Currently, we are in the process of evaluating back up CMSs should our current system disappear completely in the lawsuit black hole. I’m noticing a couple of interesting things as I consider these systems from a librarian perspective.

First of all, there’s been a shift from calling these systems and software CMSs to LMSs, generally an acronym for something like “Learning Management Suites” (perhaps to end confusion between “Content Management Systems” and course or class management).

More importantly, I am pleased that most systems are beginning to recognize the need for roles outside the administrator-instructor-student standards that have dominated for so long. Many of the systems we’ve looked at offer multiple roles such a “guest” or “visiting instructor” or even “mentor” as well as customizable roles (which is great for creating librarian roles with specific priveleges). One thing that I find odd is that I haven’t actually seen a system with a “librarian” role. Surely there are many librarians out there actively working within CMS (or LMS) enhanced courses. I’m just surprised that there isn’t more demand for a “librarian” role that it becomes a standard feature of these systems.

Finally, I’m interested in the fact that a couple of systems are pushing the fact that they now not only provide the tools with which to create and structure courses but now they have partenered with companies that offer to provide content for those courses. Publishing companies are partnering with theses LMSs to push their content out easily through them. Here’s the question: How will that effect the resources we use? On one hand it will be great to have electronic materials that are easy to integrate into course sites. On the other hand, will a department that selected a textbook because they felt it was the best for their students feel pressured to pick the material produced by a partner publisher because of the ease with which it can be used in the CMS? And more pressing to me, how will this affect the aquisition of library materials? Will the library feel that kind of pressure too or will we be able to respond positively to a new and easier way for students to use our materials?