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State Stats: Refreshing Reference With Drupal
A.J. Million, MoDOT Transportation Library

Slide 2: Transportation Librarian’s Roundtable

A.J. Million, Librarian
Missouri Dept. of Transportation
anthony.million@sos.mo.gov

with credit to:

John Cherney, Head Librarian
Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation
John.Cherney@dot.wi.gov

Slide 3 : Accountability

  • There are fifty-one departments of transportation.
  • For these DOT’s there are fifty-one different governments.
  • This means there are fifty-one ways of reporting to the public.
  • MoDOT’s Approach

  • Very open, very aggressive, and tied to job responsibilities.
  • The byproduct of previous problems with it’s STIP.
  • Provided in a quarterly publication named the “Tracker.”
  • Requires lots of time and lots of benchmarks.

But how is this connected? And what’s the relationship?



Slide 4: Finding Benchmarks

  • Measuring local performance only shows part of the picture.
  • Had fifty-one (or more) places to look.
  • BTS figures aren’t annual and tend to be national in scope.
  • Staff came to me for facts and figures.

Gotta Be A Better Way

  • Was approached before SLA to see what could be done.
  • Noted that Librarians advocate “open” information.
  • Previous collaboration hinted this was an ongoing problem.
  • Could others help?

So I went to Washington D.C. with all of this in the back of my mind...

Slide 5: SLA Conference and the MTKN

  • Met others for the first time at SLA.
  • Used the opportunity to ask John for MTKN server space. Drupalwas already installed.

Content Management Systems

  • Drupalis a (CMS) Content Management System.
  • Numerous ones exist. They’re very popular.
  • Many are also “open source” and customizable.
  • Allows themes, modules, and push-button tools.
  • Database and (server-side) code driven.

Definition

"A system is designedto simplify the publication of web content to sites and mobile devices, in particular, allowing content creators to submit content without requiring technical knowledge or the uploading of files. ”
-Wikipedia.

Building Everything

  • Started searching State agency websites for annual reports and fact books.
  • Planned the best way to organize available content.
  • Created separate pages for each State.
  • Linked to publications from each State’s page and listed findings by year.

Slide 6:  Plug-ins and Other Tools

  • Manually created spreadsheets of measures and formatted them.
  • Posted them to Scribdand embedded into pages.
  • Scribdis a social media document site.
  • Used Google Maps to show States that were covered.
  • Created a brief YouTube screencastexplaining the site.

Technical Considerations

  • Limited by basic knowledge of PHP.
  • Need to know PHP to program custom plug-ins.
  • Almost all CMS tools require a database and programming language installed (on the server).
  • As a hit and miss designer I snagged an open source theme.

Slide 7: Image

Slide 8: Image

Slide 9: Image

Slide 10: Problems and Lessons Learned

  • Probably would be best to hosing using a separate Drupalinstall.
  • Don’t count on public to help unless it’s easy.
  • Editing functions, while nice, aren’t very user friendly.
  • Not all the data out there is worth your time.
  • Need a long term plan and support.

What You Need To Build Your Pathfinder

  • Server space with MySQLand PHP.
  • Working knowledge of HTML and CSS.
  • Patrons, or an audience, who prefer to find information online.
  • Marketing, marketing, and plenty more marketing.

Let’s take the site for a spin!