraries were made up of a vendor, a consortium, Government, Special, School, and Medical Libraries.

Before Drupal

  • More than half of libraries were using Static HTML with some dynamic content for their web sites.
  • Libraries using only Static HTML or Static HTML with dynamic content make up more than two-thirds of the libraries that responded to the survey.
  • Libraries using a homegrown CMS were the next largest group.

When was Drupal implemented?

  • Of the libraries that responded, the bulk of the libraries were either still in development or had implemented Drupal more than a year ago.
  • Libraries who responded could be broken down into 3 nearly equal categories:
  • Libraries who had implemented more than a year ago.
  • Libraries who had implemented during the previous year, and
  • Libraries still in development.


  • CCK and Views, Classification, Search, and Syndication/Aggregation are the most popular functions according to respondents to the survey.
  • Public and Academic libraries generally agreed about how popular each function was.
  • Notable exceptions
  • User-contributed content which 8 public libraries had implemented versus 3 Academic libraries
  • Multi-user and Personal blogs (14 Public v. 6 Academic)
  • Rich text editing (20 Academic v. 10 Public).

How hard were these tasks?

  • “Learning Drupal”, “Changing the site’s look and feel”, and “Module Selection” were reported as the most difficult tasks in Drupal.
  • “Creating and marking up content”, “Configuring access rights”, and “Installing Drupal” were reported as the least difficult tasks in Drupal.
  • “Getting help in the forums” and “Contributing to Drupal” were also rated as relatively easy.
  • “Finding skilled Drupal Developers”, “Finding skilled Drupal Designers”, and “Finding good documentation” were reported as challenges.
  • In general, Drupal was rated relatively easy
  • No task was reported as difficult by more than 50% of the libraries.
  • 3 tasks (“Creating and marking up content”, “Configuring access rights”, and “Installing Drupal”) were reported as easy by more than 50% of the library.
  • Close to 80% of the libraries reported “Creating and marking up content” as easy.

Who is responsible?

  • The Academic libraries who responded to the survey split almost evenly between having a single person responsible for the use/implementation of Drupal and having the Library’s IT department take responsibility.
  • Public libraries were more than twice as likely to have a single person assume responsibility for the use/implementation of Drupal over having a Library IT department take responsibility. This may reflect the availability of an IT department in the library more than any preference.
  • Similarly, assigning responsibility to a Committee or Task force was nearly twice as likely in an Academic library than in a Public library.
  • Assigning responsibility to a Committee/Task force was reported by one-third as many Public Libraries as reported that a single person had responsibility.
  • Academic libraries reported assigning a Committee/Task force responsibility half as often as an individual.


  • The steep learning curve of Drupal was the by far the most frequently mentioned challenge in implementing and using Drupal.
  • Concerns about staff resistance, staff understanding of the new architecture, and lack of communication were also common themes in the responses.


  • Decentralizing the content, ease of updating content and freeing up the time of the programmer/webmaster were frequently mentioned as benefits of using Drupal.
  • Many libraries also mentioned increased functionality for their web site as a benefit of using Drupal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s