An automated library system usually consists of a number of functional modules, such as acquisitions, circulation, cataloging, serials, and an OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog). An "integrated" library system is an automated system, as described above, in which all of the functional modules share a common bibliographic database. The National Library of Medicine used the term "integrated" in referring to a system in which all automated library functions are processed against a single, master bibliographic file (Goldstein & Dick, 1980). Genaway (1984) expanded the definition and described the integrated online library system (IOLS) as "a library system that uses a common machine-readable database and has two or more subsystems operational and accessible online" (p.4).
In a system which is not integrated, there might be a bibliographic record in the catalog for a book and, if that book were to be checked out, there would be another bibliographic record for it in a circulation file. In an integrated system, there would be one bibliographic record for a book, probably created when the book was ordered, then expanded when it was cataloged. If that book were to be checked out, the patron record for the borrower would be attached to the bibliographic record, but there would not be a duplicate bibliographic record for the book in a circulation file. There are some systems which have duplicate bibliographic records but which are considered to be integrated because changes to bibliographic records are automatically propagated. For example, a change made to a bibliographic record in the acquisitions file would automatically be made to the duplicate bibliographic record in the catalog. In these quasi-integrated systems, movement between the modules and their duplicate files is facilitated by some type of linking mechanism.
There are several different ways the integration of a system can be accomplished. A library can:
-buy an integrated system, including a number of functional modules, from a single vendor;
-purchase a variety of modules from a variety of vendors and interconnect them; or
-implement any number of purchased modules, from either one or multiple vendors, and then connect them to sources of information outside the library.
-The duplication of effort to create and maintain multiple copies of bibliographic records is eliminated in an integrated system.
-Opportunities for errors are reduced when records are entered only once, and changes are automatically propagated throughout the system.
-Library staff and patrons can have access to all pertinent information at one location.
For example, in an integrated system, a patron can view a bibliographic record in the online catalog and also see that the book has been checked out and when it is due back to the library. Of course, privacy of borrowers can be protected by preventing patrons from viewing borrower information. Also, patrons can tell by looking at the online catalog, in an integrated system, that a book has been ordered, but not yet received. In a system which is not integrated, that information would be available to library staff only through the acquisitions module.
There are also a number of system performance issues which must be addressed during the selection process. Does the system have the capacity to handle the number of transactions, e.g. the number of books checked out daily, in the library without slowing to an unacceptable level of performance? How many bibliographic records and patron records can the system hold?
Also, libraries must look to the future when purchasing a system. How much growth, in terms of patrons and materials, can the system accommodate? Will the library be able to migrate from this system to another system without extensive redesign of the database?
A third approach has emerged which lies between the homegrown system and the off-the-shelf system: the generic, customizable system. This is a system which incorporates generic functions but has multiple parameters which can be set by each library, thus customizing the system for a particular setting. For example, a system of this type might include a standard function for checking out books. Borrowing periods for various categories of users will vary from library to library, and a system of this type would allow an individual library to adjust the settings for due dates based on that library's borrowing policies. The extent to which the system may be customized is great, but a library may also choose to use default settings if appropriate.
-new patterns of communication among library staff, especially between technical services staff and public services staff;
-increases in responsibility and decision making among lower level staff; and
-increased requirements for all staff to acquire technical knowledge and skills.
Many libraries have redesigned their operations to take maximum advantage of the new technology.
Cibbarelli, P., & Nixon, C. (1994). "IOLS '94 Proceedings of the ninth national conference on integrated online library systems." Medford, NJ: Learned Information.
Genaway, D. C. (1984). "Integrated online library systems: Principles, planning, and implementation." White Plains, NY: G.K. Hall.
Goldstein, C., & Dick, R. (1980). The Lister Hill Center integrated library system. "National Library of Medicine News," 35(1), 1-2.
Griffiths, J. (1994). Automated system marketplace. "Library Journal," 119(6), 50-59. (EJ 481 862)
Head, J. W., & McCabe, G. B. (Eds.). (1993). "Insider's guide to library automation: Essays of practical experience." Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Johnson, P. (1991). "Automation and organizational change in libraries." New York: Macmillan.