Drupal...Drupal Everywhere!

By Daniel A. Freeman |

You may have caught some of the strong discussion that followed Kate Sheehan's post on Drupal from earlier this week. Karen Schneider also discussed the post here.

It's interesting to note that despite the fact that there wasn't much about Drupal in most people's 2009 predictions, there has been a lot of discussion about Drupal in the blogosphere as 2008 turned into 2009.

Librarian in Black has some reflections on Drupal training here.

Karen has been discussing her experiences with Drupal for a while, and continues to do so in 2009.

blogwithoutalibrary did this amazing three part series late last year.

As many of you know, we moved our blog over to Drupal last year. I did find the learning curve to be a bit steep, but I don't think that saying that really tells the entire story. Its true if you start working with Drupal from scratch and attempt to learn how to use it either by yourself or with minimal instruction, the process is probably going to be a little intimidating. Still, what I perceived to be a steep learning curve (and I'm definitely still learning) has not prevented me from seeing many of the benefits of the switch. I had some trouble learning, but I have still become very, very pro-Drupal.

I'm not a developer or a programmer, but I'm definitely a tinkerer, so I decided to start by trying to see what I could learn on my own. I definitely found myself asking other people with more experience for advice within the first couple of hours. I definitely felt the "steep learning curve" criticism was valid at that point, but now that I've learned a lot more, I think part of the problem could be a lack of instructional resources as opposed to the product itself.

Drupal may not have an intuitive interface, but it's not as if it's completely illogical. I'm a firm believer that almost anyone can learn almost anything with the right instructional tools (and I had a math teacher who actually got me to understand calculus once, so I know that from personal experience). Maybe we need better learning resources for Drupal. Given that it is often used to manage the fruits of Web 2.0, wouldn't it make sense to use Web 2.0 as a way to provide resources on Drupal?

Ongoing learning and self-teaching are absolutely crucial to our profession. We are constantly learning new tools and increasingly, new technologies. There are many in our field who never heard the word "Internet" in library school, yet they have transformed their own skills brilliantly as the technology of the profession changed. Given that, I think we have set the bar for learning new technologies very high. When a new tool comes along that some of us feel has a steep learning curve, we might get a bit frustrated that it isn't as intuitive as learning to build a web site or administer an ILS.

The bottom line--we are lucky to have technologies like Drupal. They make our lives easier (sometimes) and allow us to do more professionally. The methods for self-teaching may not be perfected yet, and even if they are at some point, there will still be many of us who require instruction. If that's a problem, it's a problem we should be glad to have.