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Library Management Systems: Development directions


Project Duration: 1st March 2016 – 31st July 2016

“Carillion has commissioned HRI Digital to develop Phase 1 of a new type of library management system that aims to overcome the deficiencies of existing systems in the library automation software sector

“Project Description

Following the successful scoping project between HRI Digital and Carillion to explore the future of local public libraries and library management systems (funded by a University of Sheffield Collaborative R&D Award), Carillion has commissioned HRI Digital to develop Phase 1 of a new type of library management system that aims to overcome the deficiencies of existing systems in the library automation software sector. The chief characteristics of Oxeye will be:

  • Extensible database, so that new types of information, services and apps can be developed without the need to re-configure the existing database or bolt on additional components.
  • A service-oriented architecture. Services are created as standalone but visually similar apps, built around the needs (workflow) of the user (customer or staff). A library might then choose to bundle apps into a single site (e.g. for desktop PC delivery) or as a workspace containing distinct apps (e.g. for mobile/tablet delivery).
  • A web-based, system-agnostic architecture. In other words, the system can be used on any desktop, mobile and handheld device. The user only needs access to the internet via a web browser. Each app will be responsive to the device on which it is being used.
  • Customers and staff see the same interface. Only the user’s status will determine what they can and cannot see.
  • The interface will look clean and modern.

The ambition is to develop a library management system that is familiar to us, in the sense that it looks and behaves like the rest of our digital universe. Few library management systems achieve this at present. When completed, the system will be deployed across four London boroughs – Hounslow, Croydon, Ealing and Harrow – which are visited by millions of people each year. The system will be developed by HRI Digital in close consultation with Carillion’s IT services team and will eventually be deployed using a cloud-based hosting service.

Factors influencing the development of LMSs

‘Change will be relentless.’By Ken Chad. CILIP Update September 2012

If you are in the market for library systems, what should you be looking for? Needs vary across sectors: corporate, legal, public, school, college, and university – and circumstances differ between individual organisations. Nevertheless, there are enduring similarities between libraries and these are reflected in the market for library systems. The library management system – LMS (or, in US parlance, the integrated library system – ILS) remains the core system for many libraries. However, the weakness of the conventional LMS in terms of managing electronic resources means it is diminishing in importance.The article looks at the key technology themes influencing library system development.


Automation market place summary (2016)

Library Systems Report 2016

Power plays By Marshall Breeding American Libraries. May 2, 2016

From the article

“A new shape of the industry

Some of the most significant shifts of strength in the history of the industry took place in 2015, and a new set of dynamics emerged with important implications. Consolidation among top players occurred in both the library software and RFID sectors. Each recently acquired smaller companies to expand into additional product areas synergistic with business strategies or new international regions.

The transitions seen in 2015 were not lateral changes of ownership among investors but strategic acquisitions that concentrated power among a smaller number of much larger companies and reassembled product portfolios. Libraries may resist consolidation, but this could enable the development of technology products and services that are less fragmented and better able to support libraries as they provide access to increasingly complex collections.

A number of major business transitions transpired this year, and each significantly affected a corner of the industry.”

A UK local authority (public library) perspective (2009)

Steven Heywood

Systems Manager

Rochdale Library Service

01706 924967

The public library service’s involvement in the development of library management systems lacks direction. Why? The service is fragmented — politically and culturally — and a bewildering array of technological possibilities is presented to decision-makers who don’t always appreciate that the technology is integral to their service. It is difficult to see a unified, coherent suite of developments being arrived at; or who would be selling their adoption to local authorities worrying about delivery to wider agendas.

Everybody thinks they know what public libraries do but every view is different. So it is with the functionality of a library management system. It should have a patron/borrower database, and a catalogue, and it should issue and return books, but what else should it be doing? Do library managers have a clear idea of what they want their LMS to do and why? Or even why they might need to be spending time and money on a new LMS rather than just pootling along with their legacy system?

A local authority developing a single front end to eighty different services with no extra resources and crippling deadlines (a fair description of the t-gov agenda) will want to go for the simplest, cleanest option. Traditional LMS assumptions will be challenged in the process:

  • Why does library data have to be so complicated? Why a complicated MARC record format when the stationery supplies are in a simple table? Why bother with international library formats at all?
  • Do corporate considerations override the business needs of the library service? How many interactive and interesting public library sites that spoke directly to their audiences and sold their services well have been replaced by a few anodyne directory sheets plugged onto the Local Government Navigation List? Why should the LMS be different?
  • Is it more important to build interoperability with disparate services within the organisation or with shared library services across authority boundaries? Locally, the important thing is that the LMS works with the council's CRM, finance, e-procurement et al. Does it matter that it talks usefully to other organisations’ systems, despite public libraries having shared systems like regional loans since the 1930s?

Library service managers who understand what they want to get out of its LMS and can demonstrate how the consequent benefits to the service and its customers feed into their authority's performance outcomes will be at an advantage. Public libraries successfully manage a huge throughput of transactions — we're a small authority averaging 20,000 searches, 2,000 log-ins and 10,000 renewals online, an order of magnitude greater than the number of planning applications. Service managers showing that these throughputs are a consequence of the way the LMS works with the business of the public library service, adding value and opportunity to the corporate benefit will prosper.

Service managers who don't know what they want out of its LMS and don't have a response to “shouldn't the catalogue just be a list of books?” will struggle and will deserve to.

The impact of Google: Library Journal's interview with Jeff Jarvis

'LJ Talks to Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? By Norman Oder. Library Journal, 22nd January 2009

This article was cited in the CILIP 2009 Presidential address in October 2009. 'Shifting the library paradigm'. By Peter Griffiths. The presentation is available on slideshare.

Here's a taster of the LJ article [Jeff Jarvis]…'Google acts like libraries. It is the mission of both to organize the world’s information, to make it openly accessible, to find and present the most authoritative (by many definitions) sources, to instill an ethic of information use in the public, to act as a platform for communities of information, to encourage creation.

So how could libraries, in turn, think like Google? Some libraries act as platforms for community content creation (one of my first efforts in hyperlocal community journalism,, made with the Medill School of Journalism, is now run by the library). In how many ways could a library act as a platform for the community to inform itself by providing tools and training for content creation?

How can libraries collect the wisdom of the crowd that is their communities (e.g., creating collaborative town wikis and maps made by the community)? Librarians and their expert patrons could curate the web and create topic pages that would rise in Google search as valuable resources for the world (if your library is in Florida, it could maintain the best collections of sources for information on manatees or sunburns). What I’d really like to do is brainstorm this question with your readers on my blog: How could they be Googlier?

I think librarians will have a key role in what I believe will be a distributed future of education… in a limitless web of teachers and students no longer bound by a classroom or campus or by geography. Librarians, like Google and like learners, are thinking past their libraries. '

lms_development_directions.txt · Last modified: 2019/02/11 13:00 by