Full version What Is Library Automation?

What Is Library Automation?

This print version free essay What Is Library Automation?.

Category: Technology

Autor: reviewessays 11 February 2011

Words: 1232 | Pages: 5

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:

o Sharing of resources

o Information 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

• Teachers

• Students

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

• Costs

• Obtaining responses from vendor's clients

• Making the final cut

Step 5: Putting your system into place

• Contract negotiations

• Hardware and software installation

• Training

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

A sample of Request For Proposal

• Table of Contents

• Introduction

o Background information on the Library

o General rules and conditions for submission

o Proposal format

• Instructions to vendors

• Training and documentation

• Functional and Technical specifications

• Database creation

• Maintenance

• Delivery and Installation scheduling and site preparation

• Performance specifications

• Acceptance tests

• Warranties

• Cost proposal

Bibliographic Standards

"The creation of a high-quality, machine-readable database provides the cornerstone upon which all future automation efforts will rest. Vendors may come and go, hardware may become obsolete, software may be replaced, but a well-constructed, well-maintained database, with its accompanying local holdings, will be the library's transportable and viable link from system to system." -- extracted from John M. Cohn, etc. Planning for automation, 1992.

Why bibliographic standards?

• Bibliographic standards are well-established and accepted

• To maintain the portability of data

• To enable resource sharing

Library Automation System Selection Guidelines

1. The library automation software must be developed and designed based on the best practices that are internationally adopted in the library profession. These include:

• Adoption of MARC-based bibliographic record. Record can be imported, created, updated and exported using the MARC 21 and ISO 2709 standards.

• Bibliographic and item information must be stored separately in two different types of record so that more than one item records can be attached to one bibliographic record.

• Support of internationally adopted library standards, including ISBD, AACR2, subject heading scheme, classification scheme, etc.

• Automation of library operations and activities, including circulation, public catalog searching, cataloging, ordering, serials control, and reporting.

2. The library automation software must be supported by a team that processes library experience and qualification. This is essential to ensure that the team understand the library requirements and at the same time is able to provide professional advices to the libraries.

3. The software vendor (or developer) must have long-term commitment on the further development of the software. Particularly:

• The vendor should be quick to integrate emerging library standards and new technology to the software. These include: Web and Internet based access to the library catalog, XML and Dublin Core technology, Unicode, etc.

• The vendor must be financially stable.

• The vendor must be specialized in library applications

• The vendor must have periodical upgrade release with new enhancements.

4. The library automation software must be able to support Hong Kong school library environment, these includes:

• Support bilingual (English/Chinese) interface and bilingual (English/Chinese) data

• SAMS (Hong Kong Education Department's School Administration Management System) student data can be imported to the library database

• Support sharing of cataloging records among Hong Kong school libraries

• The software must run on computer and networking equipment commonly used in Hong Kong school libraries

• The initial purchase cost and the annual upgrade cost must be priced at a level affordable by Hong Kong school libraries

Hints for Viewing System Demonstrations

• Request that high priority modules be demonstrated first.

• Request the display of a tagged full MARC record in the Cataloging Module

• Be alert for, and note, functions or operations that cannot be demonstrated.

• Ask if the version that is being demonstrated, for each module, is the same as the version in current release, i.e. what you would be getting if you brought the system. Also ask if the modules demonstrated are included in the price quoted in the RFP.

• Watch for cumbersome or awkward operations within or between functions.

• Request that, in addition to the pre-planned demonstration scenarios, a few specific searches, operations, etc., be performed that are analogous to real situations in your library. Ask each vendor to perform the same specific operations so that there will be a common basis of comparison.

• Take note of specifics about the system's functionality that you judge to be particularly strong, as well as those that appear weak.

• Telecommunications problems with dial-ups and/or lack of expertise on the part of the demonstrator may hamper the effectiveness of the demonstration. Note this separately from any functionality weaknesses.

Why do systems need to be upgraded?

• The library is ready to add new functions

• The library has exceeded the capacity of the original system

• Current software must be upgraded because newer versions have been issued and current versions are no linger supported by the vendor

• Original hardware must be replaced and similar hardware is no longer produced

• The vendor no longer supports the system or ceases operation.