Thursday, November 6, 2008

LIS 768: Group Project: Extreme Library Makeover: Web Page Edition

Well, if you know me at all, you know that I'm not all that enthusiastic about group projects in classes. I like to do my own work so that I'm not dependent on someone else for a good grade. However, that said, in other classes I have worked with both Chris (twice, I think) and Kay in group projects, so I knew the caliber of their work already. That was most of the worries gone!

For this particular project, we decided to completely re-tool the Winsted Library site. As you can see, it's pretty, um, pathetic. We haven't been in that building for almost 5 years, and although we've asked for the picture (at least) to be changed, it just never seems to get that far. So, as Chris termed it, it needed an Extreme Makeover. That's where our group project title came in: Extreme Library Makeover: Web Page Edition.

Since we had to basically start from scratch, we decided that we'd make the new site using a social software product in order to let the patrons actually be involved in the site, rather than merely viewing it. We chose to use Drupal, which was interesting in and of itself. I tell you what--Drupal is definitely worthy of respect! At first it wasn't very intuitive, but once I really got working with it, it's not so hard. There were other things we wished we could do, but they would've involved getting access to the server, which we didn't have (no doubt we could have asked, we know). The first time we actually thought,"Hey! We kind of know what we're doing here!", or when we'd *finally* mastered something that was almost impossible (search box, anyone? WTG, Chris!!!) was like (as Chris said) winning the Superbowl!

For our group communication, we set up a PB Wiki with our 'wish list' on the first page, and used the second page as kind of a bulletin board-"Here's what I did" "Hey, I'm having problems with ______" --things like that. There were a few times that I know that Chris and I were on the library site at the same time, and I really wished I could 'talk' to him on that site, but had to go through the wiki. It all worked out in the end, though.

The coolest thing about this project was that we did it all remotely. Not once did we have to figure out a good time and place to meet in person. I could work on it at any of the odd hours I keep (and trust me, I totally did).

As to what all of us did (or my part, specifically):
Chris set up the basic site (thank goodness-that was probably the hardest part) and all of us provided content. Obviously, I provided an actual library to use, and could fill in our actual information. As far as pages go, at one point or another we all edited and futzed with every page on there, regardless of what the official "author" of the page is labeled; my main pages were the "About"; "Adults"; and "Kids". I set up the Meebo, Flickr, Twitter, and LibraryThing accounts; Chris figured out how to make them into widgets and how to get them to show up. Chris also came behind me and cleaned up the odd things I managed to do (mostly on accident, LOL..."What's a page? Where did my page GO?!?!"). I was able to use my "mad HTML skillz" more than once, which was great.

The other thing that has always been one of my quirks for schoolwork is that I hate to do it for its sake alone. I like to do things that I can take back to my library and actually implement. This Extreme Makeover was just the ticket. The new web page rocks!