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Library Automation & Networking

Automation had been a trend a few years back but now it is becoming necessity. Now the librarians are fully aware of the concept of automation. The library users are very much interested in a library where all the processes are automated. The administration also wants the libraries to benefit from the ICT technology. To sum it up all there is an ideal environment for those libraries who lagged behind in this aspect due to one reason or the other and are still offering their services manually to start with the automation.

But there are many doubts and misconceptions about the automation among professionals. So I am taking up some of the questions one by one.

What is Automation?

Automation is the process of automating the day-to-day routine jobs performed in the management of a library by its staff manually. It is the use of computers and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) and it helps a lot in repetitive jobs which in a library many. On the one hand computers have brought in efficiency in the management of libraries on the other hand ICT helps in the communication of information/knowledge faster than ever.

Automation Vs Digitization

Professionals usually confuse between the terms Automation and Digitization. These are two different concepts. While automation is a broader term and it involves only the use of and computers and ICT to do the jobs that were being done manually. This involves a software to manage the collection and its circulation to members/patrons and also the routine office work. Digitization on the other hand is digitization (converting into electronic format) of all the resources of a library. Ideally a digital library should be a collection of resources/documents in electronic format on computer servers only and without any hard copies. But this is not a easy job. The copyright is the biggest issue. You can't convert all of your collection into digital format without the permission from all the publishers. So, digital library is more of a theoretical concept rather than a practical reality.


The development of softwares for management of libraries and digital collections started in 1970's and 80's and now we have many choices, both free/open source and commercial. There are many types also. Some specialize in managing digital libraries and others have been developed for managing library collections and routine operations. There are many that can do both.

  1. Free and Open Source

    The terms free and open source are very much common these days and are sometimes used as synonymous. But they are not. A software that is distributed free of charge by its developer(s) is termed Free. Usually it is available over the internet and can be downloaded and used by anybody. An open source software is one for which the developer has provided the source code along with the software so that if the user wishes and is capable of can develop it according to his/her own needs. It may be free or may not be free, i.e. the original developer may charge for it and or may provide the source code along with the software free of charge. Both Free and Open Source softwares are governed by some license terms of use, most common being GNU and GPL. These license terms define the kind of use that can be made of the software and its further distribution etc. Most of the free and open source softwares are developed by communities of developers who work voluntarily for no charges.

    A free software doesn't mean that it will necessarily be open source and a open source software doesn't mean that it will always be free. All depends on the organization/company or people involved in its development, how they choose to distribute it.

  2. Commercial

    The commercial softwares are developed by companies/organization who sell it at a price. Usually they only sell license to use the software along with the software and no source code for in house development is involved. Also some license renewal fee has to be paid periodically to continue using the software. In most of the cases the vendor also provides technical support for the software.


    Integrated Library Management Systems are the softwares that can manage almost all the operations of the libraries. These softwares are module based i.e. acquisition, cataloguing, circulation, serial control and reporting etc. They can even manage Digital Documents. All modern softwares tend to be ILSs. The examples are,


  • Commercial: Voyager from Exlibris and Virtua from VTLS etc.
  • Free Open Source: KOHA and Evergreen etc.

Digital Repositories:

Digital Repositories are the digital libraries with all the collections in digital format. These use special software application for the purpose. They generally support different digital formats.

Title - Library Automation | Author - PunLib | Article ID - 00000000012 | Last Updated - 2011-11-24 04:36:04 | Keywords - Library Automation,



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