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    Integrated Library Systems (ILS)

An Integrated Library System (ILS), also known as an automated system, is computer software that has been developed to handle the basic functions of a library. When the software shares a common database to perform all the basic functions of a library, the system is said to be integrated. Most systems offer three basic modules—cataloging, Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), and circulation. Other library activities such as acquisition, serial control, interlibrary loan, and Web OPAC are generally optional add on modules.

There are a number of Integrated Library Systems in use by public, school, and academic libraries around the state. The dizzying number of companies and options is confusing. Selecting an ILS can be very time-consuming whether the library has already been automated or if you are still checking out with pockets and cards. Each library director and board need to examine a variety of products and decide what level of service the budget will allow and, within that parameter, which system will fulfill the community’s needs. Systems are available with a variety of functionality in every price range.

In this time of quick-changing technology, it is important to consider how your customers will view and use your catalog. This article “Managing Multiplicity: Library Systems Landscape 2015” offers information about “the impact of recent mergers, the continued adoption of next-generation library services platforms, the emergence of mobile-optimized staff clients, and new partnerships.”

One ILS option that is unique to Nebraska is the Pioneer Consortium. A group of libraries, with the help of major IMLS federal grant funding through the Nebraska Library Commission, explored different open source software solutions and selected Koha. Instead of spending the time and money to install and maintain this free software, the vendor Liblime (PFTS) was engaged. After paying PFTS to handle the technology needs, the libraries still saved a considerable amount of money compared to what was being paid to their ILS vendors for their yearly Customer Service Agreement. Currently, more than 20 libraries have joined the Pioneer Consortium. For more information about this Nebraska-based integrated library system, including steps towards membership, basic membership costs, and ease of use, go to:

Here (arranged alphabetically) are some of the commercial integrated library systems in use by public libraries in Nebraska:

Auto-graphics, VERSO:
Biblionix, Apollo:
Book Systems, Atriuum:
COMPanion Corporation, Alexandria:
Library World:
Prima Soft Small Library Organizer Pro: (inexpensive, easy-to-use, self-contained system for libraries still using pockets and cards)

Is my library automated?
If there is not a tray of book cards arranged by due date on the front desk, your library is automated. Log on to the Library Director’s computer to determine which system your library uses. If your library is not automated, consider a stand-alone product such as Prima Soft Small Library Organizer Pro (see website above).

Why won’t the automation software open and run?
Most likely there is a password necessary to login to the automation system. Ask staff and/or the Board President for the password. As a final resort, call or email the ILS company for technical assistance.

What is a Customer Service Agreement (CSA)?
All commercial integrated library systems require a yearly payment for system maintenance and upgrades. Those fees are called CSAs. When selecting an ILS, it is crucial to know what the ongoing expenses of the system will be. If you decide to join the Pioneer Consortium, there will be an annual maintenance fee, but it will most likely be less than other systems’ CSAs.

Can my community access the library’s OPAC on the Internet from home?
Your library’s OPAC, Online Public Access Catalog, might or might not be online. If the library’s software has been recently updated, most likely there is a web-based catalog. Clarify this question with your staff and/or Library Board.

Who do I call with questions about cataloging?
The Cataloging and Technical Services Librarian at the Nebraska Library Commission provides cataloging training and support to any Nebraska library staff performing cataloging functions. Questions about subject heading assignment, call number assignment, MARC records, cataloging rules, OCLC cataloging, or any other cataloging-related topics can be directed to the Cataloging Librarian via telephone, 1-800-307-2665. You may also call your Regional Library System Director.

If you have more and/or detailed questions about the functions of your library’s integrated library system, please call your Regional Library System Director to set a date and time for a consultation.

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