library automation system



An integrated library system (ILS), also known as a library management system (LMS), is an
enterprise resource planning Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is the integrated management of main business processes, often in real time and mediated by software and technology. ERP is usually referred to as a category of business management software—typically a sui ...
system for a
library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are accessible for use and not just for display purposes. A library provides physical (hard copies) or digital access (soft copies) materials, and may be a physical location or a vi ...
, used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed. An ILS usually is constituted of a relational database, software to interact with that database, and two
graphical user interface The GUI ( "UI" by itself is still usually pronounced . or ), graphical user interface, is a form of user interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices through graphical icons and audio indicator such as primary notation, inst ...
s (one for patrons, one for staff). Most ILSes separate software functions into discrete programs called modules, each of them integrated with a unified interface. Examples of modules might include: * acquisitions (ordering, receiving, and invoicing materials) *
cataloging In library and information science, cataloging ( US) or cataloguing ( UK) is the process of creating metadata representing information resources, such as books, sound recordings, moving images, etc. Cataloging provides information such as aut ...
(classifying and indexing materials) * circulation (lending materials to patrons and receiving them back) * serials (tracking magazine, journals, and newspaper holdings) *
online public access catalog The online public access catalog (OPAC), now frequently synonymous with ''library catalog'', is an online database of materials held by a library or group of libraries. Online catalogs have largely replaced the analog card catalogs previously ...
or OPAC (public user interface) Each patron and item has a unique ID in the database that allows the ILS to track its activity.



Prior to computerization, library tasks were performed manually and independently from one another. Selectors ordered materials with ordering slips, cataloguers manually catalogued sources and indexed them with the
card catalog A library catalog (or library catalogue in British English) is a register of all bibliography, bibliographic items found in a library or group of libraries, such as a network of libraries at several locations. A catalog for a group of libra ...
system (in which all bibliographic data was kept on a single index card), fines were collected by local bailiffs, and users signed books out manually, indicating their name on clue cards which were then kept at the circulation desk. Early mechanization came in 1936, when the University of Texas began using a punch card system to manage library circulation. While the punch card system allowed for more efficient tracking of loans, library services were far from being integrated, and no other library task was affected by this change.

1960s: the influence of computer technologies

The next big innovation came with the advent of
MARC standards MARC (machine-readable cataloging) standards are a set of digital formats for the description of items catalogued by libraries, such as books, DVDs, and digital resources. Computerized library catalogs and library management software need to st ...
in the 1960s, which coincided with the growth of computer technologies – ''library automation'' was born. From this point onwards, libraries began experimenting with computers, and, starting in the late 1960s and continuing into the 1970s, bibliographic services utilizing new online technology and the shared MARC vocabulary entered the market; these included OCLC (1967),
Research Libraries Group The Research Libraries Group (RLG) was a U.S.-based library consortium that existed from 1974 until its merger with the OCLC library consortium in 2006. RLG developed the Eureka interlibrary search engine, the RedLightGreen database of bibliograp ...
(which has since merged with OCLC), and the Washington Library Network (which became Western Library Network and is also now part of OCLC). The Intrex Retrieval System ran on CTSS starting in the late 1960s. Intrex was an experimental, pilot-model machine-oriented bibliographic storage and retrieval system with a database that stored a catalog of roughly 15,000 journal articles. It was used to develop and test concepts for library automation.A deployment of three Intrex BRISC CRT consoles for testing at the MIT Engineering Library in 1972 showed that it was preferred over two other systems, ARDS and DATEL.

1970s–1980s: the early integrated library system

The 1970s can be characterized by improvements in computer storage, as well as in telecommunications. As a result of these advances, "turnkey systems on microcomputers", known more commonly as (ILS) finally appeared. These systems included necessary hardware and software which allowed the connection of major circulation tasks, including circulation control and overdue notices. As the technology developed, other library tasks could be accomplished through ILS as well, including acquisition, cataloguing, reservation of titles, and monitoring of serials.

1990s–2000s: the growth of the Internet

With the evolution of the
Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a '' network of networks'' that consists of private, p ...
throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, ILSs began allowing users to more actively engage with their libraries through an
OPAC The online public access catalog (OPAC), now frequently synonymous with ''library catalog'', is an online database of materials held by a library or group of libraries. Online catalogs have largely replaced the analog card catalogs previously u ...
s and online web-based portals. Users could log into their library accounts to reserve or renew books, as well as authenticate themselves for access to library-subscribed
online databases An online database is a database accessible from a local network or the Internet, as opposed to one that is stored locally on an individual computer or its attached storage (such as a CD). Online databases are hosted on websites, made available as s ...
. Education for librarians responded with new focus on systems analysis. Inevitably, during this time, the ILS market grew exponentially. By 2002, the ILS industry averaged sales of approximately US$500 million annually, compared to just US$50 million in 1982.

Mid 2000s–present: increasing costs and customer dissatisfaction

By the mid to late 2000s, ILS vendors had increased not only the number of services offered but also their prices, leading to some dissatisfaction among many smaller libraries. At the same time,
open-source Open source is source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. Products include permission to use the source code, design documents, or content of the product. The open-source model is a decentralized sof ...
ILS was in its early stages of testing. Some libraries began turning to such open-source ILSs as Koha and
Evergreen In botany, an evergreen is a plant which has foliage that remains green and functional through more than one growing season. This also pertains to plants that retain their foliage only in warm climates, and contrasts with deciduous plants, which ...
. Common reasons noted were to avoid vendor lock in, avoid license fees, and participate in software development. Freedom from vendors also allowed libraries to prioritize needs according to urgency, as opposed to what their vendor can offer. Libraries which have moved to open-source ILS have found that vendors are now more likely to provide quality service in order to continue a partnership since they no longer have the power of owning the ILS software and tying down libraries to strict contracts. This has been the case with the SCLENDS consortium; following the success of Evergreen for the Georgia
PINES A pine is any conifer tree or shrub in the genus ''Pinus'' () of the family Pinaceae. ''Pinus'' is the sole genus in the subfamily Pinoideae. The World Flora Online created by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanical Garden accepts ...
library consortium, the South Carolina State Library along with some local public libraries formed the SCLENDS consortium in order to share resources and to take advantage of the open-source nature of the Evergreen ILS to meet their specific needs. By October 2011, just 2 years after SCLENDS began operations, 13 public library systems across 15 counties had already joined the consortium, in addition to the South Carolina State Library. does an annual survey of over 2,400 libraries and noted in 2008 2% of those surveyed used open-source ILS, in 2009 the number increased to 8%, in 2010 12%, and in 2011 11% of the libraries polled had adopted open-source ILSs. The following year's survey (published in April 2013) reported an increase to 14%, stating that "open source ILS products, including Evergreen and Koha, continue to represent a significant portion of industry activity. Of the 794 contracts reported in the public and academic arena, 113, or 14 percent, were for support services for these open source systems."

2010s–present: the rise of cloud based solutions

The use of cloud-based library management systems has increased drastically since the rise of cloud technology started. Subsections: On-site software hosting; Cloud software hosting; Software-as-a-Service (Saas); Single-tenant software hosting; Remote software hosting. According to
NIST The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is an agency of the United States Department of Commerce whose mission is to promote American innovation and industrial competitiveness. NIST's activities are organized into physical sc ...
, cloud computing can include a variety of "characteristics (e.g. self-service, resource pooling, and elasticity), management models (e.g. service, platform, or infrastructure focus), and deployment models (e.g. public, private)", and this is also true of cloud-based library systems.

Software criteria

Distributed software vs. web service

Library computer systems tend to fall into two categories of software: * that purchased on a perpetual license * that purchased as a subscription service (
software as a service Software as a service (SaaS ) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. SaaS is also known as "on-demand software" and Web-based/Web-hosted software. SaaS is co ...
). With distributed software the customer can choose to self-install or to have the system installed by the vendor on their own hardware. The customer can be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the application and the data, or the customer can choose to be supported by the vendor with an annual maintenance contract. Some vendors charge for upgrades to the software. Customers who subscribe to a web (hosted) service upload data to the vendor's remote server through the Internet and may pay a periodic fee to access their data.

Data entry assistance based on ISBN

Many applications can reduce a major portion of manual data entry by populating data fields based upon the entered
ISBN The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier that is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency. An ISBN is assigned to each separate edition and ...
MARC standards MARC (machine-readable cataloging) standards are a set of digital formats for the description of items catalogued by libraries, such as books, DVDs, and digital resources. Computerized library catalogs and library management software need to st ...
technology via the Internet.

Bar code scanning and printing

With most software, users can eliminate some manual entry by using a bar-code scanner. Some software is designed, or can be extended with an additional module, to integrate scanner functionality. Most software vendors provide some type of scanner integration, and some print bar-code labels.

Comparison of open-source ILS platforms

See also

Database management system In computing, a database is an organized collection of data stored and accessed electronically. Small databases can be stored on a file system, while large databases are hosted on computer clusters or cloud storage. The design of databases spa ...
Public library ratings There are several national systems for assessing, evaluating, or otherwise rating the quality of public libraries. United States Basic library statistics (not rankings) were initially maintained by the National Center for Educational Statistics; t ...


Further reading

* *

External links

MARC Records, Systems and Tools
: Network Development and
MARC Standards MARC (machine-readable cataloging) standards are a set of digital formats for the description of items catalogued by libraries, such as books, DVDs, and digital resources. Computerized library catalogs and library management software need to st ...
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the '' de facto'' national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the country. The libra ...

Higher Education Library Technology
(HELibTech) a wiki that covers many aspects of library technology and lists technologies in use in UK Higher Education
Key resources in the field of Library Automation
{{Authority control