Libraby Management Systems

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Library management systems 1991-2000

1. General overview

In one of the first papers on library management systems (LMS) in the UK to be published during the review period of 1991-2000, Arfield [i] describes how the changing economics of computing resulted in staff at Reading University Library wishing to move away from a system shared between various libraries to an integrated library management system under local control. Reading had been a member of the SWALCAP (originally standing for the South Western Academic Libraries Co-operative Automation Project) which had provided shared cataloguing and circulation services to a number of academic libraries in the UK since 1979. However, ageing equipment was becoming increasingly unreliable and staff at Reading felt that the SWALCAP service was unable to cope with the increasing number of terminals that were required for the users. This situation was replicated in other academic and public libraries at the start of the 1990s and many moved over, or migrated, to integrated library management systems (in Reading’s case the LIBS 100 system from CLSI was chosen). Jones [ii], of the House of Lords Library, describes how the decline in the number of customers of the shared services resulted in the decision by SLS (SWALCAP Library Services) to withdraw this service. Following a study undertaken by an external consultant (when it was recommended that a multi-user integrated LMS be chosen) a decision was made to implement the ADVANCE system from the company Geac in the House of Lords. Another reason for libraries choosing to replace their LMS during this period was the fact that some LMSs were not designed to cope with dates in the 2000s –i.e. they were not Year 2000 (or Y2K) compliant. Many of the integrated LMSs, such as CLSI’s LIBS 100 and Geac’s ADVANCE, were developed during the 1980s so that by the 1990s these comprised a number of modules to cover the general library housekeeping functions of: • Cataloguing – creating records for material held in the collection • Circulation – keeping track of who has what item from the collection on loan • Providing access to the catalogue – via an Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) • Acquisitions – selecting and ordering items for the collection and maintaining the accounts • Serials control –managing the acquisition of serial publications and so dealing with challenges such as claiming for missing issues. • Interlibrary lending – to enable books and serials to be borrowed from different libraries. Most LMSs are now integrated, i.e.data is only held once by the system and is then used by all the modules and functions. This has an obvious benefit as a search of an OPAC can inform the user as to the number of copies of the title are held, where they are housed, as well as whether or not they are out on loan, and if so when they are likely to be returned. The libraries of the early 1990s, be they public, university, college, medical, government, legal, industrial, or school, dealt primarily with printed materials such as books, reports, scholarly journals and so on, as well as what were referred to as non-book materials, such as films, videos, tape-slide productions, CD-ROMs and so on. However, by the end of the 1990s the huge impact of the Internet and the World Wide Web meant that staff in libraries increasingly were involved in not just managing the collections housed physically within the four walls of their library building but were also involved in providing access to a vast range of digital information sources of potential relevance to their users which were housed outwith the library building. This mixture of providing access to print and digital collections caused some writers, e.g. Oppenheim and Smithson [iii] , to refer to the development of the hybrid library. For staff working in libraries in the early 1990s the LMSs were, for many, their first experiences in using...
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