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Smarter Libraries through Technology: Strengthening the Impact of Print Collections

Smart Libraries Newsletter [September 2019]

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Despite increased interest in digital and electronic content, libraries continue to manage print materials as a core part of their work. While much of the new opportunities lie in digital content and services, the future of libraries also depends on how well they can manage the diminishing—yet persistent—print collections. Current trends do not point toward a future of all digital libraries. Rather complex, multi-format collections composed of print and electronic resources will prevail for the indefinite future.

Technologies for managing traditional print collections are well established. The business patterns for acquisitions, cataloging, and circulation were developed several decades ago and form the core of integrated library systems (ILSs). Over the years the initial processes have been significantly enhanced, handing off many processes to external systems. Examples include increasingly automated acquisitions through vendor ordering platforms able to transfer bibliographic, holdings, and item records with little human intervention. Integration protocols, such as SIP2, Z39.50, EDI, and custom APIs, enable transfer of data in and out of the ILS, often replacing tasks manually performed by library personnel.

A variety of different components supplement the ILS in the management of print materials. Self-service kiosks and automated material handling have become more dominant touch points for the circulation of library materials than the traditional service desk. Often, public library patrons interact with the interface of the self-service kiosk just as much as the online catalog. Automated material handling equipment, such as smart book returns and centralized sorters, perform essential logistical tasks and are especially appreciated in busy public libraries. While most libraries use the online catalog or discovery service provided with their ILS, many have implemented replacement products. BiblioCommons has attracted a growing base of public libraries to their BiblioCore discovery interface and BiblioWeb content management system. Open source discovery interfaces based on VuFind or Blacklight have likewise been implemented successfully in academic and public libraries.

Although some aspects of the ILS have been handed off to other systems, it nonetheless remains core to the public library business infrastructure. It provides the fundamental infrastructure for bibliographic description of the collection, budget, and financial management for materials acquisition and patron data and services.

In the realm of academic libraries, the functionality related to print management lives alongside electronic resource management within the library services platform. While academic libraries have seen electronic resources rise at the expense of print materials, physical collections remain highly valued. As academic library budgets become increasingly constrained to acquire print materials, these institutions are implementing novel strategies to get the most impact of these collections, primarily through collaboration with peer institutions. In August 2019, for example, a new report was published that describes the work of the Big Ten Academic Alliance to create a collaborative shared collection among its member libraries. The report discusses the processes and strategies that have achieved a shared collection of massive scale and the opportunities to add even more value through additional efforts.1 The ReCAP (Research Collections and Preservation Consortium) high-density storage facility shared by Princeton University, Columbia University, New York Public Library, and Harvard University serves as another example of increased impact of physical collections. This large-scale, offsite storage facility provides a massive volume of collection materials to the users of each of the member participations.

This issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter features the Intelligent Material Management System (IMMS) from Lyngsoe Systems to efficiently manage library collections. This innovative product uses enriched inventory data from the library's ILS and detailed information regarding the shelving and storage locations throughout the library system to achieve substantial savings in logistical costs. The Lyngsoe IMMS illustrates the interest by libraries in implementing technologies that can help optimize their services surrounding their print collections.

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Publication Year:2019
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 39 Number 09
Issue:September 2019
Page(s):1-2
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Series: Smarter Libraries through Technology
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
ISSN:1541-8820
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Record Number:24766
Last Update:2022-11-14 05:40:06
Date Created:2019-12-21 11:12:27
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