This project reads like a book. Back in 2017, Cultuurconnect, the organization that supports Flemish public libraries with digital innovation, contracted the development of their new multi-sites. Another party won the tender. The new platform’s goal was to facilitate an individual website for each of the 308 public libraries in Flanders, including a CMS, integration of the online catalogue and a self-service environment in which people could renew and reserve their books.

But it was clear from the launch of the first few websites that the environment was plagued by critical performance issues. For example: downtime, a slow loading time and complaints of website visitors. The further roll-out of the 308 websites did not seem possible on this platform. At that point, Cultuurconnect turned to our team. That’s how the project was handed over to us. 

Think of the improvement of the loading times by using varnish caching (a way of caching in which you reduce traffic on the servers because the page doesn’t have to be reloaded every time), but also of the switch to a progressively decoupled Drupal. We made this switch possible by working out the functionality that only used to exist in the back-end, in the front-end (thanks to VueJS).

Meanwhile, the platform has proven its merit: it is stable, and it functions as it should. Right now, we’re working on the further development of the platform. “A few things on Cultuurconnect’s wish list have already been implemented”, Sofie tells us. “We have for example developed an online payment function. People that have to pay a fine because they didn’t return their book on time, can pay online. Before, this wasn’t possible. Customers can also consult a ‘Reading tipper’ now: based on their reading behavior, they get to see personal suggestions for new books or DVDs.”

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