What Is Library Automation?

Topics: Library, Library catalog, School library Pages: 6 (1284 words) Published: March 6, 2008
What is Library Automation?

Library automation can be defined simply as the use of computer and networking technologies in the library. Areas of Library Automation:
•Automation of library functions
•Use of electronic resources within the library (e.g. CD-ROMs) •Accessing remote electronic resources (e.g. the Internet) •Office automation (e.g. word-processing, spreadsheets, databases, etc.) •Patron services (e.g. computer laboratory, multimedia center) Objectives of Library Automation:

•To improve the level of service and quality of output
•To fulfill needs that cannot be achieved by manual system: oSharing of resources
oInformation that appears only in electronic format (e.g. CD-ROM, Internet resources, databases, etc.

Human Factors of Library Automation

"The greatest marvel of technology is that if it breaks down, we can fix it; if it has flaws, we can debug it; if it doesn't work at all, we can ignore it; and if it works well , we can make it work better. No one has as yet figured out a way to debug the human factor. It is the most complicated aspect of any technological system, yet it's the one that gets the least attention, is least discussed, the least researched, and perhaps the least understood." -- Fine (1982, p. 209). In Information technology : critical choices for library decision makers / edited by Allen Kent and Thomas J. Galvin. New York : M. Dekker, 1982. Players in school library automation:

•Teacher Librarian
•Principal and Supervisors
•IT Coordinator and Staff
•Library Staff
Resistance to changes
•Loss of control; uncertainty; more work; concerns about future competence; disruptions of other plans and works; loss of status; etc.

Automation Costs

•Planning and consulting costs
•Purchase of the system, hardware, and software
•Purchase of network-specific hardware, software, and cabling •Internet connection costs
•Conversion of manual records into machine-readable form
•Access, and subscriptions where appropriate, to external databases and systems •Ongoing operating costs
•Maintenance of system hardware and software

Risks in Automation

The most common causes of failure:
•Loss of commitment
•Vendor viability
•Support of higher-level administrators
•Computer center support
•Inadequate resources
•Organizational changes
•Staff attitudes
•Patron attitudes

Library Automation Steps

Planning is time-consuming, but it is usually cost-effective because time spent planning reduces the amount of time required for system implementation. Steps involved are: Step 1: Describing existing library services and technology

•Identifying existing services and functions provided by the library •Identifying existing technology being used in the library •Collecting and organizing basic statistical data
Step 2: Assessing needs and setting priorities
•Who should be involved in planning?
•Needs assessment
•Identifying approaches to satisfy the needs
•Setting priorities
•Developing a preliminary budget
Step 3: Translating needs and priorities into specifications •Designing specifications
•Preparing and distributing the Request for Proposal (RFP) Step 4: Evaluating proposals and selecting a system
•Making the first cut
•Seeing system demonstrations
•Analyzing vendor responses
•Obtaining responses from vendor's clients
•Making the final cut
Step 5: Putting your system into place
•Contract negotiations
•Hardware and software installation
Step 6: Retrospective conversion and barcoding

Automation Options

•Acquiring software to run on a computer already in place •Pursuing in-house software development
•Acquiring a turnkey system for the library
•Acquiring a turnkey system for a consortium of libraries •Relying on the data-processing facilities and staff of the library's parent organization

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