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(Guest blog post from Abdrahamane Anne of the Library of the Faculty of Medicine Pharmacy and Dentistry, University of Bamako, Mali. This workshop was part of the eIFL-FOSS Skills and Tools Workshops initiative.)
As a continuation of the skills and tools workshop series, The Malian Library Consortium (COMBI) in partnership with the Malian Reseau Malian (REMADOC) and the Malian Linux User Group (AMULL) organized, from June 1st to June 5th 2009, a workshop on the SPIP content management system. The workshop was attended by 13 librarians from public, private, university libraries. During 5 days participants learned how to install and configure SPIP, create content, and customize the look and feel of a website. The goal was to teach participants how to use a Content Management System (CMS) for maintaining their institution website.
Web presence increases the visibility of information units and makes their services more accessible to potential users. However few Malian libraries have a web presence. In the Malian context, a librarian in charge of the website plays different roles : he is an application administrator, a content manager, and a webmaster. By the end of the workshop participants were expected to acquire the necessary skills to play all roles.
SPIP is one of the most popular content management systems in French speaking countries. It is a PHP/MySQL application that runs on different platforms. Like most CMS it has two interfaces : a private one and a public one. The private interface is used for administrative tasks ; content creation, organization and management and a public interface accessible to visitors. The objectives were to give the participants the skills to work with the private interface and customize the public side.
Many aspects and functionalities of the software were covered during the workshop. Participants learned how to structure and organize content using categories, how to create content, and manage images.
First of all trainees learned how to install and configure the software. Each participant had the opportunity to install on Ubuntu powered PC. Next participants learned how to structure and organize content using categories. Each participant used his information unit as a case study and created the different categories that are suitable for organizing content from his organization.
Step by step participants were taken through the content creation process. Each participant created different articles and at the same time learned about the content creation work flow and content life cycle. Participants also learned how to management images and include them into the website content.
Finally participants learned how to create templates. Templates control how content is being displayed and presented to visitors. Using SPIP templating language participants learned how to customize the look and feel of their website.
Trainers presented different websites powered with SPIP. They showed both the private interface and the public sides of these sites in order to illustrate how flexible SPIP can be in organizing content and customizing the website look and feel. The workshop consisted of different teaching methods. It was mainly hands on sessions. The trainer after giving instruction would take all participants through a process of accomplishing a particular task. Then each of them would be asked to repeat the actions on their own. Participants had the opportunity to discuss and share their experience about website creation management. Even though some of them had experience with website creation, few of then had used a content management system before.
The workshop was held at the Campus Numérique Francophone de Bamako, the local branch of the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie. CNFB expressed its willingness to assist the participants after the workshop and offered to host websites for those organizations which cannot afford the cost of hosting their website with commercial hosting companies.
Credits : I would like to thank Mohamed Diarra whose notes and initial report was partly used to draft this report.