Marji Gibbs   LIS 407 LEB Cataloging and Classification I      2/11/2003

Integrated Library Systems

Integrated library systems (ILS) are library automation software systems modules that share a database. At the minimum, an ILS will offer cataloging, online public access catalog (OPAC), and circulation (checkout, holds) modules. Often other modules are available, such as acquisitions, serials, reporting (including statistics such as circulation, collection, holds, recalls, remote use, fines), interlibrary loan, and more. Authority control may be a separate module. Web catalog access is usually a separate module, available at additional cost. Most integrated systems include a utilities module, with functions such as backups, checking database integrity, and rebuilding database files, subject heading files, and file indexes. If funding is a problem, smaller libraries may buy modules separately. Generally modules must be purchased from the same vendor, in order to use the same database design.

Since the 1980's automated systems have evolved on four types of computer hardware: mainframes, minicomputers, client-server implementations, and PC-based systems, (either standalone or networked). An ILS is generally directed toward either medium to large libraries or consortia (libraries with more than several hundred thousand titles), or toward smaller libraries. There are nearly two dozen larger systems and more than a dozen smaller systems on the market in 2000, all of which handle standard library functions quite well (Saffady 28-32). Globalization is a trend for integrated systems; North American vendors have reached international markets with subsidiaries abroad, providing 75% of the ILS market worldwide, and several European, Pacific, and Israeli vendors serve a market in North America (Saffady 49-51).

Along with MARC standards, integrated library systems utilize other standards and conventions to facilitate materials handling and information sharing. This paper looks at two areas of conventions and standards that impact the ILS, bar coding and Z39.50 standards. It also looks at two ILS modules of greatest importance to catalogers, the cataloging and OPAC modules, at some future trends in integrated systems, and at resources for selecting systems.

I. Conventions and standards

Bar code conventions
ILS materials are often managed using barcodes. Barcode labels display the name of the library and display bars and spaces correlating to a printed number. Barcode numbers can use digits from 0 to 9, or can use a range of alphanumeric characters and special characters. Many typologies are available, and they are not interchangeable. 14-digit bar codes conventionally contain four sets of characters: X   XXXX   XXXXXXXX   X.
Bar codes link a material to a MARC record via entering the barcode number into the local holdings field of the record. If a barcode number is assigned to a cataloged item before the barcode label is printed, the barcode label can include the item's title and call number when it is printed. A barcode label printed after the MARC record is linked to the barcode, showing the title of the book, is called a smart barcode.
Smart bar codes Dumb bar codes
Sample smart barcodes   Sample 1 dumb barcode Sample 2 dumb barcode

In contrast, a dumb barcode is printed without the title of an item, because at printing time it is not yet linked to a MARC record. When the barcode number is assigned to an item, the barcode number must be input into the MARC record to link the item to its record (Bilal 110).

Z39.50 standard

The Z39.50 standard allows users to access OPACs and bibliographic and reference databases on the web via client/server technology, and to display data from them by using one common interface, regardless of the automated system hardware, software, or database being used. It allows systems to link over the web, no matter what software or platform (for instance, Unix, PC or Mac). Most vendors have implemented this standard (Bilal 5).
Z39.50 is a national standard defining a protocol for computer-to-computer information retrieval. Z39.50 makes it possible for a user in one system to search and retrieve information from other computer systems (that have also implemented Z39.50) without knowing the search syntax that is used by those other systems. Z39.50 is an American National Standard that was originally approved the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) in 1988 (Library of Congress ).
In particular, Z39.50 client software can be purchased to import MARC records for copy cataloging, from the Library of Congress Catalog or any other catalog that offers a Z39.50 server. (An integrated library system database can also acquire MARC records via keying by hand, from a retrospective conversion process from a card catalog system, from tape or CD-ROM cataloging utilities.) Bilal points out that free MARC records from the web may be compromised in reliability and accuracy, especially those not from the Library of Congress. Cleaning records up is important when adding them to the library catalog (156). Accurate data is crucial for the library database, because data is a key investment for the library. Though hardware and software will become outdated and be upgraded, the data will migrate from system to system for the life of the library.

II. ILS modules and cataloging

Cataloging module
Though the OPAC is the ILS module most visible to library patrons, the cataloging module is the "heart" of the ILS, because cataloging is necessary to set up the OPAC (Bilal 3). The ILS cataloging module allows records to be created, retrieved, added, maintained, and exported from the library's catalog database. Systems typically provide templates for original cataloging of various material formats (Saffady 38). The automated cataloging module supplies much of the information in the MARC record leader (Bilal 104). When a record is saved in the cataloging database, the record automatically appears in the OPAC and a brief copy of the record is generated automatically for the circulation module (Bilal 3).

Systems that run on PCs or in a client-server mode allow functions similar to desktop word processing such as cutting and pasting between windows and spell-check. Some software validates MARC field and subfield codes. Even the lowest-priced PC systems display work forms to facilitate original cataloging, can handle MARC21 formats, and can import machine-readable records (Saffady 53). Typically, cataloging databases can handle partial MARC records without problems (38).

Most systems have authority control, but some PC-based systems do not. Most systems support see and see also cross-references. Some systems create thesaurus cross-references for broader, narrower, or related terms, but they are integrated systems primarily intended for corporate and government libraries.

OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog)
OPACs are the part of the integrated system that patrons interact with the most, often without librarian assistance. First generation OPACs took on the tasks of the card catalog: searching by author, title, and subject. Second generation OPACs allowed searching by keyword as well as author, title, and subject; Boolean and proximity searching, wildcards, limits by date, type of material, and specific library collection. Third generation OPACs employ client/server architecture and Z39.50 standards (Bilal 159). Some integrated systems allow the library to designate fields to be indexed for retrieval purposes. In other cases, the vendor predetermines the indexed fields.

OPACs utilize two types of menus: text driven and graphical interface. Many library users are already familiar with graphical user interfaces in office software and Internet access, so they expect those features and may find text-based menu programs unsatisfactory (Saffady 41). Although text-based menus can run on less expensive hardware, vendors are ceasing to support them.

Integration with the circulation module allows the OPAC module to display the circulation status of an item: available, at bindery, in circulation (due date), in processing, lost, missing, on order, on reserve, etc. OPAC search capabilities vary from system to system. Several integrated systems offer an optional union catalog component that consolidates the catalogs of multiple libraries (Saffady 41-42).

Web catalogs
The popularity and wide-spread use of the Internet has spurred development of web-based OPACs, usually purchased as a separate module. They can be searched from outside of the library around the clock, and offer options to place holds and initiate ILL requests. Web catalogs can also give patrons online access to their own records of items they have checked out, on hold, fines, and blocks. "Presence of OPACs on the web has become the norm" (Bilal 156).

III. Future directions

Though cataloging, OPAC, and circulation functions are standard fare, automated systems are constantly evolving. Systems are being redesigned to fit computer platforms of the 21st century, particularly with mainframe and mini-computer software being adapted to take advantage of the improved capacities offered by client/server hardware (53). Libraries can also upgrade to graphical user interfaces, web connectivity, and enhanced modules for their patrons.
Barry notes a trend of system innovations arising from systems librarians in large academic libraries, rather than from vendors. When shown successful, vendors incorporate the ideas (Barry "Delivering").
Some trends arising in integrated systems include:

IV. Buying a new system

Client/server implementations offer flexible designs to fit varied library collections, and they have been replacing mainframe and minicomputer-based products (Saffady 32). Marshall Breeding notes that ILS vendors support outdated software much longer than vendors in other industries, for fear of losing customers, since the point when a library migrates from an ILS system to the next generation of system can be a point when a library switches vendors. Breeding notes a trend of library software vendor consolidations, so that there are fewer vendors each year, noting it takes larger companies to have the resources to make advances in ILS system performance (Breeding "State").

A wide variety of library journals and websites present articles that document a library's experiences with a specific vendor product. So many different integrated systems are available that it is beyond the scope of this paper to look at them individually. Some resources that compare integrated systems include:

In an environment of ever-changing technology and information structures, new generations of integrated systems will be forthcoming. Integrated systems all offer cataloging and OPAC modules that facilitate cataloging and information access, to meet the needs of the library's users. Different systems offer variations so that libraries must fit the ILS to their cataloging and patron situations. Sometimes it can be difficult to find all the desired features in a single ILS (and at the desired price). Vendor support is crucial; vendors offer system upgrades, some annually as part of the user's maintenance agreement, both to correct problems and to enhance system capablilities in a changing environment.

Bilal's new edition is a readable yet thorough resource for automating for the first time. Though the Library Technology Reports articles by Saffady and Beiser are lengthy for the busy librarian to read, they were based on detailed comparisons of systems as well as extensive vendor questionnaires. Having automated a small school library last year, I was pleased to see that our Follett system compared favorably in the literature and pleased to find helpful resources available for system evaluation and selection. (I did have a frustration with the cataloging module that I did not find addressed in the literature.) Since a library will tend to be interested in either a larger or a smaller system, a significant portion of the Library Journal and Information Today articles may be irrelevant for that reader. However, Library Technology Reports, Library Journal , and Information Today were all unafraid of naming vendors' strengths and weaknesses as they track the changes in the ILS market today.

Main Resources:
Bilal, Dania. Automating media centers and small libraries: A microcomputer-based approach. 2nd edition. Greenwood Village, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2002.

Saffady, William. "The Status of Library Automation at 2000." Library Technology Reports. 36 (1), Jan. 2000 3-70. (Accessed 29 Jan. 2003.)

Other Resources:
Barry, Jeff. "Closing in on Content." Library Journal. 1 Apr. 2001: 46-54.

Barry, Jeff. "Delivering the personalized library." Library Journal. 125 (6), 1 Apr. 2000: 49-60.

Barry, Jeff, Dania Bilal, and W. David Penniman. "The Competitive Struggle." Library Journal. 123 (6) , 1 Apr. 1998:43-52.

Beiser, Karl A. " Integrated Library System Software for Smaller Libraries, Part 1: Special, Academic and Public Libraries." Library Technology Reports. Apr. 1999: 119-262.

Beiser, Karl A. " Integrated Library System Software for Smaller Libraries, Part 2: School, Academic and Public Libraries." Library Technology Reports. Jul. 1999: 365-396.

Breeding, Marshall. "Capturing the Migrating Customer." Library Journal. 127(6), Apr. 1, 2002: 48-60.

Breeding, Marshall. "An update to open souce ILS: These systems could soon offer a viable alternative to commercial products." Information Today. 19 (9), Oct. 2002: 42-43.

Breeding, Marshall. "Using the lib-web-cats directory: this tool can be a big help when selecting a new automation system." Information Today. 19(10), Nov. 2002: 46-47.

Breeding, Marshall. "The State of the Art in Systems." Information Today. 18 (6), Jun. 2001 : 46-47.

Evans, Peter. "Trends, pressures, and realities in the library systems marketplace." American Libraries. 31 (9), Oct 2000, p.51-53.

Karetzky, Stephen. "Choosing an automated system." Library Journal. 123 (11), 15 Jun. 1998, p.42-44.

Prestebak, Jane and Konnie Wightman. "Losing our Drawers." School Library Journal. Oct. 2000: 66-74.

Riedling, Ann M. "Altogether Automation." Book Report. 20 (4), Jan./Feb. 2002 : 26-28.

OPACs on the web:

Library of Congress Z39.50 Gateway Libraries with Z39.50 servers
Lib-Web-Cats List of libraries and their integrated system vendor
LibWeb Access to 6500 library websites worldwide