I have written about Drupal & the Digital Collections site (http://digitalcollections.mcmaster.ca) a few times now, but haven't really explained how to make a digital collections site out of Drupal. So, without further ado...

What are the necessities of a digital collections site?

What are some additional features that have become necessary?

  • Tagging
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Faceted Searching
  • Visually rich environment
  • Profiles, internal site bookmarking
  • Contact forms, Image requests, Questions
  • Commenting
  • Content Recommendation

So how do you do all of this with Drupal - sans JPEG2000 support (working on that now)? Well, if you are familiar with Drupal, you should know that it is an open source, modular content management system with an amazing support & development community. A standard out of the box Drupal installation will not yield a digital collections site - additional modules are absolutely necessary. Time, effort, and some coding with have to be done, but it is well worth it. The key to all of it is the Content Construction Kit (CCK). Briefly, CCK allows you to create your own fields for a node. So, here is where we get the ability to have all your standard Dublin Core fields, and any other unique metadata a collection will need to be able to present. What I have done with my site is setup a Content Type for each collection. Each content type shares the standard Dublin Core fields (very helpful for massaging an OAI module for digital collections out of an available OAI module), then they have their own unique additional metadata. For example, the World War II German Concentration Camp and Prison Camp Collection has metadata fields for Prison, Sub-Prison, Prison Block, etc.

I have written about the OAI module a couple of times, but essentially what I did is take the OAI-PMH Module, which is an interface for the Bibliography Module, and rework it so it interfaces with the CCK fields I created for the standard Dublin Core fields. I have not had the time to generalize it, (I hope to in the future if time is willing!) so it is hard coded to my collections right now.

Searching is a built in feature of Drupal. Drupal does a pretty good job of creating a search index for itself, as well as advanced searching features. With content types for each collection, users can limit their search to a specific collection or a site wide search.

Browsing a collection can be done by setting up categories and containers for a collections, then placing each record under a specific collection when creating the records or doing a massive mysql update query if you have imported a number of records to start with. Also, for custom browsable options I have used the Views modules to create views for specific metadata fields, and limited them to a collection. Also, the Faceted Search module allows you list all of the fields you would like exposed to faceted search, thereby allowing a user to browse by a variety of field types.

Not too much to say about JPEG2000 support right now. There are two possible scenarios that I am brainstorming with. The first one is Lizard Tech. Before I started here, the Library had purchased a Lizard Tech Express Server license in order to display the mrsid images for the World War I trench maps. The new version of the Lizard Tech server supports JPEG2000, and has an API that I should be able to get Drupal to work with - fingers crossed! The other option is the aDORe djatoka open source JPEG2000 server. I planned on working on this at the Access 2008 Hackfest, but got distracted with SOPAC and Evergreen.

So, now for the rest - additional features...

Tagging is done with the Community Tags module, and tag clouds are created with Tagadelic.

Social Bookmarking is done with the

Faceted Searching is done with the Faceted Search module.

Visually rich environment is done with a variety of modules and custom template coding. Modules that assist in making this possible include; Views (and many views sub-modules), Zen Theme, jquery, Highslide, and Tabs & Quicktabs.

Profiles, internal site bookmarking... user accounts are a standard feature of any content management system. With Drupal we used a custom view and a user hook to allow registered users to bookmark any record to their account.

Contact forms, Image requests, Questions is done with the Contact Form module. Here users can ask questions about records, request images, a report and problems with the site or records.

Commenting is another build in feature of Drupal. Comments are allowed on every record on the site. Unregistered/Anonymous users have to deal with a CAPTCHA, where as registered users do not.

Content Recommendation is done with the Content Recommendation Engine (CRE). This modules interfaces with a number of other modules. The main one that I utilized is the Voting API. The Voting API combined with the CRE allows for a digg like feature on each record. Each record has a Curate It! link, items that have been "curated" are then featured on the Items Curated Page. Drupal also has a popular content feature as well that I utilize.

So, that is pretty much it for the bullet points listed above. I will have another post or two about Drupal in digital collections. Once featuring the all of the modules that I take advantage of, and another covering any questions anybody has.

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