In this tech-driven age, we see automation and AI transform many of our daily operations. These modern technological tools have influenced most industries and the education sector is no exception. With the use of the right tech tools, libraries are transforming into smart libraries. In this article, we will share with you tech tools that can be used in libraries to help you create the library of the future.
Content Curation Platforms
Educational institutions and libraries have already been using digital curation boards to provide library resource guides. These resource guides let the users make the most out of the available library resources. These guides are easy to edit and can be shared on multiple platforms.
Librarians are capable of curating digital assets, making them eligible to utilize the power of content curation. Here are some reasons for librarians to start curating content.
- Content curation keeps the library service up to the mark and relevant to the reader’s demands.
- It puts librarians in the position of experts.
- Identifying what the intended audience demands.
Content curation can be used by librarians in many ways. For example, a school library can assist with curriculum planning using content curation. There are several options when it comes to choosing a content curation tool. Always consider the tools that fulfill your requirements and suit you the best. Whether you want to design the front page of a book or create infographics to present information in a better way, content curation tools can be used to create the desired material.
Online Public Access Catalog
Most libraries nowadays are providing an online public access catalog to display their collection and let users easily navigate it to find the reading material they need. These systems can tell whether the search for reading material is available and the location in the library where you will find those works. This online library catalog is a crucial component of a modern library. With the correct use of technological tools like OPAC, it has become possible for a user to access library resources from any remote location as long as they have an internet connection, a computer, and administrative access to the catalog.
The search criteria in open public access catalogs can be modified accordingly. For example, a book can be searched by the name of the author, a keyword in the title, the class number, or a combination of these filters for a specific search result. The display of search results can also be tweaked by the librarian.
Digital Library Services
Most notably, the use of tech tools is increasing in libraries as more people are inclined to use digital services offered by libraries. There are several digital services offered by libraries. However, we will be exploring the three most popular digital services that use almost the same technological solutions.
In the pursuit of facilitating people to seek answers to questions, reference services are offered by modern libraries that connect an individual seeking answers to people who have the expertise to answer their query.
Managing bibliographies, reading lists, and reports is one of the most important areas that most modern libraries work on, especially if these are academic libraries. Going through indexes is indeed a daunting task that does not produce the desired results. Access to library databases through online services is a cost-effective, efficient, and convenient way to retrieve information.
Audio and video materials are engaging sources of information, educational material, and entertainment. Most libraries have a database of audio-visual material like pictures, music, film, etc. Nowadays, even digital formats like CDs and DVDs have become obsolete.
Sophisticated tech solutions like cloud-based storage services are used nowadays to provide a database containing audio and visual material. It has become easier to compress a huge file and upload it to the database to be accessed.
Library Management Systems
A library management system is a collection of tech tools integrated into a single tech solution that can manage the functions of a library. Maintaining the database, keeping track of the borrowed books with their due date, and adding new books are made easier using this sophisticated management system.
Using the system, it is possible to automate the activities of a library. This system allows the systematic storage of countless amounts of books without the hassle. Every available library management software that is on the market has a unique set of features so always check whether the offered services are required or not. The latest library management systems offer automation services where most of the work can be automated using this management system.
Nowadays, technologies like cloud storage, SMS services, email, RFIDs, and payment gateways can be added to these systems to achieve the best outcomes. Below are the different modules of a library management system that can be added or removed according to the requirements.
Acquisition and cataloging have been made easier with these systems as it facilitates the creation and management of books. You can easily add new books, catalog them, and create a database that can be used by users to search for their favorite books.
With this module, it becomes hassle-free to manage the subscription services and keep track of borrowed books, book renewals, and cancellations, making it easier for the librarian to manage everything in a simple yet sophisticated manner.
These MIS reports provide valuable insights to the library management so they can make informed decisions. For example, a librarian can get access to the previous transaction data by executing a few simple steps.
OPAC and M-OPAC
Both of these modules can either be used as standalone tech tools in the library or be integrated into library management systems to get the best outcomes. We have already mentioned OPAC as a stand-alone tech tool so let’s explore what the M-OPAC module has to offer. Similar to OPAC, M-OPAC is a mobile-friendly way of accessing the digital catalog. The M-OPAC modules are smartphone apps that provide easy access to library catalogs.
The benefits of using a library management system are worth the effort. Here are some of the key advantages of using an LMS.
- Provides a user-friendly interface.
- Library resources are available round the clock.
- A Secure system for easy management.
- Procurement, tracking, and cataloging of books are made easy using LMS.
- Streamlines work processes that ultimately lead to improved efficiency.
Besides the above-mentioned advantages, one of the most impactful advantages of these systems is that they can be tweaked up according to the requirements. Modules can be easily added or removed, depending on the usage.
Most libraries have repositories of historical documents, paintings, maps, etc. In research organizations and university libraries using tech for record management is nothing new. More libraries are focusing on curating this repository and making them available via the internet or through controlled access. The incorporation of cloud services has further facilitated data collection and management. Libraries are slowly going digital as more users are inclined to use digital services.
The main benefit of having digital data is that it can be accessed anywhere and anytime.
Similar to digital libraries, institutional repositories are also made available by educational institutions which offer access to digital material produced by the institution or contributed by the community.
The Future of Libraries
There are several promising technologies and tools that can take libraries to the next level. Here are some of the notable mentions that we will be seeing shortly.
Big data is the most valuable asset in today’s world. The generated user data can be analyzed to know the user preferences so the libraries can provide better services to the communities that are providing the services.
Internet of Things
Nowadays, it's necessary to stay connected to the internet. Similar to RFID tech, IOT facilitates connecting digital devices and transferring data between them. IoT tools can be used to monitor an area like checking usage in a specific area of the library. The tech can even be programmed to monitor humidity levels in the building to ensure the extra moisture build-up can be lowered on time.
We have already seen automation and AI being used in many industries, leading to increased efficiency. Integrating AI can aid in understanding human behaviors and patterns which can be used to make informed decisions. However, the practical applications of AI in libraries are being worked on and we might see AI tech being used in libraries as well.
The use of digital educational material has skyrocketed, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With technologies like cloud computing, access to the internet, and the availability of smart devices, remote learning is made possible. Several public libraries have already provided these remote learning resources to the public.
Nevertheless, technology is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how libraries operate. From simplifying the cataloging process to keeping track of books, tech has made these daunting tasks easy to execute and hassle-free. We hope that the information we shared helps you better understand the role of tech tools in library management and operations.