Integrated library system

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Not to be confused with Library (computing).

An integrated library system (ILS), also known as a library management system (LMS),[1][2] is an enterprise resource planning system for a library, used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed.

An ILS usually comprises a relational database, software to interact with that database, and two graphical user interfaces (one for patrons, one for staff). Most ILSes separate software functions into discrete programs called modules, each of them integrated with a unified interface. Examples of modules might include:

  • acquisitions (ordering, receiving, and invoicing materials)
  • cataloging (classifying and indexing materials)
  • circulation (lending materials to patrons and receiving them back)
  • serials (tracking magazine and newspaper holdings)
  • the OPAC (public interface for users)

Each patron and item has a unique ID in the database that allows the ILS to track its activity.

Larger libraries use an ILS to order and acquire, receive and invoice, catalog, circulate, track and shelve materials. Smaller libraries, such as those in private homes or non-profit organizations (like churches or synagogues, for instance), often forgo the expense and maintenance required to run an ILS, and instead use a library computer system.[citation needed]



Prior to computerization, library tasks were performed manually and independently from one another. Selectors ordered materials with ordering slips, cataloguers manually catalogued items and indexed them with the card catalog system (in which all bibliographic data was kept on a single index card), fines were collected by local bailiffs, and users signed books out manually, indicating their name on cue cards which were then kept at the circulation desk. Early mechanization came in 1936, when the University of Texas began using a punch card system to manage library circulation.[3] While the punch card system allowed for more efficient tracking of loans, library services were far from being integrated, and no other library task was affected by this change.

1960s: the influence of computer technologies[edit]

Following this, the next big innovation came with the advent of MARC standards in the 1960s which coincided with the growth of computer technologies – library automation was born.[3] From this point onwards, libraries began experimenting with computers, and, starting in the late 1960s and continuing into the 1970s, bibliographic services utilizing new online technology and the shared MARC vocabulary entered the market; these included OCLC (1967), Research Libraries Group (which has since merged with OCLC), and Washington Library Network (which became Western Library Network and is also now part of OCLC).[4]

1970s–1980s: the early integrated library system[edit]

Screenshot of a Dynix menu

The 1970s can be characterized by improvements in computer storage as well as in telecommunications.[4] As a result of these advances, ‘turnkey systems on microcomputers,’[4] known more commonly as integrated library systems (ILS) finally appeared. These systems included necessary hardware and software which allowed the connection of major circulation tasks, including circulation control and overdue notices.[5] As the technology developed, other library tasks could be accomplished through ILS as well, including acquisition, cataloguing, reservation of titles, and monitoring of serials.[6]

1990s–2000s: the growth of the Internet[edit]

With the evolution of the Internet throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, ILSs began allowing users to more actively engage with their libraries through OPACs and online web-based portals. Users could log into their library accounts to reserve or renew books, as well as authenticate themselves for access to library-subscribed online databases. Inevitably, during this time, the ILS market grew exponentially. By 2002, the ILS industry averaged sales of approximately US$500 million annually, compared to just US$50 million in 1982.[5]

Mid 2000s–Present: increasing costs and customer dissatisfaction[edit]

By the mid to late 2000s, ILS vendors had increased not only the number of services offered but also their prices, leading to some dissatisfaction among many smaller libraries. At the same time, open source ILS was in its early stages of testing. Some libraries began turning to such open source ILSs as Koha and Evergreen. Common reasons noted were to avoid vendor lock in, avoid license fees, and participate in software development. Freedom from vendors also allowed libraries to prioritize needs according to urgency, as opposed to what their vendor can offer.[7] Libraries which have moved to open source ILS have found that vendors are now more likely to provide quality service in order to continue a partnership since they no longer have the power of owning the ILS software and tying down libraries to strict contracts.[7] This has been the case with the SCLENDS consortium. Following the success of Evergreen for the Georgia PINES library consortium, the South Carolina State Library along with some local public libraries formed the SCLENDS consortium in order to share resources and to take advantage of the open source nature of the Evergreen ILS to meet their specific needs.[7] By October 2011, just 2 years after SCLENDS began operations, 13 public library systems across 15 counties had already joined the consortium, in addition to the South Carolina State Library. does an annual survey of over 2,400 libraries and noted in 2008 2%[8] of those surveyed used open source ILS, in 2009 the number increased to 8%,[9] in 2010 12%,[10] and in 2011 11%[11] of the libraries polled had adopted open source ILSs. The following year's survey (published in April 2013) reported an increase to 14%, stating that "open source ILS products, including Evergreen and Koha, continue to represent a significant portion of industry activity. Of the 794 contracts reported in the public and academic arena, 113, or 14 percent, were for support services for these open source systems." [12]

2010s–Present: the rise of cloud based solutions[edit]

The use of cloud based library management systems has increased drastically since the rise of "cloud" technology started. Some common management systems include OCLC WorldShare, Alma, Libramatic, Aura Software and Librarika. Many modern cloud based solutions allow automated cataloging by scanning a book's ISBN. This technology was pioneered by Libramatic, although it is currently in use by systems such as LibraryWorld. Librarika has a method called "Smart Add" that lets Librarians to add book automatically by just inputing the ISBNs. In addition, Librarika offers free library creation with built-in OPAC for up to 10,000 book titles with the ability to get more free titles for non-profit and charities, which serves well for many school, college and other small libraries.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adamson, Veronica, et al. (2008). JISC & SCONUL Library Management Systems Study PDF (1 MB). Sheffield, UK: Sero Consulting. p. 51. Retrieved on 21 January 2009. "... a Library Management System (LMS or ILS 'Integrated Library System' in US parlance)." Some useful library automation software are: KOHA ,Grennstone .LIBsis, and granthlaya.
  2. ^ Tennant, Roy (16 April 2008). "Picking When to Jump, Part 2". Library Journal. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 20 January 2009. "Across the pond they use the term library management systems (LMS) for what we call the integrated library system (ILS)." 
  3. ^ a b Wallace, Patricia M. (1991). Gary M. Pitkin, ed. Library Systems Migration: An Introduction. Westport, CT: Meckler. pp. 1–7 [3]. ISBN 0-88736-738-0. 
  4. ^ a b c Wallace, Patricia M. (1991). Gary M. Pitkin, ed. Library Systems Migration: An Introduction. Westport, CT: Meckler. pp. 1–7 [4]. ISBN 0-88736-738-0. 
  5. ^ a b Kochtanek, Thomas R. (2002). "1 - The Evolution of LIS and Enabling Technologies". Library Information Systems: From Library Automation to Distributed Information Access Solutions. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. p. 4. ISBN 1-59158-018-8. 
  6. ^ Kochtanek, Thomas R. (2002). "1 - The Evolution of LIS and Enabling Technologies". Library Information Systems: From Library Automation to Distributed Information Access Solutions. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. p. 5. ISBN 1-59158-018-8. 
  7. ^ a b c Hamby, R.; McBride, R.; Lundberg, M. (Oct 2011). "South Carolina’s SCLENDS optimizing libraries, transforming lending". Computers in Libraries. 8 31: 6–10. 
  8. ^ Perceptions 2008: an International Survey of Library Automation. Retrieved on 2013-08-17.
  9. ^ Perceptions 2009: an International Survey of Library Automation. Retrieved on 2013-08-17.
  10. ^ Perceptions 2010: an International Survey of Library Automation. Retrieved on 2013-08-17.
  11. ^ Perceptions 2011: an International Survey of Library Automation. (2012-01-28). Retrieved on 2013-08-17.
  12. ^ Automation Marketplace 2013: The Rush to Innovate. Library Journal on (2013-04-13). Retrieved on 2014-02-03.

Further reading[edit]

  • Olson, N. (2010). Taken for Granted - The Construction of Order in the Process of Library Management System Decision Making (Vol. 45). Göteborg / Borås: Valfrid publishing. [1]
  • Rubin, Richard E. Foundations of Library and Information Science. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2004.

External links[edit]