Library Management Systems

Library Management Systems have been around for quite some time in schools but it’s only in the last year with the rise in mobile technologies and cloud-based intelligence, that they are becoming a very interesting concept in Irish schools. In this article, I’ll be exploring some of the options that I know about in Ireland and the features that I think a good Library Management System should have.

photo credit: Pesky Library via photopin cc

Firstly, what is a Library Management System? Thankfully, its name does the explaining for you! A Library Management System essentially allows school to manage their school library electronically. This can include all books and other multimedia. Some schools even do their book rental schemes with them. A Library Management System is either a piece of software that is downloaded to a computer or it can be a web-based (cloud) application that can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection. Pupils and teachers should be able to log in with a username and password or with a scan of a library card and borrow and return books to a school library. Library Management Systems can track lots of data, which can be useful for schools. Some allow pupils to write reviews or rate books, which is useful.

There are quite a large number of Library Management Systems available from companies in Ireland and they all have various advantages and disadvantages. Some are very comprehensive and others keep it simple. I’m of the opinion that personal taste comes into Library Management Systems as effectively they all do the same basic thing: let people borrow and return books and other resources. The following are Library Management Systems that I know of in Ireland:

There are plenty of other options apart from the above that are from international companies, some Open Source, e.g. Oliver, Koha and Scooter but I’ll stick with the Irish ones for the moment. Of the four above, the first three are cloud-based, meaning there is no need for software to be downloaded. The fourth option is a piece of software for Windows and is one of the oldest Library Management Systems on the market, with many satisfied Irish customers.

For me, I think there are a few things that every Library Management System should have as a basic. Ability to:

  • scan books (rather than having to search titles, etc.)
  • log in so it can be a self-service feature
  • add books by simply scanning in the ISBN code (Internet database should identify from ISBN)

However, aside from this, I would think the best Library Management Systems would have some or all of these features:

  • use of a camera (on a phone, tablet, iPod, etc.) to interact with books – e.g. scanning, logging in
  • fobs or membership cards for all users which can be scanned using a scanner or camera
  • ability for users to rate books once they have read them
  • the system should be able to recommend books to users based on previous borrowings
  • a decent search feature by topic, theme, etc.
  • easy way to enter users’ details, books, resources, etc. (better yet, a service, which gets someone to come to the school to physically add all your existing books to the system!)

If there’s any features that you like about Library Management Systems, I’d love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments if you’ve had any good (or bad) experiences!

Last Update: August 17, 2017  

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