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How to choose a library management system that fits your needs

With many library systems on the market, how do you choose the right library system? Don’t just ask your friends which library system they use. What’s suitable for them may not be suitable for you. Although it’s also worth listening to recommendation.


Simple little library system

So, it is possible that you have already made the choice to replace current library system, either due to the high expenses of support and maintenance, or possibly because your existing system no longer satisfies your requirements. You are currently confronted with what may appear to be an overwhelming selection of systems available on the market. Here is a useful advice that will assist you in avoiding an expensive error while ensuring that you make the best selection possible for your organization.


First and foremost, make sure that your goals are very clear.

What do we want to accomplish?

Take a look at the elements of your current setup that you enjoy using, make a list, and then ask yourself, “What are we attempting to accomplish here?” You should find that these two elements are helpful in shaping your list of goals. Next, add to your list the components of a new system that you require but that your current system does not provide or does not perform very well. It is recommended that you carry out this task before you investigate new library items or external specs. If you don’t, you can find yourself with a specification that includes a list of every potential feature found in a library system as well as a list of every new gimmick found in all of the systems you have encountered. To put it another way, avoid being overly specific, and make sure you have a good grasp on your goals before you consider anything else.


Work with the IT department

You don’t want to go to the trouble of selecting a system, just to find out later that it won’t function well in the technological environment that you have. For instance, your company’s IT manager could advise you to steer clear of any systems that are built on proprietary databases, given that only the vendor is aware of how those databases function. Equally, they can tell you that you have to select a system that is compatible with all of the main browsers.


Investigate the various products that are on offer.

Attend trade exhibits or do some research on the internet to obtain an understanding of the many items that are now available on the market. Find out whether library management systems largely fulfill your objectives, comply with the technological limits you have, and don’t go over your spending limit. It’s possible that you don’t have any money set aside in your budget just yet since you need to figure out the prices first. If this is the case, you should ask the suppliers for a preliminary pricing or a ballpark figure, and you should also make sure you understand what is included in that price. It is imperative that you have a clear understanding of the one-time expenditures involved, which may include items such as installation, data conversion, and training. Consulting services may also fall into this category. Whenever you subscribe to Software as a Service (SaaS), the continuous expenses of your software licenses, hosting, upgrades, and support and maintenance are often included in the package.


Obtain your boss's approval of the plan in concept.

When you have a general estimate of how much the project will cost, discuss the possibility of including it in your subsequent budget request with your line manager and try to secure his or her approval in principle. At this point, you are prepared to examine the items in further depth.

Create a check list of the capabilities.

Make an effort to avoid being fooled by tricks and instead focus on providing your consumers with the functionality they require.

Compile a list of characteristics while keeping your aims in mind, and next to each feature, note if it is necessary, extremely desired, or perfect. Again, make an effort to avoid being fooled by tricks and instead focus on what is essential for the operation of your organization. Your finished checklist, along with your technical requirements and a summary of your project, should be forwarded to 4-6 potential vendors. Give them a certain amount of time before which you would want to hear back from them.


Create a shortlist of no more than two or three library systems.

The goods that you have narrowed your search down to should satisfy both the functional criteria and the technological limits.

A whittled-down list of items that you wish to examine in further depth may be prepared with the assistance of your checklist. It is possible that you will not discover the ideal system, which is why compiling a list of qualities that are important, extremely desired, and ideal might be helpful. Only goods that fulfill all of your necessary needs as well as the majority of your highly desirable requirements should make it into your shortlist. You should strive to narrow your options down to two or three goods.


How do you plan to arrive at a conclusion?

How do you plan to arrive at a conclusion on this matter?
Consider the following when selecting a library system for your organization:

  • “Usability,” often known as simplicity of navigation
  • The history of the vendor’s support
  • The percentage of a vendor’s existing customers who continue to do business with them.
  • Are they based in a nation that is acceptable?
  • Are they willing to make enhancements to the product?
  • Simplicity and ease of upkeep
  • The use of overheads in training
  • Pay the operating expenses.
  • Price
  • It serves no purpose whatsoever to have a system that does everything on your to-do list but is difficult for users and admins to work with.

The first criterion on this list is one that is frequently disregarded despite its significance. It serves no purpose whatsoever to have a system that does everything on your to-do list but is difficult for users and admins to work with. Make certain that the usability of the product is treated seriously by the seller and that you can navigate the different displays with the least amount of clicks and keystrokes feasible. It should not be necessary to consult a manual in order to comprehend the system’s screens since they should be straightforward, free of clutter, and easy to use.

When determining the price or expenses, it is imperative that one takes into account not just the upfront expenditures but also the continuing costs, which can be either overt or covert. It will be expensive to teach someone if it takes two weeks and they have to travel over a large distance to be there in order to do it. Look for staff training that can be done either on-site or remotely and can be adapted to meet the specific needs of your employees. Or perhaps you will come upon a system that is not only user-friendly but also has a searchable help center that is accessible around the clock, meaning that you won’t even have to pay for training.

In today’s world, having software delivered as a service typically implies that any necessary upgrades will be made overnight and at no additional expense to the customer.

Look for options for assistance and maintenance that won’t rack up expensive bills in the years to come. Verify that the normal membership will also provide access to any updates. Check to see that they do not come at an additional expense and that they do not need to be setup by a costly specialist.


Inviting the companies who made the items that made the cut to deliver a presentation to a group of decision makers that included IT is a good idea. Ensure that there is a well-defined schedule for the meeting, and set aside around half a day for each product, so that you may evaluate how each potential seller satisfies your requirements. On the agenda may be items such as:

  • Informational background about the provider, including their previous support history
  • Technical discussion (early in the agenda, so they can leave if necessary)
  • Demonstration of a product from the point of view of a user
  • Demonstration of the product given from the point of view of an administrator
  • The question and answer session
  • Clarify expenses

Ask fro trial

You should ask yourself why a seller isn’t confident enough in its program to allow you test it before you purchase it if they don’t let you try it before you buy it.

Would you purchase a car without first putting some miles on the odometer? Surprisingly many people will purchase a library system without first putting it through its paces themselves. You are about to make a choice that is going to have an effect on the way in which all of your employees perform their jobs as well as the way in which your customers see the service you provide. Do not trust your decision on appearance alone. Request a free trial of one or two of the systems that are on your shortlist so that you can test their usability, adaptability, and ensure that bulk processes can be completed quickly and effectively. This does need more effort on your part because you need to give your employees the opportunity to test out most of the areas and report back to you, but it can save you from making an expensive error.

Check the contract before you sign

One last time, go over the document before you sign it. Be sure that you have a complete understanding of the terms and conditions, including the minimum time, how the renewal process works, and what notice you are required to submit in order to terminate the contract. It never ceases to amaze me how many individuals sign up for three-year contracts with just a year’s notice simply because they failed to read the fine print. If you feel you need it, seek the assistance of a lawyer.

Good luck!