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Integrated library system

Integrated library system
438493



An integrated library system (ILS), also known as a library management system (LMS),is an enterprise resource planning system for a library, used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed.


An ILS usually comprises a relational database, software to interact with that database, and two graphical user interfaces (one for patrons, one for staff). Most ILSes separate software functions into discrete programs called modules, each of them integrated with a unified interface. Examples of modules might include:

  • acquisitions (ordering, receiving, and invoicing materials)
  • cataloging (classifying and indexing materials)
  • circulation (lending materials to patrons and receiving them back)
  • serials (tracking magazine and newspaper holdings)
  • the OPAC (public interface for users)

Each patron and item has a unique ID in the database that allows the ILS to track its activity.

Larger libraries use an ILS to order and acquire, receive and invoice, catalog, circulate, track and shelve materials. Smaller libraries, such as those in private homes or non-profit organizations (like churches or synagogues, for instance), often forgo the expense and maintenance required to run an ILS, and instead use a library computer system

Librarians often referred to ILSes as library automation systems or automated systems in the 1970s and early 1980s. Before the advent of computers, libraries usually used a card catalog to index their holdings. Computers came into use to automate the card catalog, thus the term automation system. Automation of the catalog saves the labor involved in resorting the card catalog, keeping it up-to-date with respect to the collection, etc. Other tasks automated include checking-out and checking-in books, generating statistics and reports, acquisitions and subscriptions, indexing journal articles and linking to them, as well as tracking interlibrary loans.

Since the late 1980s, windowing systems and multi-tasking have allowed the integration of business functions. Instead of having to open up separate applications, library staff could now use a single application with multiple functional modules.

As the Internet grew, ILS vendors offered more functionality related to computer networks. As of 2009major ILS systems offer web-based portals where library users can log in to view their account, renew their books, and authenticate themselves for access to online databases.



An integrated library system (ILS), also known as a library management system (LMS),is an enterprise resource planning system for a library, used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed.


An ILS usually comprises a relational database, software to interact with that database, and two graphical user interfaces (one for patrons, one for staff). Most ILSes separate software functions into discrete programs called modules, each of them integrated with a unified interface. Examples of modules might include:

  • acquisitions (ordering, receiving, and invoicing materials)
  • cataloging (classifying and indexing materials)
  • circulation (lending materials to patrons and receiving them back)
  • serials (tracking magazine and newspaper holdings)
  • the OPAC (public interface for users)

Each patron and item has a unique ID in the database that allows the ILS to track its activity.

Larger libraries use an ILS to order and acquire, receive and invoice, catalog, circulate, track and shelve materials. Smaller libraries, such as those in private homes or non-profit organizations (like churches or synagogues, for instance), often forgo the expense and maintenance required to run an ILS, and instead use a library computer system

Librarians often referred to ILSes as library automation systems or automated systems in the 1970s and early 1980s. Before the advent of computers, libraries usually used a card catalog to index their holdings. Computers came into use to automate the card catalog, thus the term automation system. Automation of the catalog saves the labor involved in resorting the card catalog, keeping it up-to-date with respect to the collection, etc. Other tasks automated include checking-out and checking-in books, generating statistics and reports, acquisitions and subscriptions, indexing journal articles and linking to them, as well as tracking interlibrary loans.

Since the late 1980s, windowing systems and multi-tasking have allowed the integration of business functions. Instead of having to open up separate applications, library staff could now use a single application with multiple functional modules.

As the Internet grew, ILS vendors offered more functionality related to computer networks. As of 2009major ILS systems offer web-based portals where library users can log in to view their account, renew their books, and authenticate themselves for access to online databases.


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