More Than a Drupal Migration. Our Longterm Partnership with Indiana University Libraries
More Than a Drupal Migration.
Our Longterm Partnership with Indiana University Libraries

"After over 10 years of maintaining our own special snowflake,
we were like, 'There's got to be a better way, right?'"

— Courtney McDonald, Head of Discovery and User Experience, Indiana University LIbraries


Indiana University Libraries is one of the leading academic research library systems in North America, providing strong collections, quality service and instructional programs, and leadership in the application of information technologies. The main library and branches' research collections include more than 7.8 million books in over 900 languages, and support every academic discipline on campus, with an emphasis in the humanities and social sciences.

In 2012, the Indiana University Libraries’ web presence was spread across multiple microsites on various platforms that were difficult to maintain.

They needed a solution that consolidated their microsites, streamlined content, managed hours of operation across all campuses, and made it easier to cross-promote content and events throughout the libraries.

IUL looked to Bluespark to help them migrate to Drupal and solve these problems.


"I really think there's a lot of advantage to having external eyes be able to give you feedback
about how things are coming across and ask you some of those questions about, why do you
do these things or what's important about those things. It gives you a chance to articulate the

— Courtney McDonald, Head of Discovery and User Experience, Indiana University LIbraries

With a large number of stakeholders and users (both on the frontend and backend of the site), it was important to identify clear organizational objectives for the new website. Key aspects of this project included:

  • Migrating to Drupal,
  • Improving and simplifying search,
  • And offering a better and more consistent format for librarians to create subject-specific sitelets and manage library hours for all of the branch libraries in the IUL system.

Bluespark conducted user research with external users (undergraduate and graduate students as well as non-library faculty) and internal users (library staff, administration and subject librarians) to develop requirements. The site had to provide simplicity for new users as well as a clear, improved design for experienced users who were comfortable with the previous site.

User Experience

Modern and fresh. In 2016, IUL wanted to update their website’s search functionality and general look-and-feel. Starting with the homepage, Bluespark’s creative team modernized the design, incorporated new university brand guidelines, and integrated with the campus-wide engagement portal called One.iu. In the second phase, the Bluespark team extended the design to the libraries sites’ interior pages. This design refresh was launched on time and came in under budget.

Content Management

Prioritized assets. Library systems, by definition, manage large amounts of assets. This was especially true for IUL. Bluepark and the IUL team used goal planning to determine what content was necessary for the end-user and ultimately reduced the number of website pages by 7,000. A content reduction of this magnitude resulted in two distinct things — less work for users to find the right content and simpler methods for staff to update and maintain.

Drupal Migration

Powerful technology. IUL decision makers had already determined that migrating to Drupal would be the best route for managing extensive and varied content requirements with a broad range of users. They had grown out of their legacy custom CMS solution, where page presentation was coupled too tightly to content, leaving them with a less than ideal user experience. And the site architecture created difficulties for internal users as well. Bluespark was chosen for our leading position in the Drupal community, our experience with other university library projects, and our emphasis on a user-centric approach.


Ongoing support. With Bluespark and Indiana University LIbraries, maintenance is a team effort. Internally, IUL makes small development improvements and handles their own releases. Bluespark manages any module updates. This regular contact and consistent collaboration encourages annual planning and allows IUL to stay a step ahead.

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