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Benefits of Library Automation


Discss about the case of a Library Automation Project using Open Source Software Called Koha.

This report covers the case of a library automation project using open source software called Koha. The system involves management of acquisition control, circulation, cataloguing, serials control, and classification. Development of a web based system is proposed with all these modules. The proposal includes planning, design, and implementation. This paper explores the need for automation in library, its benefits for library management systems, challenges to adoption, and the requirements for development of such a system. Based on these understanding, a system of library management is proposed in the study taking the case of one of the library systems. The project proposed includes planning, designing, and development of this library system.

Automation is process which makes use of systems that can save human time and energy allowing them to enhance their contribution. In 1880, Hollerith invented punching cards that were used for tabulating the census in USA. University of Texas was the fist educational institutor that used punch cards for controlling circulation of their books. By 1950, Library congress began to use them for production of catalogues and soon after that many libraries in the country started to adapt to these. This was seen as a process of automation as simplified the work of people working in that librarian.

The next wave of automation came in the library systems with introduction of computer base systems in 1960s and some new ventures like MEDLARS and MARC came into space. In early 1990s, readable catalogues were formed for library automation and the systems were majorly used for management of housekeeping operations in library management.

Past decade saw major transformation in library automation systems from management of general resources to providing access to particular resources and with addition of global networking through the use of internet technologies, newer technology solutions were incorporated into library systems. Today, integrated library systems exist that did not only help automate the traditional library functions but also connected library systems with multiple databases, suppliers and internet resources to provide a wide range of resources for access (Faisal & B.Surendran, 2008).

With automation systems, libraries are made more independent and borderless as a huge number of resources can be integrated to add to the information. Key objectives of automation of library are improvement of accommodations of information, reduction of cost by elimination of duplication, improvement of access through resource sharing, and improvement in control through the use of an efficient storage and retrieval system.

Some common functions of library system are now managed with automation systems such as acquisition, description, analysis, displaying, organizing, preservation of resources, and access to resources. This resulted into emergence of many library formats such as subject portals, open access repositories, and digital libraries.

Automation in library is nothing but establishing a connection between libraries, information centers, databases, peer groups, search engines, and peer groups. The systems need to be interpretable in different settings. To establish this interconnectivity, various set of hardware and software systems may be used enabling use of multiple resources and exchange of data between different systems.

Challenges of Library Automation

Library systems operate following certain global standards like metadata standards, communication standards, content standards, interpretability standards, and information exchange standards. MARC-21 is one such metadata standard that is used for presentation of authority data, bibliographical data, and holdings data. Use of these standards offer certain advantages for library systems such as efficient cataloguing, accuracy of catalogues, consistency with use of authority files, exchange between different libraries using commonly understandable format, etc.

However, library automation systems development and adoption have to face certain barriers like lack of direction, technical training of staff, communication, staff inputs, and feedback mechanisms. Some library systems are already established and there are plans for their migration to second generation library management systems. Migrations are simpler than new implementations as people would already have an understanding of basic systems and they are easier to understand and adopt. However, some librarians say that even migrations require change of procedures which can cause technostress on staff (Bales, 1999).

There are some basic requirement of any library system that include adequate collection, financial assistance, hardware, software, staff training, maintenance, and development.  The library software need to have some provisions for library management system such as knowledge expulsions, information in electronic formats, resource sharing, internet applications, and so on. Housekeeping activities that are majorly automated in library systems include acquisition of materials, circulation of indexed materials, cataloguing of materials for lending to patrons, serial control for magazines and newspapers, OPAC public user interface, and administration (Deshpande, 2013).

A library system can either have a functional structure or a divisional structure. A divisional structure involves a number of processing department’s with each having a discrete function. This type of structure is more popular in old libraries that have identified departments for managing books, manuscripts, and maps. Within this divisional structure, there could be several different patterns such as division based on subjects; division based on the country of the origin of the booked catalogued, and so on. A functional structure on the other hand involves structural units formation based on books succession in the system. In this structure, staff members can develop high expertise in specific area of processing. Moreover, with this structure some economy would be achieved as one person would be doing only one process but for a large number of resources (COTTA-SCHÖNBERG, 1989).

A case of library automation of Bharathidasan University can be taken as a foundation in which Koha Library Integrated Open Source software was used for implementing an automated solution for managing the resources of the school. The developed system was able to manage the book circulation, had the ability to identify and generate a list of overdue books, impose penalties for delays, and so on. This model can be taken as a learning base for development of any kind of automated library system. The system involved acquisition control, circulation, cataloguing, serials control, and classification. An Integrated Library System (ILS) library system which more like an Enterprise Resource planning system for the library was developed.

The system developed utilized Koha open source software and MySQL database. Two disk raid1 systems were used as hardware for maintaining redundancy in case of failure. The file system also used partitioning which also added to the redundancy.

Library Automation Proposal

A website was designed in which there was a home page created containing links to all sections including circulation, patron’s information, catalogue search, administrative tools, and about Koha. Koha system of library automation had a range of modules that took care of different functionalities of the system (Ratha, 2015).

Administrative Module: An administrative module was developed in the intranet module of Koha that could be used for defining different types of functional parameters including branches, book funds, item types, borrower categories, currencies, charges, and so on.

System Preferences Module: System preferences module took care of the administration and maintenance of the library and was only accessible to the Chief administrator.

Acquisition Module: Koha had two modes of acquisition. One, simple that did not keep track of budget and normal which kept track of budget. Simple budget was useful for small libraries where the acquisition budget was limited. This module also allowed for search of suppliers who could deliver required books to the library.

Budget and Funds Module: Through this module, funds were allotted to different categories of library items and the system stored information like book fund number, fund name, period, and total budget.

Biblio Framework Module: It maintained bibliographic records of documents in the library. Book details could be entered to create a new entry and number tags could be attached for each entry for easy search.

Patrons module: In this module, particulars of the library members could be entered into the system including joining date, expiry date, borrower type, and other membership information. Administrator could edit the borrower type, search for members, and add new members.

Circulation Module: This module was used for assigning new students or allowing them to renew their subscriptions. The module required entering of borrower card number or names to see the membership information and if the member wanted to issue a book, he could enter the scan or enter the bar code and select date of issue to issue a book. The same module was also used for returning the borrowed books.

Accounts and reports module: This module had the details of payments, overdue, written of amounts, fines imposed, fines paid, fines due, etc.

Koha Tools Module: This module allowed import and export of functions like bibliography and patron information. Various functions in the tool could be used to label patron, create card, upload patron image, issue overdue notices, etc (Amekuedee, 2006).

OPAC Module: This tool was connected with the MySQL database and allowed filtered searches by entering keywords, book title, subject, author, or barcode of the book.

Upon implementation of the library management system, the university had a single database for all the Chemistry library collections and the management had full control over it. Faculty members and students when using library management system to search books, issue them, check borrowed books status, get book details, download bibliography, and go to other department libraries.

While implementing the library management system in the university, there were some challenges faced because of lack of infrastructure facility, environmental support, and financial resources (Neelakandan.B, et al., 2010).

Key Objectives of Library Automation

Automation of library is a process in which computer systems are used to satisfy the needs of a library. Computer systems can help provide fast and easy access to library resources, save time, increase the speed of library administrative operations, and the use of resources. Teachers, students and the learning community can be served better with the use of Library Management systems. Moreover library automation systems also allow scope for customization of services (Ubogu & Okiy, 2011).

The project would involve planning, designing and implementation of an automated library management system for the university.

Planning: This would involve formation of a model for modernization of the library. It would involve listing of all the items with identification of prioritized information systems. These identified items or procedures would then be subdivided into functional elements. The main items would include acquisitions, cataloguing, circulation, serials control, reference services, bibliographic database, and user services (R.VENUS, 2012).

Designing: This would involve designing of the structure of the library management system including position and connections between management modules, database server, networking, and user machines.

Implementation: For managing each of these modules, the library would require automation software which can either be commercial like SOUL, LIBSYS, AUTOLIB, and EASYLIBSOFT or open source such as KOHA, WINISIS, EVERGREEN, OPEN BIBLIO, and DSpace (Breeding, 2008).

Libraries are growing in numbers and a large number of books and reference materials are being stocked by colleges and universities that are used by students, teachers, and research communities. There is a need to organize these collections, retrieve information about them and provide the same to a person interested in borrowing books from library. Various information needs have risen in library management including (Zach, 2006):

  • Maintaining of bibliographic records
  • Building of catalogue for user access
  • Reduction of duplication of operations
  • Preparing different types of reports
  • Maintaining of circulation of books
  • Maintaining different types of materials
  • To allow sharing of resources
  • To improve the quality and speed of operations
  • To enhance the operational efficiencies of the system(Devi & Raghuveer, 2014)

All these requirements of the modern libraries can be fulfilled with the use of computer systems by developing library management systems.

There can be various types of challenges that can occur while planning to develop a library management system. One of the challenging task in library automation is transmission of the bibliographic records which can be simplified by the use of syndication. Developmental, functional, and operational challenges can occur if the ICT infrastructure is not sufficient, funding is not adequate or staffs is not skilled on the use of ICT systems (Dadzie & Walt, 2015).

A number of open source applications are available with two key modules provided in them including staff-client module and online public access catalogue module. OPAC allows users to carry out advanced searches and retrieve bibliographical records.

Use of open source software can thus help to a great extent as it would at least minimize the requirement for funds that can be alternatively used for acquiring infrastructure or training staff (Ahenkorah-Marfo & Borteye, 2010).

The objectives of most library automation applications are allowing users to register, access library materials, borrow, locate, return them, and allow administration to calculate overdue. Library automation not just allows keeping records of books but can also be used for handling of books through the use of robotic systems (Khurshid, 2003).

The project would involve planning, design, and implementation of a library management system which would be developed using open source software applications. The first step would be to explore the requirements of the library and then various open source software options would be explored so that a final selection can be made for implementation. A structure of the library automation system would be made using which the implementation process would be carried out. Various module requirements and feature requirements would then be studied and individual modules inside the open source software would then be utilized for creation of desired module for library management system. This would be connected to a back end database of the library which would be developed over OPAC. With modules identified, different user interfaces for students, administrators, staff and teachers would be developed with different access rights for different groups of users (Kinner & Rigda, 2009).


This report was a proposal made for the development of an automated library management system. It was found that a lot of universities and colleges have a large number of stock of books maintained that are used by students, faculties, and research communities and require an organized way to manage them. Library management systems can be used to allow basic functions as well as simplify processes in many other ways and provide additional services to the users. There are various open source applications available for developing such a system that can be used for developing library management systems at low cost. Some common functions that every library would need to be developed using these implementations include acquisition, control, circulation, cataloguing, serials control, and classification. It was found that universities can receive a variety of benefits and can provide more flexible and customized services to its library users through the use of automated systems.


Ahenkorah-Marfo, M., & Borteye, E. M. (2010). Networking the Library Catalogue: Lessons from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Library, Kumasi, Ghana. Ghana Library Journal , 20 (1), 1-21.

Amekuedee, J. (2006). An evaluation of library automation in some Ghanaian university libraries. The Electronic Library , 23 (4), 442-451.

Bales, A. (1999). Library Automation and Organizational Change. Catherine Collins.

Breeding, M. (2008). Open Source Library Automation: Overview and Perspective. ALA Techsource.

COTTA-SCHÖNBERG, M. V. (1989). Automation and Academic Library Structure. Libri.

Dadzie, P. S., & Walt, T. v. (2015). Planning for Digitization of University Libraries in Ghana: Challenges and Prospects. University of Nebraska - Lincoln.

Deshpande, J. (2013). Library Automation in the Academic Institutions . International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR) , 1500-1501.

Devi, G. R., & Raghuveer, K. (2014). Hardware and Software Selection for Library Automation. International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR) , 3 (12), 1872-1876.

Faisal, S. L., & B.Surendran. (2008). Report on Automation of Library at Kendriya Vidyalaya Pattom Thiruvananthapuram. Kendriya Vidyalaya Pattom.

Khurshid, Z. (2003). A  survey of the  Arabian Gulf library automation marketplace. Electronic Library & Information Systems , 37 (4), 226-­233.

Kinner, L., & Rigda, C. (2009). The integrated library system: from daring to dinosaur. Journal of Library Adminstration , 49 (4), 406.

Neelakandan.B,  Duraisekar. S,  Balasubramani.R, &  Srinivasa Ragavan.S . (2010). Implementation of Automated Library Management System in the School of Chemistry Bharathidasan University using Koha Open Source Software. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF APPLIED ENGINEERING RESEARCH , 1 (1), 149-167.


Ratha, B. (2015). Library Automation: Planning and Implementation. Indore: Devi Ahilya University.

Ubogu, J. O., & Okiy, R. (2011, August 27). Sources of funds in academic libraries in Delta State, Nigeria. Library Philosophy and Practice , pp. 1-12.

Zach, L. (2006). Using a multiple-case studies design to investigate the information-seeking behavior of Arts Administrators. Library Trends , 4-21.

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