Free and Open Source Options for Creating Database-Driven Subject Guides
At the Supreme Court of Canada Library, I have created close to 2 dozen topical research guides in the past year or so (environmental law, constitutional law, intellectual property, etc.). Periodically, I review them, adding new, relevant material, pruning old stuff or obsolescent sources, rearranging the sections, all of this in static HTML files.
We have discussed scrapping everything and transferring the material into a database system that would make maintenance and updates more efficient and less time-consuming. But we don't have the help of programmers right now.
This article provides a lot of suggestions:
"Productivity is enhanced primarily by improving the process of updating style and content. For example, a popular electronic resource may appear on many subject pages, meaning that updating links would involve multiple edits. In a database-driven world, where content is pulled from a central location in real time, that same update is made once. Graphical user interfaces allow librarians with little or no knowledge of HTML to add resources, thus encouraging increased staff participation. Opportunities for participation and collaboration can also be made available to students and faculty through the use of Weblogs, Wikis, and social bookmarking software (...) In addition to improved workflow and collaboration, database-driven subject guides may give us a way to provide the personalized features and customizable content that users have come to expect. Thanks to work done by libraries to create open-source subject guide applications, the availability of open-source course management systems, and the proliferation of free Web 2.0 tools, the option to create cost-effective, database-driven subject guides is available to all libraries."