Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Creating a Digital Archives with WordPress

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Creating a Digital Archives with WordPress

Article excerpt

Bogan discusses the approaches taken by several archives in using WordPress, the affordances inherent in the CMS for archives, and how it may, in the future, be an even better fit for the archival community.

WordPress has become much more than a blogging tool and is now considered to be one of the most widely used open source CMSs worldwide. The expansion of WordPress's role means that all sorts of organizations are considering this software to manage their collections; one such possibility is for archives to use this tool to display their digital content. This article will look at what CMS options are available for digital archives (sometimes more broadly referred to as digital libraries), how archives are currently utilizing WordPress, and the possibilities the release of WordPress 3.0 creates for digital archives.

CMS for Digital Archives

Before delving into the world of WordPress, let's look at other CMSs that are available for digital archives. There are large CMSs designed without a specific audience in mind, like Drupal and Joomla! Others were designed specifically for libraries, archives, and museums; these include CONTENTdm, Greenstone, and Omeka. Note that this is neither an exhaustive list nor an in-depth look at any of these solutions.

Drupal is a PHP/MySQL-based, open source CMS that has been around since 2001. It was not designed specifically with libraries, archives, and museums in mind, but it can be used for anything from personal blogs to corporate sites. It has a sophisticated programming interface that can be daunting to new users. Once its steep learning curve is overcome, Drupal allows extensive customization and social features, and it has a large open source community supporting it. One of the biggest downsides to Drupal is that it is considered to be more developer-friendly than user- or designer-friendly.


Joomla!, like Drupal, is a PHP/MySQL-based, open source CMS that was not designed specifically for libraries, archives, and museums. It has been available since 2005 and is considered relatively user-friendly. It is also considered to be flexible and allows for extensive customization if the user has the appropriate technological skills. Joomla!'s biggest disadvantage is that it cannot create multisites.


CONTENTdm, distributed by OCLC, is a digital content management software designed specifically for libraries, archives, and museums that has been used widely since 2001. It runs on a Windows-based system and allows for integration with other OCLC products, including WorldCat. CONTENTdm can be hosted locally or through OCLC. It claims to handle any file type and can be used as a digital library, an institutional repository, or a combination of the two. It is an out-of-the-box system, but customization is possible through an API. It allows for batch processing and is standards-based, including Z39.50, Dublin Core, VRA, OAI-PMH, and METS. The major disadvantages of CONTENTdm are that it is a pay service, with price increasing based on number of items, and that it does not have the Web 2.0 functionality desired by many institutions.


Around since 1996, Greenstone was developed as an open source suite of software tools by the New Zealand Digital Library project for the building and distribution of digital library collections. This software allows users to create content in a variety of formats, including JPG, MP3, and PDF, that can be published on the Internet or to a CD-ROM. It is platform-independent and uses Dublin Core as its default metadata standard, although any standard can be used. The limitations of Greenstone are that it is item-centric, it contains complicated URLs, and it is difficult to authenticate and add users.


The final open source library-, archives-, and museums-specific product is Omeka. …

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