Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Library Automation


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.²

Need & Purpose of Library Automation 

The exponential growth of information has made manual system redundant necessitating requirement of computerized information storage and retrieval. Effective and efficient handling of huge quantum of information is only possible by using computers, which have the added advantage of being highly accurate, and timely that adds value to information. Use of computers in automating the library routines is specifically useful for the following reasons:

Much of the works involved in library are repetitive, tedious, and mechanical in nature requiring accurate updating of records in files.  The same bibliographic record in a library is used to perform multiple operations. Each operation may concern with individual copies of a title. A bibliographic record created at the time of ordering a document is first used for its acquisition, then for technical processing and subsequently for library OPAC, circulation, binding, etc.;

Automation permits decentralized access to a bibliographic record by multiple users. A staff member in a branch library can verify the status of an order without maintaining duplicate files or without making an enquiry. A user can check to see if a book is out on loan or available on the shelf of the library;

The application of information technology in libraries results in increased operational efficiency. It ensures ease of functioning, accuracy and economy in human labour with greater speed;

The library staff, specially the younger ones, finds use of computers interesting and exciting. Use of computers can be a motivating factor for several library staff members;

The IT increases productivity of library staff. It relieves professional staff from clerical chores so that they can be fruitfully used for user-oriented library services; and

It improves quality of services rendered by the library.

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