LIBRARY AUTOMATON: DEFINITION TO IMPLEMENTATION Kamal Kumar Chaurasia( INTRODUCTION The term Library automation connotes the use of automatic data processing machines to perform routine library activities. It implies a high degree of mechanization of various routine and repetitive tasks & operations and processes are left to be performed by human beings. Simply Library Automation is the application of computers and utilization of computer based products and services in the performance of different operations and functions or in the provision of various services and output products.
In addition to computer advancement, telecommunication and audio-visual technologies gave a way to new possibilities in information processing and handling. DEFINITIONS Library Automation has been defined as ‘integrated systems’ that computerizes an array of traditional library functions using a common database (Cohn, Kelsey and Fiels) and while this is still generally true, rapid technological change is forcing a re-examination of what it means to “automate the library”. In the broadest sense, Markuson means “employment of machines for library processes”.
ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science defines automation as “the performance of an operation, a series of operations or a process by self activating, self controlling, or automatic means. Automation implies the use of automatic data processing equipment such as a computer or other labour saving devices”. ADVANTAGES OF LIBRARY AUTOMATION The versatility and speed of computers offers numerous benefits over manual library functions and operations. Computer applications in libraries has manifold advantages: ? Reduces Drudgery Multiple Outputs ? Increases Productivity Improves Quality of Services ? Expands the scope and coverage ? It will foster new products and services ? Instant Answers to queries NEED & OBJECTIVES OF LIBRARY AUTOMATION While justifying need for library automation more than the cost-effectiveness, the benefits derived by the library users become the major consideration. Since library does not happen to be an economic entity such benefits need to be looked at in a different perspective. The multifold increase in information output and usage has posed a problem for librarians to handle information in an effective manner.
The advances in technology, lowering of cost and changes in users expectations have brought changing in the attitude of librarians to cope with the other related challenges. The need of automation in libraries can be explained on the basis of following factors: ? To expand the horizons of its coverage having possibility to develop it further into online form ? To promote the resource sharing among the libraries ? To cope with increasing demands for services in terms of frequency and speed ? To reduce staff or avoid the further increase in staff ?
To increase the efficiency of supporting and paraprofessional staff ? To provide the access to the documents (electronic access) ? To increase the storage capacity of information using small and compact media ? To improve the quality of access to existing services (remote login, etc. ) ? To provide new (increasingly digital) information services ? Document delivery very fast, frequent and online ? To be remain economical as providing the more services to more users having same staff PLANNING & IMPLEMENTATION
The level of formal procedure in planning and implementing an automation project varies widely according to library preference and the nature of the application. The human element is a very important aspect in implementing an automated system. A library should interact with the following people in implementing an automated system or service- library staff, administrative and government authorities, regulatory agencies and purchasing departments, computer center personnel, vendors, consultants and attorneys, other libraries, and library users. The following steps should keep in mind while, planning and implementing the automation in a library:
This includes the study of the systems available in market and other libraries. As some libraries prefer to use standard library automation software while some other prefers to develop their own customized software. The main types of systems are: ? TRANSFERRED SYSTEM: It involves the transferring of already installed software developed at one library to the target library. These are already checked and always cost effective. ? TURNKEY SYSTEM: These are off the rack software available for sale. Commercial vendors on the library premise installs it and they starts operation just the target library turns the key.
The vendor provides hardware and complete software package and responsible for any problem encountered during the operation. ? INHOUSE SYSTEM: These integrated in-house Softwares are generally tailored within the parent organization to meet the specific requirements of the library. <> The first and foremost step in library automation is the idea to initiate a project. The planning for library automation will include the following six major steps: ? FEASIBILITY STUDY Before any automation system is installed in a library, a formal study should be undertaken to ascertain the feasibility of the new system.
The purpose of this study is to state, analyze and document the data needed to make an informed and intelligent decision regarding the feasibility i. e. technical feasibility, operational feasibility and economic feasibility. The Technical feasibility will include whether or not the proposed project is technically feasible. The operational feasibility includes whether the proposed system will be able to perform designated within the organizational environment with its current personnel and existing procedures. The economic feasibility calls for greater attention with the shrinking budget and rising cost of informational material in library. HIRING A CONSULTANT The consultant will support to library’s planning for automation that would include the development of its infrastructure for communicating with all participants in the planning process, defining the problem you hope to address through automation, needs assessments, determination of staffing needs and financial resources, project budget preparation, assistance with technical aspects of planning that go beyond the library staff’s experience or expertise, vendor and system performance evaluation and contract and purchase negotiation.
NEED ASSESMENT THROUGH DATA COLLECTION The study, analysis and documenting the current system including review of policy and procedure manuals, training manuals, staff survey, user statistics, work flow diagrams etc will fall under its purview. This data will be used for a variety of purposes throughout the planning process including, preliminary cost estimation, providing the information for an RFP (Request for Proposal) and calculating the storage requirements for the new system. EXAMINE THE AUTOMATION OPTIONS
It will include to determine which library functions should be automated and in what order of priority. For getting optimum results it will be necessary to set priorities for the services to be automate in phases. ? SYSTEM SPECIFICATION AND REQUIREMENTS It will include the following details: • Description of the Library System including statistical description of users, their use of services, community growth, projected five-year growth of demands for library services • Technical and Functional specifications for a system ? CONTRACT NEGOTIATION
This will include negotiation with vendor regarding the contract as to interpret and clarify the differences between vendor’s response and the library specifications, and ensure to formalize pricing and payment schedules, deal with non-performance issues and remedies as well as warranty, vendor liquidation, software infringement, and maintenance expectations’ and ensure safeguards conformance to any legal requirements necessitated by the library’s parent organization or governing body. Retrospective conversion is the process of converting existing manual catalogues of a library into a machine-readable format adopting specified standards.
It is a major component of the library automation process and most challenging task too faced by the library professionals. Subject cataloguing standards, classification schemes, record formats etc should always follow in retrospective conversion. Without the completion of retro conversion, the automation in a library can’t be achieved. Its importance can be described in following points: • Creating a local database for library automation purpose • Creating Union Lists/ Union Catalogue • Promoting Resource Sharing • Facilitating the Mutual Cataloguing • Improving the performance of internal operations Eliminating the cost for the simultaneous functioning of parallel systems • Protecting the library data • Developing the specialized products and information repacking • To contribute in Universal Bibliographic Control <> Moving from the non-automated system into the computerized system will require both planning and long work hours from administration and staff. Yet community volunteers might be recruited to assist the process in moving quickly and efficiently, particularly in relation to data conversion. However, patron registration, installing software, staff training and system testing are probably best left to internal sources.
Depending upon the resources and personnel availability, one mode of the following four systems conversion modes, may be adopted: • Direct Conversion: old system is completely replaced by new one • Parallel Conversion: old system is operated along with the new system • Phased Conversion: it is used when new system installation by the organization all at once is not possible. • Pilot Conversion: when a new system involves new techniques of drastic changes in existing routine of the library. Finally the users and staff must be acquainted with the new system so that the system will indeed work in the expected way.
Training and Demonstration classes should also be arranged for the staff’s training and practice. <> The evaluation will give a insight about what a automated system has, then make judgments about aspects of the automated system that are important to the library. During the time of information gathering and other routine operations, a checklist of features may be helpful in marinating a consistent focus and accumulating knowledge about the products in a manner that will result in valid comparisons. The following checkpoints may be used while evaluating the automation system: • Make a list of general eatures that the automated system ought to be • Prioritize your list of features • Review an existing list of available systems of the major vendors • Start eliminating systems based on your list of general features • Choose three or four systems for the final choice • Prepare a justification for your decisions based on the information BARRIERS OF LIBRARY AUTOMATION The following are the main barriers to library automation: ? Fear of adverse impact on employment ? Apprehension that the technology could be too expensive ? The library staff has to undergo extensive training Lack of support from the management, may be owing to budget constraints ? Fifth reason could be retrospective conversion of data Here I have tried to give some idea for beginners in library automation. Even though wide ranges of technologies/products such as digital library Softwares (Greenstone, Dspace etc) are easily available, it is necessary for librarians to keep a watch on the developments and to choose appropriate technology depending on the needs. Also, it is very important for librarians to interact with computer professionals as the library automation at all levels needs good co-ordination between both these professionals.
Reference: 1. MLI-002: Library Automation. In Indira Gandhi National Open University Course material for PGDLAN. P: 5-87 2. Satyanarayana, N. R. A Manual of Library Automation and Networking. – Royal Book Co. : Lucknow, 2003 P: 79 3. Sharma, Pandey, S. K. Library Automation Systems. In Encycopaedia of Library Automation Systems and Networks. Vol. 4. Organization of Library Automation. New Delhi; Anmol, 1999 ( JlA, PARLIAMENT LIBRARY, NEW DELHI. Email: [email protected] co. in