For many of us, nothing seems more important than reading a book. “When in doubt go to a library,” said J. K Rowling, the writer who is well known for giving us the fantasy series Harry Potter. Libraries have been a trusted source of information. Going to a library and picking a book was fun those days. Technology has brought significant changes to libraries. These days Libraries function differently due to the digitalization. Access to information is in real-time and universal. Traditional libraries are forced to re-work on their workflow. Library management has evolved and improved to a stage never imaged in the pre-cyber era. To meet the growing demands of the digital generation, it is essential for every library to invest in efficient Library management software solutions.
Why should Libraries invest In a Library Management Software System?
From pure closed stacks of books to open stacks; from digital resources to e-collections – the concept of a library has evolved so much that today we have virtual users from anywhere using the service at anytime they wish. This sudden transformation has brought a pressing need on every library to exchange data and information across the digital library system automatically. Also, connecting with networks of libraries along with following machine-readable standards and other cataloguing standards are becoming crucial for libraries. Apart from allowing access to resources, typically, a library must be able to handle other actions like; acquisition, inventory, finance, circulation, generating statistical reports, and other references.
From Analog to Digital, Libraries have come a long way. Books are no more restricted to specific shelves now. Access is universal.
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Traditional Library functions included;
- Manually Labelling
- Manually Accessing
- Manually Sorting
- Manually Shelving
- Manually Searching
- Loads of Manual workflow activities
Since most of the management activities were carried out manually, there were high chances for errors and miss-handling with inventory collections and records management.
Today, technology has been helping to manage libraries efficiently. It has got easier for both users and librarians. Library management or library automation software solutions are widely used today.
Benefits of using Library Management Software
Be it standalone or small libraries managed by schools, universities, etc, a good library management system proves to be a worthy investment. The software, on the whole, helps in simplifying the entire library management process.
- To automate the workflow
- To reduce handling cost
- To reduce errors
- To support the continued visibility of your services
- To add value
- To retain intuitive usability
- To make access convenient
- To reach relevant content
- To maintain the database
- To leverage functionality
- To enable information sharing
- To manage your portal efficiently
- To support growth and innovation
- To take control and eliminate discrepancies
- To retain existing readers
- To generate new readers
Some of the best Library Automation software enables in managing the whole library workflow through an easy-to-use, simple and interactive interface. By using this software, a librarian can handle basic to complicated functions of a library right from collection till controlling bibliography. Users can instantly get information on any book available in the library. Privacy can be maintained, and users’ records are stored safely.
Keeping track of all the books is much easier with a Library Management Software. Added to this, overseeing fee collection, fine, late return, etc becomes much easier with the software.
Library automation software solutions are today used right from small school library to a large public library. In short, enterprise planning and resource management are much easier with library management software.
The ever-growing demand to automate library functions has been driving the library automation software market globally.
Different Types of Library Management Software
A plethora of library management system pervades the industry today. The options are vast though. Over the years, these software solutions have also matured in their functionality and usability and have efficiently adapted to the changing requirements. Pick up the one that fits your goals. Explore your options by purely starting from the most immediate goals.
Commercial Library management software solutions are designed with outstanding features, but the cost factor is pretty high. It gets difficult for many institutions and libraries to afford commercial products. An ideal alternative in such a situation open source software.
Users can try the software for free for a limited period and have to pay to use the service forever.
Cloud-based (Cloud Hosted / Subscription based)
A cloud-based library management system allows libraries to use the software without having to license or install. Hosted by a third party, the software demands some operational control cost.
This version of library automation software allows users to test the software for some time for zero cost. The free trial period can last anytime from a few weeks to a few months.
Open source library management software systems are those whose source code is available for the public to use, copy, modify and distribute. The purpose is to see a rapid evolution of the code and the program. Moreover, it also helps in correcting errors. The key advantage of open source library management software is that users can acquire and download this software freely. No developers can claim any royalties on the distribution. This approach is gaining momentum. Open Source library management solutions can be free for unlimited time or can come with some limitations. The adoption of open-source library management software is in recent days creating lucrative opportunities for market growth.
Free and Open Source
Small and medium-sized libraries very often have a stringent budget and investing in a commercial library management system is very difficult. A free and open source library management software solution enables them to automate their system in a cost-effective way.
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Comparison Chart of the Best 8 Free & Open Source Library Management Software Solutions
Link to the rest at GoodFirms