Building a CMS for the National Library of Australia's 'Trove'

Delivery the mail on horseback

The National Library of Australia is responsible for digitising content from across historical newspapers, audio clips, images and books – culminating in over six billion items on any topic.

They call this ‘Trove’ – a treasure trove connecting Australia and the globe to a world of discovery through hundreds of museums, libraries, galleries, universities, media, government sites and more.

Trove is all about discovery, and delivery. Visitors include academics, researchers and librarians through to a large portion of people simply wanting to research their family history.

The challenge

Although it doesn’t sound it, Trove is much more than a collection of digitised content. News, blog posts and ‘how-to’ articles to keep the Trove community at large engaged. Over the years, for the National Library, it has been a major challenge of maintaining and updating the non-collection content.

Trove National Library Australia website

The solution

The Library needed an open-source platform with adaptable architecture to help the librarians write content, list partners and connect to contributors to create collections.

So in early 2019, Icon Agency was engaged to develop a Content Management System for Trove. The solution enabled Trove content editors to create, update and manage regular content pages on Trove via a user interface that was easy for non developers to use.

Working closely with the Trove project team, Icon Agency developed a hybrid solution that is part headless and part conventional theme-driven. We built a sophisticated set of APIs that expose content as well as configuration for the Trove app to assemble and present through the frontend.

Alongside this solution, regular Drupal content pages are served through Drupal’s theme layer just like a traditional Drupal website.

By capitalising on Drupal’s advanced content management capability and workflow, this new CMS solution provides Trove content editors a seamless and unified interface to manage their content and Trove configuration. Pages served through Trove app and pages served through Drupal are easily identifiable to content editors and end-users.

Visit Trove
Visit the National Library of Australia

The new Trove CMS includes:

  • Drupal theme based on NLA’s design

  • Content management workflows

  • JSON API to expose content that is served by Trove through Vue JS

  • JSON API to expose various Trove configurations

  • Single-sign-on integration with Trove’s user management system

  • Integration with Libraries Australia to keep an up-to-date list of Trove partners