Libraries – An Overview
The importance of libraries in today’s world is extraordinary, especially when millennials and centennials have distanced themselves from the pursuit of knowledge. These victims of technological progression and a consumerist culture are wasting precious hours of their lives immersed in virtual reality. Libraries, especially school and college ones, are becoming deserted halls, infected with cobwebs crawling over rickety walls. They need to be revamped and modernized to lure the students back among the boundless shelves, where the vanilla-scented pages are dying to be explored.
Libraries are facing maintenance and upkeep problems from time immemorial. In the modern age, libraries are suffering from many problems including a lack of space, ineffective staff, and improper management. Without a proper system in place, most libraries portray a quite haphazard picture to the readers. It is a painstaking and meticulous affair to maintain and preserve age-old records and materials. Libraries also face the problems of a lack of financial resources to amass the in-demand publications and writings.
In this cut-throat competitive world, the education system presents far more challenges and demands than ever before. In such a dynamic and volatile environment, the libraries, especially college and university libraries must learn to cater to such ever-changing demands. Therefore, keeping in sync with the technological evolution around it, it is time for libraries to reduce its dependency on manual work and make avail of computers and sophisticated technology for its management and services.
Library Management System
The use of computers in libraries has been happening since the end of the 20th century. Technological progress beckoned for better library management and organization. All around the world, college libraries could foresee the need for computerization for providing the best information service to the members. In India, things took time to take effect.
The INFLIBNET (Information and Library Network Centre) took the onus of revolutionizing college and university libraries by promoting library automation since 1995. Strange as it may sound, in today’s time, high-speed internet is more easily available than food in India. With state-of-the-art technology at hand, an automated library management system is the future for libraries. But the reality says something else. College libraries across India are still dependent on traditional manual methods of information procurement and storage, with little to no use of electronic software. The ordering slips and card catalogue systems are still in vogue. Most of the users are also not aware of the concept of library automation and that their college libraries can be totally computerized for better management and operation.
Library automation means the unmanned electronic software that is equipp with the state-of-the-art technological infrastructure to manage library house-keeping functions and user services. A library management system is also called an integrated library system. It is an enterprise resource planning system, a specialized management software, which includes database management, data processing, storage, networking, etc. that helps keep track of several library functions.
These include members’ profile and subscription, keeping a ledger of books to check the issues and balance, classifying and cataloguing materials, managing orders, unpaid and paid bills, invoicing, etc. It also keeps a database where new books are acquire by the library keeping in mind the current demand or requests from patrons. A library management system automatically keeps a record of the books and the due dates in relation to the borrowed books. Each member has a specific identification code that the software maintains for monitoring.
This novel software has enabled libraries to connect and access different library collections and structural changes in the preservation and storage of materials. The internet has resulted in a paradigm shift in the functioning of libraries. With the help of the internet, members can login to their online library accounts to pre-order books and access the virtual database.
Features of the Library Management System
A library management system is essential for enormous libraries that will reduce the workload and pave the way for the smooth running of the institutions. In the last few years, the arrival of cloud technology allows one to have a cloud-based integrated library management system. The features of this avant-garde technology have been discussed below.
- It works in all the major operating systems including Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- You can generate and print your own barcodes.
- Digital cataloguing and indexing of books. Manage circulation and acquisitions system for library asset management.
- Manage reading details of students, employees, and keep an online record of college books details.
- Members can access the OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue) system on the internet.
- A user-friendly search interface based on factors like categories of books, students, etc.
- Maintains a complete information database about the authors, publishers, etc.
- It is multilingual and multi-user.
- Effectively deals with transactions. Maintains storage, issues, balances.
- Very easy to add the entry of new books to the existing records.
- Simple and uncomplicated interface for both the members and staff.
- Editing, deleting, and updating data are a few clicks away. It saves time and helps you make instant changes to the system enabling proper resources management.
- Results in a reduction of manual labour.
- Easy check-in and check-out keep the patrons satisfied.
- Generates and provides reports for books, students, employees, etc.
- Easy conversion or export of Excel sheet or PDF.
- Calculation of book costs and summary.
- You can classify the books subject-wise which is very much necessary in college libraries.
- Members can avail of the facility of reserving or pre-ordering books when stock is not there. It will also immediately intimate them when stock is available.
- An instant examination or audit of the entire system is possible.
- Making journals and magazines digitally available.
- The basic library management system software is cost-effective.
Library Automation Software in India
As discussed above, the integration of electronic software in libraries is still at its formative stages in India. The numerous roadblocks library automation faces in India are given below.
- The financial drawback is one of the major reasons. To implement sophisticated technology, you need to invest in it.
- People need to be educated in technology. This is a serious problem in developing countries like India where the pedagogy and infrastructure are missing. Lack of training facilities and unavailability of trained staff are major barriers.
- Barcode operations and retrospective conversion of materials need skilled data operators.
- Hardware like barcode printer, servers, barcode scanner, etc. are not insufficient. Also, to acquire good quality hardware you need to invest more.
- Lack of support of college administrations that seem to ignore the need for digitization of materials.
- Improper planning or organization. It needs coordinated efforts from IT professionals, library management teams, and college administrations.
- State government and college authorities must provide ample financial support.
- Proper training needs to be conducted to educate or hone the staff about enterprise resource planning and business management software.
- Librarians and college administrations should choose suitable hardware for automation.
- To secure data, one needs to instate anti-virus software at the same time.
- Data should be backed up from time to time.
If you are searching for a software vendor deploying library management solutions, you should consider discussing your needs with MyEdu and get the best features in the proposed system for library management.