Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Content Management Systems: Trends in Academic Libraries

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Content Management Systems: Trends in Academic Libraries

Article excerpt


Academic libraries, and their parent institutions, are increasingly using Content Management Systems (CMSs) for website management. In this study, the author surveyed academic library web managers from four-year institutions to discover whether they had adopted CMSs, which tools they were using, and their satisfaction with their website management system. Other issues, such as institutional control over library website management, were raised. The survey results showed that CMS satisfaction levels vary by tool and that many libraries do not have input into the selection of their CMS because the determination is made at an institutional level. These findings will be helpful for decision makers involved in the selection of CMSs for academic libraries.


As library websites have evolved over the years, so has their role and complexity. In the beginning, the purpose of most library websites was to convey basic information, such as hours and policies, to library users. As time passed, more and more library products and services became available online, increasing the size and complexity of library websites. Many academic library web designers found that their web authoring tools were no longer adequate for their needs and turned to CMSs to help them manage and maintain their sites.

For other web designers, the choice was not theirs to make. Their institution transitioned to a CMS and required the academic library to follow suit, regardless of whether the library staff had a say in the selection of the CMS or its suitability for the library environment.

The purpose of this study was to examine CMS usage within the academic library market and to provide librarians quantitative and qualitative knowledge to help make decisions when considering switching to, or between, CMSs.

In particular, the objectives of this study were to determine (1) the level of saturation of CMSs in the academic library community; (2) the most popular CMSs within academic libraries, the reasons for the selection of those systems, and satisfaction with those CMSs; (3) if there is a relationship between libraries with their own dedicated Information Technology (IT) staff and those with open source (OS) systems; and (4) if there is a relationship between institutional characteristics and issues surrounding CMS selection.

Although this study largely focuses on CMS adoption and related issues, the library web designers who responded to the survey were asked to identify what method of web management they use if they do not use a CMS and asked about satisfaction with their current system. Thus, information regarding CMS alternatives (such as Adobe's Dreamweaver web content editing software) is also included in the results.

As will be discussed in the literature review, CMSs have been broadly defined in the past. Therefore, for this study participants were informed that only CMSs used to manage their primary public website were of interest. Specifically, CMSs were defined as website management tools through which the appearance and formatting is managed separately from content, so that authors can easily add content regardless of web authoring skills.


Most of the library literature regarding CMS adoption consists of individual case studies describing selection and implementation at specific institutions. There are very few comprehensive surveys of library websites or the personnel in charge of academic library websites to determine trends in CMS usage.

The published studies including CMS usage within academic libraries do not definitively answer whether overall adoption has increased. In 2005 several Georgia State University librarians surveyed web librarians at sixty-three of their peer institutions, and of the sixteen responses, six (or 38 percent) reported use of "CMS technology to run parts of their web site." (1) A 2006 study of web managers from wide range of institutions (Associates to Research) indicated a 26 percent (twenty-four of ninety-four) CMS adoption rate. …

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