Course: Library Automation, Information Storage & Retrieval-I (5643)
Level: MLISSemester: Autumn, 2021
ASSIGNMENT No. 1
Q.1 Define library automation and discuss its advantages and disadvantages with respect to university library.
Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word library automation. The use of automatic machines or processing devices in libraries. The automation may be applied to library administrative activities, office procedures, and delivery of library services to users.
Library automation refers to the use of the computer to automate the typical procedures of libraries such as cataloging and circulation. In the process of library automation, a library makes the use of computers and other technologies to support its systems and services. Library automation is the conversion of a library’s procedures from manual to computerized, such as from a card catalog to an OPAC, or from manual circulation cards to an integrated library system.
Automation is a process of using machinery for easily working and saving human power and time. The main purpose of library automation is to free the librarians and library staff and to allow them to contribute more meaningfully to the spread of knowledge and information. In Library Science automation is ‘the technology concerned with the design and development of the process and system that minimizes the necessity of human intervention in their operation.’¹
Beginning in the 1960s with the development of the machine-readable catalog record (MARC), the process of automation has expanded to include the core functions of acquisitions, cataloging and authority control, serials control, circulation and inventory, and interlibrary loan and document delivery. The library automation field is currently dominated by a handful of systems vendors (Auto-Graphics, EOS International, Ex Libris, Follett, Innovative Interfaces, Polaris Library Systems, SirsiDynix, TLC, and VTLS).²
Recent trends in library automation include the growing importance of “add-ons” mostly related to the delivery of digital content (link resolvers, portal and metasearch interfaces, and e-resource management modules often provided by third-party vendors), better integration with the Web environment (rewriting fat PC clients as browser applications, using XML and style sheets for display, and developing XML import and export capabilities) and for academic libraries, closer integration of library systems with learning management systems.
Definitions of Library Automation
The Oxford English Dictionary (Simpson & Weiner, 1989) defines automation as “application of automatic control to any branch of industry or science by extension, the use of electronic or mechanical devices to replace human labour”.
ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science defines automation as “the performance of an operation, a series of operation or a process by self activating, self controlling, or automatic means. Automation implies use of automatic data processing equipment such as a computer or other labour saving devices”. Although, the term automation was first introduced by D. S. Harder in 1936, the word library automation is being used in literature for the last five decades.
According to Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (Kent, 1977) “Library Automation is the use of automatic and semiautomatic data processing machines to perform such traditional library activities as acquisitions, cataloguing and circulation. These activities are not necessarily performed in traditional ways, the activities themselves are those traditionally associated with libraries; library automation may thus be distinguished from related fields such as information retrieval, automatic indexing and abstracting and automatic textual analysis”.
Library automation is the general term for ICT trends and techniques that are used for replacing manual system in the library. The term “integrated library system” refers to sharing of a common database (for documents and patrons) to perform all the basic functions of a library.
History of Library Automation
The initial work on library automation began in 1930’s when punch card equipment was implemented for circulation and acquisition in libraries. During the 1930’s and early 1940’s progress on computer systems was slow because of depression and World War II. The library automation progressed along with the developments in computer and communication technology. The landmark developments in history of library automation are as follows:
•From 1946 to 1947, two significant computers were built. The ENIAC I (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator) computer was developed by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert at the University of Pennsylvania. It contained over 18,000 vacuum tubes, weighed thirty tons and was housed in two stories of a building. Another computer, EDVAC, was designed to store two programs at once and switch between the sets of instructions.
•A major breakthrough occurred in 1947 when Bell Laboratories replaced vacuum tubes with the invention of the transistor. The transistors decreased the size of the computer, and at the same time increased the speed and capacity.
•The UNIVAC I (Universal Automatic Computer) became the first computer using transistors and was used at the U.S. Bureau of the Census from 1951 until 1963. Software development also was in progress during this time. Operating systems and programming languages were developed for the computers being built.
•Invention of integrated circuit by Robert Noyce of Intel and Jack Kirby of Texas Instruments in 1960s can be considered as yet another landmark. All the components of an electronic circuit were placed onto a single “chip” of silicon.
•Development of a new indexing technique called “keyword in context” (KWIC) by H.P. Luhn, in 1961 for articles appearing in Chemical Abstracts. Although keyword indexing was not new, it was found to be very suitable for the computer as it was inexpensive and it presented multiple access points.
•Use of computer for the production of machine readable catalogue records by the Library of Congress (LoC) in mid-1960s. Between 1965 and 1968, LoC began the MARC I project, followed quickly by MARC II. MARC was designed as way of “tagging” bibliographic records using 3-digit numbers to identify fields.
•The MARC II format became the basis of a standard incorporated by NISO (National Information Standards Organization) in 1974. This was a significant development because the standards meant that a bibliographic record could be read and transferred by the computer between different library systems.
Q.2 Define the term integrated system. Why evaluation of the system is important? Discuss in brief any two library systems used in Pakistan.
System Integration refers to the process by which multiple individual subsystems or sub-components are combined into one all-encompassing larger system thereby allowing the subsystems to function together.
System integration is defined in engineering as the process of bringing together the component sub-systems into one system (an aggregation of subsystems cooperating so that the system is able to deliver the overarching functionality) and ensuring that the subsystems function together as a system, and in information technology as the process of linking together different computing systems and software applications physically or functionally, to act as a coordinated whole.
The system integrator integrates discrete systems utilizing a variety of techniques such as computer networking, enterprise application integration, business process management or manual programming.
System integration involves integrating existing, often disparate systems in such a way “that focuses on increasing value to the customer” (e.g., improved product quality and performance) while at the same time providing value to the company (e.g., reducing operational costs and improving response time). In the modern world connected by Internet, the role of system integration engineers is important: more and more systems are designed to connect, both within the system under construction and to systems that are already deployed.
Improve program design and implementation. It is important to periodically assess and adapt your activities to ensure they are as effective as they can be. Evaluation can help you identify areas for improvement and ultimately help you realize your goals more efficiently.
Importance of Evaluation
Evaluation provides a systematic method to study a program, practice, intervention, or initiative to understand how well it achieves its goals. Evaluations help determine what works well and what could be improved in a program or initiative. Program evaluations can be used to:
- Demonstrate impact to funders
- Suggest improvements for continued efforts
- Seek support for continuing the program
- Gather information on the approach that can be shared with others
- Help determine if an approach would be appropriate to replicate in other locations with similar needs
For evaluation considerations for specific types of programs, see:
- Aging in Place
- Access to Care for Rural People with Disabilities Toolkit
- Care Coordination Toolkit
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Toolkit
- Community Health Workers Toolkit
- Community Paramedicine Toolkit
- Diabetes Prevention and Management Toolkit
- Early Childhood Health Promotion Toolkit
- Health Networks and Coalitions Toolkit
- Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Toolkit
- HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment Toolkit
- Maternal Health Toolkit
- Mental Health Toolkit
- Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD Toolkit)
- Obesity Toolkit
- Oral Health Toolkit
- Prevention and Treatment of Substance Use Disorders Toolkit
- Services Integration Toolkit
- Social Determinants of Health Toolkit
- Suicide Prevention Toolkit
- Telehealth Toolkit
- Tobacco Control and Prevention Toolkit
- Transportation Toolkit
The Rural Philanthropy Toolkit identifies evaluation considerations for working with funders.
Q.3 Selecting a right vender to purchase library integrated software is important. Justify your answer.
Choosing software is not a quick or easy process. Many small business owners and managers know they need a new system but are put off by the number of competing products, the amount of time needed to evaluate each one, or a fear of choosing the wrong solution. We know you can’t afford to make a mistake, in small businesses we just don’t have resources to spare, so it’s important to get it right first time.
Following these 7 steps to software selection will help you make a good decision when choosing software for your small business!
- Know your objective (or “What’s the point?”)
This first step in choosing the right software tools for your business is knowing what you want the software to do.
You cannot be successful in your software search unless you know what you are looking for!
We can often break this down into three areas:
- Know the process. What must the system do?
- Know the pain points. What problems must the new solution solve?
- Know it’s value. What would a solution be worth? Can you quantify the strategic benefits of the new system, or the costs savings, or the time savings?
It is import to involve your team early on. Bring in anyone who will be dealing with the system at this point. They will know better than anyone the problems associated with the current way of working. They’ll also need reassuring that the new system will actually be better than the current way of working. The best way to calm those fears is to ensure that their needs make it into the requirements list.
- Create a list of software requirements
Having established why you need the software, it is time to get a bit more specific. If you have a large team, it may be worth involving just a few “champions” for this stage. It is important that everyone has a voice, but trying to involve every individual is not manageable. Ask for a few volunteers to help you define the system requirements. These “champions” should be regular system users, be well liked and assertive enough to speak up in group discussions.
With your champions, you’ll want to put together a comprehensive list of requirements for the new system. If you find discussions getting off track, focus on the purpose of the system that you set in step 1.
Important requirements to capture are:
- Functional requirements – what do you need the software to do. It is easy to take things for granted at this stage, so take your time and list everything.
- Usability requirements. By “usability” I mean ease-of-use. Think carefully and honestly about the skillset of your own team. Are they going to be comfortable using a command-line tool, are they used to navigating using keyboard shortcuts, or are they mousers? These criteria are difficult to articulate, but don’t lose track of them!
- Technological preferences. Do you want a cloud-based system or on-premises? Windows or Mac? Should the data be housed in a SQL Server instance, or Oracle? You get the idea.
- Budgetary requirements. Using the work we did in step 1, now set a budget. What can you afford to pay, and what is the system worth to your business? At what price would the system actually save you money – i.e. provide you with a Return on Investment (ROI)?
- Reporting requirements. Will you need reports from the system? If so, what needs to be included? Should these be emailed to you, or presented as dashboards?
- What volumes do you currently experience? Do you expect these volumes to rise over the next 2 to 5 years?
- Vendor requirements. Record any requirements of the supplier themselves. Perhaps this includes the vendor’s roadmap for future development, current user volumes, years in business, or support response times.
Now go through the requirements and rank them on a scale from “Fundamental” to “Nice to have”. Unfortunately, it is unlikely you’ll find an off-the-shelf package that hits every one of your criteria, so think now about which ones you’d be happy to compromise over.
- Start searching for relevant applications
At this point, you want to create a long list of all possible software packages. It’s best to put them into a spreadsheet, ready for comparing later. At this point though, don’t waste time evaluating the systems, just list them all out.
Of course, you could search Google for the type of system you need. Remember though that Google’s ranking is not an indication of how good the software is! Just because the company’s marketers are good at their jobs – and can get their website at the top of Google’s results page – doesn’t mean the system will be a good fit for you!
Try software comparison sites instead as a way of listing all the contenders. There are quite a few out there:
Each site has its strengths and weaknesses. AppInsight is our own software directory tool and includes shortlisting and comparison features for registered users, but is quite specialist. We also find G2 Crowd useful, especially for the evaluation steps that come later.
If you work in a niche industry, you may also find supplier listings in a trade magazine or website.
- Start excluding solutions
Now that you have your (very) long list of contenders, it’s time to start whittling it down.
Your aim in this step is to identify unsuitable entries as quickly as possible. There is no point wasting time evaluating a system that will ultimately turn out to be unsuitable. To do this go through the list one at a time and concentrate on a few simple criteria from your requirements list. A good place to start is with:
- Technology preferences. If it only works on Macs and you are on Windows, great, that’s one less to look at. If it is on-premises, and you’re looking for a cloud-based solution – cross it off the list.
- If it is too expensive, make a note of the price and move on.
You can quickly exclude systems on these two criteria without wasting time on demos or trials. Ideally, you’ll end up with a short list of between say, 5 and 10 software systems.
If your list is still too long, then identify a few criteria from your “Fundamental” criteria that may be unique or unusual and reassess the remaining contenders using these. What classifies as “Unique” criteria will depend on your needs. From your list so far, you’ll probably have a good idea of what an average system looks like. Look for one of your requirements that is not included in the average offering. This process should shorten your list to a more manageable size.
Q.4 Discuss the assessment criteria of an integrated multilingual library system.
An integrated library system (ILS), also known as a library management system (LMS), is an enterprise resource planning system for a library, used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed.
An ILS usually is constituted of relational database, software to interact with that database, and two graphical user interfaces (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(classifying and indexing materials)
- circulation (lending materials to patrons and receiving them back)
- serials(tracking magazine, journals, and newspaper holdings)
- online public access catalogor OPAC (public user interface)
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 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 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 (which has since merged with OCLC), and the Washington Library Network (which became Western Library Network and is also now part of OCLC).
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 integrated library management systems (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 throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, ILSs began allowing users to more actively engage with their libraries through an OPACs 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. 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 ILS was in its early stages of testing. Some libraries began turning to such open source ILSs as Koha and Evergreen. 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 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.
Librarytechnology.org 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.
Q.5 Discuss in detail the planning process of automating a public library.
Planning for library automation has been defined as planning for “integrated systems” that computerize an array of traditional library functions using a common database (Cohn, Kelsey &Fiels, 1992, v.) While this is still generally true, rapid technological change is forcing a reexamination of what it means to “automate the library.” As physical, spatial and temporal barriers to acquiring information continue to crumble, libraries must plan for a broader and more comprehensive approach to providing automated services.
Four years ago, the authors anticipated:
� vastly expanded storage of indexes, statistical data bases, and document databases within the library;
� full-text storage of documents, complete with full-text keyword searching and on-demand printing;
� access by users to library databases from home or office, with direct downloading of information and text on demand;
� the ability to access remote databases across the country and the world, and to download information and text on demand;
� storage of pictorial and graphic material; and,
� availability of “intelligent systems” providing transparent, one-step searching and access to various library in-house and remote databases. (Cohn, Kelsey &Fiels, 1992, p. 111.)
These capabilities and far more have become reality. Accordingly, today’s integrated system must not only provide access to the traditional cataloging, circulation, public catalog (OPAC) and acquisitions modules, but must be capable of connecting through the local system into the systems of other vendors, remote bibliographic databases, CD-ROM drives on a local area network (LAN), and the Internet. Users are expecting that their library systems be capable of, among other things:
� providing seamless integration between system gateway and OPAC modules;
� providing access for external users on the Internet to the library’s OPAC;
� monitoring the usage of remote databases that have been accessed through the gateway; and,
� accessing the Internet using a variety of graphical interfaces.
Essentially, what this means is that libraries must plan to use a local library system as a vehicle for achieving access to resources outside that system. Stimulated by the Internet, which has created universal connectivity to information resources heretofore unknown and/or inaccessible, and by Z39.50 interoperability standards and “gateways,” users of individual local systems are expecting to access the resources of other systems– anywhere and anytime. Moreover, the traditional definition of “publishing” has been stretched by the creation and instant availability of informational home pages and Web sites worldwide.
Given such increased complexities and heightened levels of expectation, libraries must learn all the more how to plan for the introduction of automation in an organized and systematic fashion. There is little mystery involved here: It is entirely a matter of building upon what you already know about your library, using tools that are readily at hand and, most importantly of all, involving the people — staff and users — who must live with the consequences of any automation decisions.
- THE FIRST STEP: DEVELOPING A LIBRARY “PROFILE”
One of the most important planning tools involves collecting basic statistical information on the library and its operations. You will find that the same basic data will be needed again and again — whether for vendors from whom you are requesting cost estimates, or for other libraries with whom you may be seeking to cooperate in implementing automation.
The following are examples of commonly needed data:
� Number of titles and volumes in the collection, current and projected;
� Number of borrowers, current and projected;
� Number of materials circulated, current and projected;
� Number of new materials acquired, current and projected;
�Interlibrary loans, lent to and borrowed from other libraries;
� Description of any cooperative arrangements involving the library; and,
� Library address and hours of operation.
In addition, it is important to take stock of any existing automation in the library by compiling the following data:
� Percentage of collection that has catalog records in machine-readable form;
� Description of collection without machine-readable records, by category (e.g. monographs, audiovisuals);
� Description of currently-automated library functions (if any);
� Estimates of the location and number of workstations (to show where you intend to have equipment in any future system); and,
� Specifications for any existing equipment to be re-used with any future system (if any).
At the same time that this data is being assembled, it is important to assess user needs and set service priorities. This can be accomplished by undertaking a focused, strategic planning process designed to involve the library’s “stakeholders.”
- DEVELOPING A STRATEGIC PLAN
A library planning to automate should undertake a process by which representative staff and users can identify service needs and objectives. The purpose of such an effort is to allow participants to articulate their interests and concerns, share perspectives and learn about possibilities in a collaborative setting. Group interaction is an important contributing factor in the success of the goal, which is to develop and sustain library automation in the years ahead.
Here are the basic steps involved in this process:
� Plan on a two-day, intensive planning effort.
� Ask participants to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the library’s environment (known as “SWOT” factors in strategic planning) that are characteristic of or that confront the library.
� Group these factors into critical issue areas that are likely to have an impact on the libraries’ future in developing and sustaining automation.
� Ask participants to identify ideas and perceptions in relation to the question: “How do you see the library providing user-friendly, cost-effective automated services in five years?”
�Through a method of your own devising, ask participants to prioritize all of the ideas that come out of the above two “brainstorming” exercises.
� Ask participants to shape these priorities into the draft of a strategic “vision” for automation development consisting of a statement of purpose, goals and objectives for the library.
- SETTING SERVICE PRIORITIES
Your strategic vision must now provide the framework or context for the next step in the automation process, which is to determine which library functions should be automated and in what order of priority. For example, processes that are repetitive, occupy large amounts of staff time, require retrieving information from large, unwieldy files, or are high-profile functions of the library (such as the public catalog) are prime candidates for automation.
Determining the functions that you wish to automate and their priorities relative to each other is important for all sorts of reasons. If needs and priorities are clear, functions can be automated in phases, allowing for more effective use of frequently scarce funding. Moreover, it is a way to develop credibility with funding agencies and be able to take advantage of “sudden” funding opportunities. Finally, evaluations of systems and options will be easier and more productive if you are able to match your highest functional priorities against the corresponding modules available in the marketplace.
- A WORD ABOUT COSTS…
Speaking of funding, planners need to be aware that there are certain cost elements involved in the installation and operation of any automated system. These may be summarized as follows:
� PLANNING AND CONSULTING COSTS include direct, out-of-pocket costs (e.g., hiring a consultant) and indirect costs (e.g., training staff) associated with getting started.
� PURCHASE OF THE SYSTEM includes the cost of acquiring the initial system hardware and software, as well as the cost of preparing a site for the computer system.
� TELECOMMUNICATIONS costs are those fees paid to telecommunications companies or agencies for connecting remote terminals or workstations to a central computer system.
� CONVERSION costs are those associated with the creation of machine-readable bibliographic and, for circulation systems, patron, records.
� ON-GOING OPERATING costs include…
– maintenance fees
– utility costs
– bar code labels
– miscellaneous supply costs
– telecommunications costs
– salaries and benefits (if extra staff are hired)
� ADDITIONS TO THE EXISTING SYSTEM may be required to maintain performance specifications, to accommodate new users, or to allow for additional automated functions.
- TURNING SERVICE PRIORITIES INTO SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS
At some point, you will need to re-formulate your functional priorities into “functional specifications,” which may be defined as what you want an automated system to do for you, including things that your current manual system cannot do. “Technical specifications” must also be established. These include standards that must be adhered to, system performance, operation, and maintenance, as well as infrastructure requirements, such as stable sources of electricity and telecommunications, and sufficient bandwidth.
Developing clear and accurate functional and technical specifications that are specific to your library is one of the most important, if not THE most important, activity that you will engage in as you plan for your automated system. These specifications will carry you through the entire procurement process, and will ensure that the system which most closely matches them will be the most useful and the most responsive to your needs.
- DEVELOPING A FORMAL SPECIFICATIONS DOCUMENT
It is very difficult to compare systems sensibly and pragmatically solely by randomly looking at systems, talking to sales representatives, reading literature or comparing broad cost quotations. For this reason, libraries use a formal document — often known as a “Request for Proposal,” or RFP — that organizes and standardizes the information provided to and requested from the various system vendors.
Utilizing an RFP to solicit written responses from vendors makes it possible for you to systematically compare functionality, cost, maintenance, support, and all the other issues that are involved in system procurements. The process can save you money and will result in a wiser decision.
An RFP document should include these essential elements, among others:
� background information on the library;
� a description of how the proposals should be arranged and submitted;
� instructions on receiving vendor business and financial information;
� criteria the library will use to evaluate vendor proposals;
� questions regarding vendor training and documentation;
� your functional and technical specifications;
Also, vendors should be asked to describe:
� how they will create bibliographic, item and borrower databases;
� their system maintenance programs and services;
� their site preparation requirements;
� their delivery and installation methodologies;
� their system performance guarantees; and
� their pricing and cost strategies, in detail.