Exhibiting with Wordpress: The building of a digital curation template




Collins, Ian

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Over the past six months, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Libraries built a new Digital Exhibit template from scratch using Wordpress in an attempt to expand the access and reach of both digitized materials and physical exhibits that have been held in our library. This required making wireframes, creating new requirements, retrofitting requirements for the older sites, developing the site in our Wordpress multisite with tools such as the Storefront theme, Site Origin Page Builder, Envira Gallery, and some custom code. Documentation and workshops are also being held to educate the Special Collections and Archives department on how to use this new toolset.

There were 4 main goals for this initiative.

  1. To migrate and redesign older sites based on collections such as the Chicago Urban League Records that were in various states of repair and now in platforms that we couldn't update.
  2. Be able to accommodate new curation ideas and provide a digital component to physical exhibits which often have not had one.
  3. Build something that would fit our branding and manage our content, but also was simple enough for our archivists could to build things with.
  4. Streamline our own Wordpress multisite processes. We had built other exhibit sites during the past 3 or 4 years, but they all hold very different functionality and building blocks which means maintaining them is often a time consuming task for our limited staff. This template would allow for more consistency and harmony across the Wordpress ecosystem going forward.

The project has been a success and the template has been built. The first site is awaiting a few small changes, but overall is in a complete redesigned state that is responsive and accessible. https://culexhibit.blog.library.uic.edu/


Ian Collins is an American librarian with a British name who holds a MSIS from University of Texas at Austin and has been the Digital Services Librarian at the University of Illinois at Chicago for the past four years.