Integrated Library Systems

Integrated Library Systems:

An integrated library system (ILS), also known as a library management system (LMS), is an enterprise resource planning system for a library, employed to track items owned, bills paid, orders made and patrons who have borrowed.

Usually an ILS comprises a relational database, software to interact along with that database, and two graphical user interfaces (one for staff, one for patrons). Most ILSes separate software functions into discrete programs called modules, each of them integrated along with a unified interface. For example:

  • Acquisitions ( receiving, ordering and invoicing materials)
  • Cataloging (classifying & indexing materials)
  • Serials (tracking magazine and newspaper holdings)
  • Circulation (lending materials to patrons and receiving them back)
  • The OPAC (public interface for users)


Role of Integrated library system:

The role of the integrated library system is to help in manage the effective delivery of library services. Traditionally this has been anchored on the management of the physical collection and catalogue. The core business & service model could be defined as 'Acquire - Catalogue - Circulate'. Increasingly it is no longer the case.

Whereas the physical collection remains a critical aspect of the library service, it is only one of a number of or ‘granular’ or 'atomic' services presented through the library. The only distinctive feature of the local collection is the physical location of the resources; a facet that is irrelevant increasingly in todays networked world. Today Libraries present a more holistic information environment; therefore the role of library systems is to make the management and delivery of that environment both efficient and effective.

The service and business model is evolving from cataloguing, acquiring and circulating physical collections to specializing, synthesizing and mobilizing Web-based services. Whereas the transition is undoubtedly evolutionary, it is not at all apparent that the systems need to support the new paradigm are an evolutionary development of the traditional Information and Library Service (ILS).

The current generation of federated search systems, resource-sharing systems, link resolvers, and electronic record management (ERM) systems are beginning to address the new model; the approach, though, is somewhat piecemeal, driven by the identification of particular market opportunities. The fact that these new components are being delivered typically as stand-alone, yet integratable, components is indicative of the current state of the evolution:

  • No clear model yet exists for the shape of future library services & systems.
  • It is not clear where the ILS fits in the future strategy.
  • There is a period of market disruption providing chances for new and existing players to reposition themselves in the market.

In making the transition to this new model there are various significant challenges to be defeat by all of the players in the information supply chain: libraries, content suppliers, system vendors, and network service providers.

Now online library systems are installed in most libraries across the world. They enable users to discover for books to see if the library has them in stock, reserve or request books plus use some online research facilities. Several debate the disadvantages and advantages of these online library systems but most will agree that the advantages are more prevailing.

Some of the advantages of an online library system include:

Round the clock availability and multiple accesses:

An online library system, in specific one that can be accessed at home, enables library users to find the library system at any time of day & night. It also means that various people can use the system at once. It is comparable to an offline system that would need users to queue to speak to a librarian.

Ease of information retrieval:

Data regarding books can be stored with dates, keywords and additional information. It means that users can discover for books that were published in a certain year, contain information regarding a certain topic or fall in a certain genre with ease. It also let them to browse & compare similar books or in some cases even finds suggested recommendations.

The main disadvantage that may be involved with an online library system is:

Inaccurate Information:

For a very large library an online library system will be complicated to update. Sometimes records are inaccurate and can cause confusion for users. Books that are stolen or lost from the library may still show as online on the system. Users who have reserved a book online can become frustrated to travel there and find out it is not in stock.

Whereas there are many other advantages & disadvantages that could be associated to an online library system, these are a few of the most important. As a general statement, online library systems are very beneficial and useful.

Future Trends in Integrated Library Systems:

The definition of an integrated system is starting to change from a system that shares bibliographic records amongst modules and local functions to a system which exchanges information along with many other systems outside of the library. Technological developments, like client/server architectures & standardized protocols for passing out information from one system to another system, are facilitating this integration of outside information sources into local systems. For instance, an online ordering system might let a librarian to search a publisher's bibliographic database, choose records of books to be purchased, & download those records through the publisher's database into the library catalog. Also, some of the libraries with expanded integrated systems offer patron’s access, through their local OPACs, to other non-bibliographic  and bibliographic databases both inside & outside the library and to OPACs of other libraries.

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