Guest Lecture DU LIS 4050

Library Technologies Past, Present, & Tomorrow

Integrated Library Systems (ILS)

Integrated Library Systems (ILS) started development in the 1970s and 1980s and continues today.

Library Systems are the means and methods of organizing a library otherwise it is just a random collection of stuff. Along with most professions, librarians increasingly depend on their technology to manage and organize their collections for the benefit of their users. These collections are more diverse and require increasingly sophisticated systems.

It was in the late 1970s and early 1980s that electronic catalog started to be developed and offered by larger institutions. These first generation catalogs usually tried to mimic the card catalog already understood by library patrons and were primarily text-based and accessed through dump terminals connected to a central mainframe computer. The bibliographic format behind theses early catalogs is still the dominate bibliographic format and is called Machine-Readable Cataloging or MARC. MARC was the result of the efforts by Henriette Avram of the Library of Congress, among others, to create an electronic cataloging format for record interchange.

Here is David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest in MARC21 format.

The start of the 1990s was a move away from the main-frame to a client-server model for library systems, including the arrival of "Online Public Access Catalog" or (OPAC). Almost immediately, these often primitive OPACS were much more popular among library users than the physical card catalog or first-generation "text-based" catalogs of the 1970s and 1980s. The designs of these early OPACs reflected two different access models, one deeply ground in assumptions and behavior of using the physical card catalog with author, title, and subject access points and the other was in the commercial data services of the time, like DIALOG. DIALOG was an early online information services that included access to a number of full-text journal databases, the service still exists as a product from ProQuest.

The market for library automation platforms is dominated by a few large private corporations, often with multiple product lines that blur the largely marketing categories of library systems, including commercial integrated library systems (ILS), discovery services, and the latest term, library services platforms. The main differences between an ILS and library services platforms have to do more with infrastructure and implementation than necessarily new end-user functionality although most focus on a single-search interface to increasingly larger databases of both local and remote resources owned by the library.

Library Systems Vendors

Every year, Marshall Breeding releases a report on the state of library systems and technology with the 2017 report providing the following details:

Company Major Products/Services Total Installations New 2016 Contracts
Ex Libris (subsidiary of ProQuest) Alma
829 132
Innovative Interfaces Millennium
1,888 98
OCLC WorldShare Management platform 500 83
SirsiDynix Horizon
2,573 173