Friday, February 14, 2014

Application of Information Technology in Public Libraries P- 13. Public Libraries * By :C P Vashishth

इस ब्लॉग्स को सृजन करने में आप सभी से सादर सुझाव आमंत्रित हैं , कृपया अपने सुझाव और प्रविष्टियाँ प्रेषित करे , इसका संपूर्ण कार्य क्षेत्र विश्व ज्ञान समुदाय हैं , जो सभी प्रतियोगियों के कॅरिअर निर्माण महत्त्वपूर्ण योगदान देगा ,आप अपने सुझाव इस मेल पत्ते पर भेज सकते हैं -

Application of Information Technology in Public Libraries

P- 13. Public Libraries *

By :C P Vashishth

1. Introduction

Technology is the study of tools and techniques to execute the scientifically prepared plans and/or designs. In other words, technology is the practical application of science to make the human life better.
            Information Technology is the study of tools and techniques used in processing of information. Macmillan Dictionaryof Information Technology defines IT as “the acquisition, processing, storage, and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual, and numerical information by a micro-electronics-based combination of computing and telecommunication”
UNESCO defines Information Technology as “scientific, technological and engineering disciplines and the management techniques used in information handling and processing information, their applications; computers and their interaction with man and machine and associated social, economic and cultural matters”.
            Public Libraries worldwide have been using information technology for automating various library functions and activities. This could be library house-keeping operations, planning, maintenance or other administrative purposes. Use of information technology in libraries is aimed at the quick and better services to the library patrons.

2. Advances in Information Technology

The pace of development in the field of information technology is tremendous. Speed of computer  processors is becoming faster and faster; storage capacity is ever increasing; new and new hardware devices are commercially available; sophisticated application and system software are being developed. On the other hand the telecommunication technology has immaterialised the geographical distances. One can communicate over a distance in real time and at a very low cost.
            These changes in ICT have changed the face of libraries.There is a visible improvement in services of libraries. Libraries are now in a position to provide personalised services to their patrons. In coming days, library users are likely to register in record numbers for information over networked libraries.

3. Reasons for Using Information Technology

There are numerous reasons for using information technology in public libraries. Some of them are as under:
  • To get higher efficiency in library routine functions
  • To improve speed of library operations and saving of time
  • To reduce the chances of errors in transactions thus overall improvement in quality of service
  • To develop an effective resource sharing network
  • To enable the library authority to think of new services which were not there in absence of library automation
  • To enable the authority to generate various statistical and management reports

4. Application of ICT in Various House Keeping Operations

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4.1. Acquisition

Acquisitions play a vital role in accomplishment of the mission of a library. Many pioneers such as Evans and Gorman have talked about library acquisitions. However, James E Rush has given a more comprehensive definition of acquisition. Rush elaborates that “Acquisitions encompasses all aspects of procurement of all types of library materials whether by gift or exchange, from the request stage through transfer of materials to cataloguing”.
You must have studied that the manual  library acquisition involves a lot of paper work handling reconciliation of orders, invoices, budget control and fiscal analysis, follow up (and subsequent follow-ups) claims and cancellation, etc. Automated library acquisition system helps doing all those work more accurate, timely and with complete records of orders. This reduces labour and paper intensive work involved in manual system. Further, automation supports for acquisition eliminates much of the ‘forms’ preparation and paper handling required in manual system; thus reducing the personnel time and efforts required to do this work. A most important benefit is the powerful, cost-effective monitoring capability it affords to library management.  
4.1.1.   Types of Files Needed
Libraries differ in nature, size, collection, services, budget and objectives, etc. Hence, the files required and functions involved in automated library acquisition would vary from library to library. However, some of the files would commonly be required are as below:
  • Document data  (Normally the Catalogue of a Library)
  • Vendors data
  • In-acquisition or in-process data
  • Financial data
  • Invoice/ Bill data
  • Library policy and decision file
  • Other files (For example, Currency Conversion data, Patrons data, etc.)
4.1.2.   Acquisition Process
Basically there are four processes/ operations involved in automated library acquisitions viz. Select, Order, Receive and Accession. Normally, following process of acquisition is followed:            Request
  • Receive indents/ suggestions/ requests for the documents to be acquired            Pre-Order
  • Check if the requested items are already there in the library or in the process of acquisition
  • Obtain approval from the authority
  • Select vendor, type of grant etc.            Order
  • Place order (Printed or electronically generated)            Post-Order
  • Follow-up claims for overdue orders – Part or full
  • Receive and record items against delivery challan
  • Physical verification of received items
  • Process invoice for payments
  • Accession
  • Generate reports pertaining to acquisition
  • Send items for further processing – cataloguing
            Please note that a good automated acquisition system takes care of the following:
  • Supports various types of orders such as – Regular order, On-approval, Gifts or Exchange, etc.;
  • Supports and handles ordering of multiple copies and multi volume documents;
  • Capable of transforming the input data into actual order to be sent;
  • Handles the partial receipt of an order;
  • Accommodates variety of materials in variety of formats;
  • Generates claims/ reminder notices for un-received items as a follow-up action;
  • Supports the cancellation of order (due to non-supply of orders or otherwise); and
Provides wide range of access points to search one or more data files in relation to acquisition

4.2. Cataloguing

We all know that computerised cataloguing is one of the most used retrieval tool all over the world. It is also used to exchange, distribute and use the bibliographic data across the geographical boundaries.
Computer based cataloguing became possible with the creation of Computer Output Microform (COM) catalogues in 1960s. However, use of computers in cataloguing started in November 1965 with the MARC Pilot project by the Library of Congress.  But, “the online public access catalogue is the first major development that brings the benefits of automation directly to the user as a means of expanded access to library collections and as a means of organising and presenting bibliographic information for effective self-services” states Charles R Hildreth.
4.2.1.   Issues Involved in Computer Based Cataloguing (OPAC)
            Taylor while discussing the Development of Online Public Access Catalogue, has dealt with some of the key issues as given hereunder:                        Designing
  • OPACs should be designed in such a way they reflect an understanding of user searching behaviour.
  • Must enable coverage of all types of documents to be added, validated, edited and deleted online from the workstations
  • Capable of records to be imported or exported
  • Must support multilingual features .           Searching
                                    Should support simple and advanced search
Browsing - takes into account the information seeking behaviour of the users;
Should support Boolean operators (OR, AND, NOT), logical operators (=, <, >) and positional operators (SAME – term must be in the same field, WITH – terms must be in the same sentence with in a field, NEAR – term must be adjacent to one another in either order, ADJ – term must be immediately adjacent to one another)
Should allow users to enter multiple words to be searched on one or more than one fields                        Retrieval
Retrieval models in today’s OPACs are based on the exact-match. However, Taylor writes that “Probabilistic systems return results that match query to some degree and are displayed in the order of decreasing similarity”.                        Standards
            As Martha Yee states, “The lack of standardization across OPACs can make it difficult for catalogue users to apply their knowledge of one OPAC to searching another OPAC in a different library”. Hence it becomes necessary that an OPAC
  • Should compliance with standard bibliographic and authority record formats such as MARC, CCF, UNIMARC
  • Should support standard classification schemes and vocabulary control devices such as thesauri and list of subject headings etc.
  • Should be Z39.50 compliant and be enable to capture bibliographic and authority records from any Z39.50 server through Z39.50 client
  • Must enable incorporating changes in the MARC authority format or other national/ international standard formats .           Display
            In an OPAC display deals with
  • Retrieved Results
  • Individual Records
    • Should provide appropriate amount of information
    • Generally there are three layer displays in an OPAC
      • One or two lines;
      • Brief display; and
      • Full Display
4.2.2.   The Future OPACs
  • To accept natural language query expressions where users would search with their own words;
  • Have the automatic term conversion/ matching aids such as spelling correction, intelligent streaming and synonym tables;
  • Have the nearest best-match retrieval as opposed to today’s system which requires an exact match for an item to be retrieved as possible relevant;
  • To provide ranked retrieval output and relevance feedback method;
  • To facilitate hypertext, related-record searching and browsing; and
  • To provide integration of keywords, controlled vocabulary, and classification based search approaches.

4.3. Circulation Control

An automated circulation subsystem of an LMS would require to maintain:
4.3.1.   Patron (Member) data
  • New Registration or Renewal of membership to create a unique ID
  • Entry of personal details
  • Entry of patron’s eligibility and other parameters like number of documents to be issued, period of loan and category of membership, expiry date of membership, etc.
  • Generation of patron ID card with a barcode embedded.
  • Edit or modification in any of the above
  • Deletion or cancellation of membership
  • Issue of ‘No-dues’ or ‘clearance’ certificate
4.3.2.   Documents
  • Maintenance of document database is automatically done through Acquisition and Catalogue modules of LMS
4.3.3.   General Administration
  • Update Calendar - so that the holidays are taken into account while determining the ‘due date’ and calculation of overdue charges.
  • Inter Library Loan
  • Fiscal Management
  • Generation of reports related to circulation
4.3.4.   Transaction Management
  • Check-in/ Check-out
  • Renewal
  • Reservation
  • Recall
  • Reminder
  • Report generation
4.3.5.   Bar-coding
A barcode (Figure 1) is an optical machine-readable representation of data relating to the object to which it is attached. Originally barcodes represented data by bars i.e. parallel vertical lines and space i.e. no bars, and may be referred to as linear or one-dimensional (1D). Later they evolved into rectangles, dots, hexagons and other geometric patterns in two dimensions (2D). Although 2D systems use a variety of symbols, they are generally referred to as barcodes as well.
 Alternate Text
Figure 1: Linear or One Dimensional Barcode (Source: Google Images)

Barcode technology is widely used in circulation activities in a library. The required details of the document and of the patron needed for issue and return is captured from barcodes. The capturing device is known as barcode reader, barcode scanner or barcode ‘gun’. (Figure 2)
 Alternate Text
Figure 2: Barcode Scanner- also known as ‘Gun’ (Source: Google Images)

Benefits of using Barcodes: Saves Time; Reduced Cost; Reduced Errors; Improved Operational Efficiency.

 Alternate Text

Figure 3: Components of an RFID System (Source: Google Images)

4.4. Serial Control

Effective control over serial publications has always been a challenging library operation. However, with the help of a good LMS, library can have an efficient control over acquisition, maintenance and circulation of serial publications. Functions covered under automated serial control can be categorised as under 
4.4.1.   For subscription
  • Starting new subscription
  • Renew existing subscription
  • Stop subscription
  • Cancellation of subscription
  • Budget control
  • Development and maintenance of files on – Publishers, Vendors, Languages, Countries, Currencies, Subjects, Frequencies, Mode of delivery, etc.
  • Invoice processing
4.4.2.   Receipt of issues
  • Check-in (Computer data entry of received regular or special issues of journals including supplements and indexes, etc.)
  • Claiming – Generating and sending reminders/ claims for un-received or missing issues of journals
  • Handling the situations when two journals are clubbed, a journal is split, change of name of the journal or publication, or ceased publication
4.4.3.   Post receipt
  • Routing (involves circulation of individual issues)
  • Binding control
  • Accessioning of bound volumes
  • Management reports- based on Titles, Checked-in, claims, etc.
  • On-line user access (OPAC and/or Web OPAC)
  • Circulation of bound volumes
  • Article indexing- to produce subject bibliographies and to offer services like CAS, SDI
4.5.      Information Search and Retrieval
            Information search and retrieval encompasses through – creation of databases (i.e. Storage of data), indexing (i.e. creation of ‘key terms’) and Retrieval (i.e. accepting users’ query, matching it with the database and giving the output to the user)
            Information retrieval systems acts as an intermediate between consumer and creator of information
5.         Summary
            It has become inevitable, because of the advantages of IT, to use information technology in various house-keeping operations of a public library. House-keeping operations include acquisition, cataloguing, circulation and serial control. There are many LMS commercially available to automate the procedures and files. If automated, the library personnel and patrons are greatly benefitted. 


Z39.50             An ISO standard protocol for cross-system search and retrieval.
Indexing          The process of evaluating information entities and creating indexing terms, normally subject or topical terms, that aid in finding and accessing the entity. Index terms may be in natural language or controlled vocabulary or a classification notation.


  1. Stokes, A V. Concise Encyclopaedia of Information Technology. 2nd ed. London: Gower, 1985. p. 114-115.
  2. Indira Gandhi National Open University. Information Technology Basics: Library Automation 3, New Delhi: IGNOU, 2010. p. 6.
  3. Taylor, Arlene G. The Organization of Information. 2ndEd. London: Libraries Unlimited, 2005. p. 109.
  4. Taylor, Arlene G. The Organization of Information. 2nd Ed. London: Libraries Unlimited, 2005. p. 114.
  5. Taylor, Arlene G. The Organization of Information. 2nd Ed. London: Libraries Unlimited, 2005. p. 115.

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