WordPress often gets labeled as a blogging platform, but every day people are finding creative new ways of using WordPress. Recently, we came across a new plugin that extends WordPress and use it as the system to manage a library’s collection. It allows you to search items, add users, volunteers, circulations, etc. In this article, we will show you how to run and manage a library collection and circulation system in WordPress. You can run it on a local intranet or the live web, providing patrons access to the library from any where on the go.
We will use a new plugin called Weblibrarian. This plugin was started as a portable, cross-platform system that the Wendell Free Library could use as a transistion system from its current paper card based circulation system to the system that will eventually be rolled out by the regional library system.
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Setting up a Library Site with WebLibrarian
We will start by installing WebLibrarian plugin. Upon activation, you will find a WebLibrarian menu item under Settings. Clicking on it will take you to a configuration page which actually just asks for your Amazon Web Services keys and associate ID. To see all other options you need to go to Users and create a new user with the role Librarian.
Login to the admin area with Librarian user account that you just created. You will see that your WordPress admin dashboard is replaced by WebLibrarian Admin dashboard.
From the WebLibrarian dashboard you can manage collections, patrons, and circulation desks. It works like any other Library software where the librarian is expected to enter the data manually to manage collections. You can also import the data from other sources.
Adding Library Features to The Frontend of your Site
Web Libriarian plugin comes with a user manual, but since most people install plugins from inside their WordPress admin area, there is a chance that you haven’t noticed it. You can download WebLibrarian user manual from publisher’s website. The manual has detailed instructions on using shortcodes within your posts and pages.
For example, you can use this shortcode to add a search form for visitors to search for titles and collections:
There are multiple user roles defined by the plugin. Such as Librarian’s Aide, Volunteers, and Patrons. The Librarian can associate each patron ID with a WordPress user account. Each user can then login to your WordPress site to checkout items, see what they are currently holding and manage their profiles.
This is a very neat way to use WordPress, and we are glad that folks are extending WordPress for interesting use cases like this one. We hope that this article will help some small public libraries in finding a cost-effective solution to manage their collection and circulation digitally. We are looking forward to your comments not just about running a library with WordPress but also about any other kind of WordPress based application that you have seen or worked with.