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Systems Librarian

Minimum Standards and Features

Minimum Standards and Features for the Purchase of
an Integrated Library System (ILS)

Minimum specifications for the purchase of an Integrated Library System (ILS)



Training and documentation:

  • should include sufficient staff training to operate all modules of the integrated library system (ILS) proficiently 
  • should include computer-based training and on-site training 
  • should include complete training manuals/documentation on all system software modules 
  • should include documentation updates for all appropriate manuals 
  • should be provided on a regular basis as additional capabilities, enhancements or improvements are made to the integrated library system (ILS) 
  • the Product should have complete context-sensitive online help documentation across all subsystems 
  • online help should be searchable 
  • updates to online help should be immediate. 


  • the integrated library system (ILS) should provide security at database, workstation, and individual operator levels 
  • the integrated library system (ILS) should provide secure access control based upon unique user login, for types of record (e.g., acquisitions and cataloguing) as well as by function performed upon the record (e.g., edit/modify, delete) 
  • the integrated library system (ILS) should check each user’s access privileges at login, and automatically disable or enable client functions (in real time) based upon the user’s profile. 

Integrated Library System (ILS) Implementation / Data Migration:

Vendor should migrate the library’s present databases to the proposed system so that the new integrated library system (ILS) should be fully operational in a short space of time. Migration should include, to the extent such files are in present use by the current public library's integrated library system (ILS):

  • bibliographic records (titles) 
  • items / copies 
  • authority records 
  • acquisitions (vendor, orders, funds, etc.) 
  • serials (control, chronology, etc.) 
  • community information records (OPAC) 

Vendor should agree that the details of the final implementation plan should be mutually determined by the library and the Vendor. Vendor should indicate any limitations or qualifications to the format in which records should be received by Vendor in order to be migrated. Vendor should include a process by which the databases may be brought up to date during the interval between export of the initial databases and completion of integrated library system (ILS) installation and training.



  • the integrated library system (ILS) should demonstrate compliance with Z39.50 
  • vendor should provide a software maintenance program to include all future software updates and system enhancements applicable to integrated library system (ILS) modules licensed 
  • emergency assistance should be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no additional cost to the library 

Major system upgrades should be developed and released annually so the library will receive the latest enhancements, regardless of the version of Vendor’s integrated library system (ILS) that the library originally installed. Software enhancements should be made available without further charge to all licensed libraries maintaining an annually renewable software support contract with Vendor.



  • Should be able to process input from multiple workstations, applying appropriate record locking to insure integrity 
  • Should also be able to separate each library’s data and allow separate library policies to function within the system, but allow data from all libraries to merge for a seamless integrated library system (ILS) for the user 
  • if a change is made to the database, the product should automatically update all affected records in real time 
  • the product should use an open relational database 
  • the product should be able to export any record or portion of a record to ASII format. 

The product should consist of integrated functions with a single point of entry. Users and staff should be able to switch between the client and another application using standard operating system procedures.


Minimum Specifications


Subsystem Specifications


Bibliographic Control:

The integrated library system (ILS) should offer a full text database that allows records for any type of material in any format to be created, migrated, searched and displayed, modified, exported, and deleted. Changes resulting from e.g., SAMARC to MARC21 format integration should be accommodated. 

The Bibliographic Control/Cataloguing module should allow the library to create and maintain full catalogue records searchable only by library staff. The Bibliographic Control/Cataloguing module should provide cataloguing wizards that streamline the process of:

  • adding a brief title record 
  • editing existing titles 
  • duplicating an existing title 
  • removing title, call number/volume or copies 
  • creating and editing call number/volume records 
  • adding or editing copies (includes global edits) 
  • offering authority control options (display, add, duplicate, edit, remove) 
  • bound-with processing 
  • transferring title, call number or copies 
  • linking order line holdings to titles 
  • capturing and editing records from Z39.50 sources using a Z39.50 copy cataloguing client (Sabinet) 

When duplicating a title, authorized staff should be able to pre-set values within the cataloguing module, including but not limited to:

  • record format (e.g., MARC21) 
  • the automatic addition of selected catalogue fields on entry 
  • hiding the record display from the Web OPAC (from public user searches) 
  • the automatic addition of selected item type (to prevent repetitive data entry) 
  • auto-generate temporary call numbers 
  • whether to add a copy automatically when adding a call number/volume record 
  • whether to auto-generate an item ID when adding a copy/item 
  • ability to validate authority headings (if authority control is used by library) 
  • printing spine labels 

When removing a title, call number, and/or item record, the Bibliographic Control/Cataloguing module should alert staff if a bill or hold is associated with the material. Staff should be able to immediately investigate the open transaction, without closing the removal process.

When using the Bound-with process to link bibliographic descriptions for items bound together, the Bibliographic Control/Cataloguing module should use parent and child call number records. A child call number with copies should not be bound with a parent call number. A child call number should be linked to only one parent, but staff should be able to link a parent call number to an unlimited number of child call numbers.


In the transferring title, call number/volume, and/or copies process, authorized staff should be able to:

  • transfer all copies to an existing call number 
  • transfer only selected copies 
  • transfer all volumes 
  • transfer only selected volumes 
  • remove a title automatically after staff has made the decision to transfer the last copy or volume to a new title 
  • search and display bibliographic information without exiting the transfer process 

Items on reserve or in transit should not be transferred. Inactive, available title-level holds linked to a call number should also block the transfer. The Bibliographic Control/Cataloguing module should alert staff to such exception conditions when staff attempt to transfer records.


The Bibliographic Control/Cataloguing module should support MARC format error checking, including:

  • error checking (tags, indicators, and subfields) for all formats 
  • an error message displays when incorrect values are entered 
  • prompts for correct data 
  • automatically verifies and validates structure of each type of record maintained by the proposed system 
Performing the following error checks: 
  • entry of valid tags 
  • proper format as defined for each field (e.g., field length, character type, and numeric range checks 
  • valid entries in controlled fields (from authority lists or files) 
  • presence of mandatory data elements 
  • supplies default data element identifiers (tags, indicators, subfield codes, etc.). 

Whenever applicable, the library may specify tags for each template as well as default codes. The Bibliographic Control/Cataloguing module should not require a specific interface to any MARC21-based cataloguing source. It should include a utility for verifying uniform resource locator(s), or URL's. It should support creation, editing and maintenance of Community Information records in the MARC Format for Community Information and in a locally developed format.

Selective control of staff members’ access to the call number, item and holding record should be available, e.g., an operator may not edit items that belong to another library.


Z39.50 MARC Cataloguing Client:

Bibliographic Control/Cataloguing module should include a Z39.50 copy cataloguing client  that can capture bibliographic records from any Z39.50 bibliographic resource(e.g., Sabinet). The Z39.50 copy cataloguing client should capture MARC records from OCLC directly into the library’s catalogue. 

Authority Control:

The Authority Control module should link all authority-controlled bibliographic headings with corresponding authority records through an standard thesaurus.

The Authority Control module should enable the system administrator to specify whether entry of bibliographic data which does not match an authority record should result in rejection of the input, or in a warning, in which case the system should:

  • display a browse list of possible authority headings from which the operator may choose by clicking the desired heading to replace the unauthorized heading in the bibliographic record 
  • automatically flag the unauthorized entry for later display, review, and/or printing 

The Authority Control module should support multiple authority files, including separate authority indexes for LC name and subject headings, subjects, or other locally-defined indexes. This module should enable the library to define an unlimited number of authority formats or types, and to specify the bibliographic fields and subfields addressed by each authority record type through policy configuration. It should automatically generate appropriate See and See Also references from authority records for use in the online catalogue.

At the library’s discretion, the Authority Control module should be configured either to display cross-references but not to verify headings, or to display cross-references and also to verify headings. An extra feature usually, the integrated library system (ILS) could include jacket art with the cataloguing record for display in the OPAC (this should have a link verifier for dead Internet links).


Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC):

  • the integrated library system (ILS) should allow access to the OPAC through all major browsers 
  • the integrated library system (ILS) should provide a secured interface between the OPAC and patron files that will allow patrons to access personal circulation information 
  • the OPAC module should streamline various interfaces with a single information management platform to access everything users need in a unified online environment 
  • users should have access through the OPAC to all material types including, but not limited to: monographs, serials, machine-readable data files, maps, audio-visual formats, sound recordings, computer software, documents, Web sites, equipment, electronic or digital content, etc. 
  • the OPAC should provide keyword, phrase, and Boolean searches 
  • the library should be able to create custom web pages and/or modify existing OPAC and OPAC help web pages. 

The integrated library system (ILS) should be able to support visually impaired users (enlarged font) . The integrated library system (ILS) should have an icon-based OPAC for children with sets of photo icons. The OPAC should track an individual user's preferences and interests, organized into a list of "favourites" including, but not limited to authors and subjects. These "favourites" should be included in a user's personal online account.  The integrated library system (ILS) should provide user self-service options, or User Services, through the OPAC, including the ability for users to review the status of their accounts and to view custom displays of:

  • bills 
  • items charged, with due dates and accrued fines 
  • holds requested, with availability status 
  • replies to their requests or cancel request 
  • notes/alerts from library staff 

OPAC user self-services should also include, at the library’s discretion:

  • renewing eligible items 
  • placing holds on items 
  • editing/cancelling My Favourite selections 
  • editing address and/or contact email information 

OPAC should support Web-based materials bookings/ item reservations. The OPAC module should automatically analyze the library’s overall circulation and display lists of the library’s most popular titles, authors, or subjects. It should also update this information automatically.


Content management:

  • vendor should offer a content management solution for collecting and organizing content from many different sources into easy-to-understand and easy-to-use content centres, for its public users 
  • the content management solution proposed should not be limited to the library's catalogue or to resources held by the library, (though the library's catalogue is one of the resources that should be accessible) 
  • no programming or other technical expertise should be required by library staff to operate Vendor’s content management solution 
  • in addition to the standard OPAC, Vendor should offer OPAC content enrichment features that will provide users with images and information similar to online book vendors’ sites, such as 

OPAC content enrichment should include the following categories:

  • book jacket / cover art images 
  • reviews 
  • author biographies 
  • table of contents 
  • excerpts or chapters 
  • summaries 
  • lists of best sellers  

OPAC content enhancement / enrichment updates should be provided through the Vendor. Bestsellers lists should be updated on a regular schedule. Vendor should offer alternative languages for its OPAC. It should offer faceted finding aids to narrow search results by categories.

OPAC should ensure relevant search results even with simple misspellings or variations in suffixes or prefixes. OPAC should also support use of Back button on Web browsers as part of search process and builds saved searches that can be saved as browser favourites.


Patron Records:

  • the integrated library system (ILS) should support a variety of ways to search for a patron record 
  • it should accommodate expiration dates for patron’s library privileges 
  • the integrated library system (ILS) should have the ability to designate a category or group for patrons, i. e. Staff, Visually Challenged, Non-Residents, etc. It should provide the ability to easily assign and change a user’s Patron Type 
  • it should automatically block and should lift immediately upon remediation of the blocking condition 
  • the integrated library system (ILS) system should easily provide online display and printing of a sequentially numbered list of items a patron has checked out, placed on hold, overdue, claims returned/lost/stolen, and billed and a list of previously checked out items 
  • it should duplicate a patron or newly-created patron records using patron copy for easy duplication of multiple fields within the patron record, including User Name, ID Number, Street, User Group ID, Corporate Name, Phone Number, Email Address, Alternate ID, References, etc. 


The Circulation module should support the following features:

  • full-text search of any word within any bibliographic field 
  • circulation functions at a workstation in real time 
  • offer an interface with PC Reservation 
  • provide a graphical backup circulation client 
  • enable operator to circulate un-catalogued items on-the-fly (e.g., add a brief title, add copies). Brief bibliographic records, as well as charging and lending items for interlibrary loans. This should have an expiry date ot item is never catalogued properly 
  • checkout 
  • check-in 
  • renew all items or renew a single item 
  • bill a user 
  • pay a bill 
  • display, create, edit, copy, and remove user record 
  • confirm user address 
  • renew user privilege 
  • send user a message (note area) 
  • place, edit, display, remove holds 
  • claims returned 
  • lost card processing 
  • modify an item’s assigned due date 
  • mark item used and inventory item 
  • book drop check-in 
  • place and track items in transit (for multi-branch and multi-library systems) 
  • circulate items borrowed through  ILL once a brief bibliographic record has been created, with local circulation loan parameters determined by the user profile, item type, and location 
  • when an item presented for checkout presents an alert of ‘still charged to previous user,’ the Circulation Module should allow staff to enter an override password to immediately discharge the item and should allow staff to immediately check-out the material to the present patron. 

The Circulation module should serve as a link between the item and user at discharge; however, it should be possible for authorized staff to determine the last user to have charged the item until the item is discharged by the next user, to allow investigation of any damage to items.
The Circulation module should interface seamlessly with other modules, including Cataloguing, to enable authorized circulation staff to:

  • add a brief title (with a finite life) 
  • add copies 
  • change item barcode 
  • mark item missing or lost 
  • remove title, call number/volume or copies 

The Circulation module should enable individual user record creation, as well as a patron load utility that allows user records to be imported and updated. The integrated library system (ILS) should support automatic charging for the overdue return of items, for the replacement cost of unreturned items, for various sorts of “processing fees,” according to library-defined parameters, set by each library. It should allow staff to create charges.
The integrated library system (ILS) should alert the librarian of an unpaid fine and create a block which can be an overridden by supervisor password, if necessary.  When a user has lost or misplaced his/her library card, the circulation module should automatically deactivate the previous library card number and should transfer the user’s charges, fines, overdue, holds and bills to the new ID. It should automatically change long-overdue items’ status from “overdue” to “billed” based on library-specified rules.


  • the integrated library system (ILS) should allow the library to define the precise terms under which items can be circulated to users 
  • circulation policies should be flexible, specific to the library or to each individual library within a multi-library consortium 
  • the circulation module should record all issues made for statistical reports. 


  • the Circulation module should allow staff to accept payment for fees/bills during item check-in (e.g., accept payment for overdue fees) without leaving the discharging process 
  • the Circulation module should alert staff and immediately place an item in transit to its home location, if the item is checked in at a location other than its home location.  

Routing/Transit (For multi-Library systems):
The Circulation module should automatically track an item’s current and home locations (e.g., Checked out, ILL , Reference, Bookmobile) and should display these locations for staff and public user searches. The Circulation module should permit staff to view items presently in transit (in a multi-library system) at any time.


  • the Circulation module should allow both the renewal of a single item and the renewal of all items charged to a user. Staff and user self-renewal (for selected item(s), and via the web OPAC), should be available 
  • the Circulation module should alert staff attempting to renew items for suspended, blocked, and barred public users. Staff should have the option to investigate or enter an override password to continue with item renewal 
  • during renewal, staff should have the option to select a special due date, or to allow the Circulation module to automatically renew according to local library circulation loan policies. 

Fines / Bills:

  • the Circulation module should support an unlimited number of fine structures, such as daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Each fine structure amount may accrue in different rates (e.g., two Rand per week or part thereof or five Rand per day per item, etc.) 
  • circulation staff should be capable of displaying all bills within a user record, as well as limiting the display to only unpaid bills 
  • the Circulation module should also enable the display of ‘paid’ bills 
  • the Circulation module should support both automatic, system-generated bills as well as manual, staff-initiated fines 
  • the Circulation module should support an unlimited number of manual fine reasons, including damaged, lost card, ILL fee, photocopies, etc. 
  • the Circulation module should support the calculation of fines and make this information available to staff and public users (via the user’s online OPAC account) prior to check-in of items and the creation of a bill 
  • the system should have an alert feature when fees or fines are outstanding. 


The Circulation module should check the user database and block users who are suspended, barred, inactive, not permitted to place holds, etc. The Circulation module should examine library-level, group level, and system-wide levels of holds policies. The integrated library system (ILS) should enable a library to allow only its own patrons to place holds on items. In addition, the integrated library system (ILS) should enable a library to assign a higher priority ranking to its users’ hold requests (i.e., allow a library to state, ‘Fill requests for my library patrons first, then other branch libraries’ users’)


The Circulation module should allow holds to be placed:

  • by staff (public users within the library) 
  • by remote users via the web OPAC 
  • at the title or copy level. 

For multi-library systems:

  • hold fulfilment policies should consider (a) the user’s hold rank and (b) the  owning library's item policies when determining the next eligible user in the hold queue 
  • circulation module holds requests for any book/item by a particular author or for several items on a specific subject. 

Offline Circulation:

Circulation module should have a stand-alone, graphical offline circulation feature. The stand-alone offline circulation module should allow circulation to continue in the event the integrated library system (ILS) cannot be used due to system failure, communications failure, network downtime, etc.


The offline circulation feature should provide:

  • support for item charge and discharge 
  • renewals 
  • new user registration. 

Reports and Report Writing:

The integrated library system (ILS) should support pre-programming and scheduling of standard reports. A variety of output options should be available for reports including, but not limited to viewable online, send to printer, e-mail, or export to a spreadsheet.

The Reports module should be fully-integrated with all other system modules, and provide a comprehensive suite of library-customizable report templates. It should enable an authorized operator to schedule production of report output at a specified date and time and on a regular periodic basis, such as daily, weekly, monthly, and at pre-specified times.

The Reports module should enable an authorized operator to view completed reports on screen or to e-mail or print the report, at the operator's convenience.

  • the system should have the ability to produce overdue reports 
  • reports involving materials such as new accessions lists, shelf lists, circulation lists, and bibliographies 
  • possibile to select items for inclusion based on any combination of bibliographic information (using full Boolean word and phrase searching) and on any combination of control information, for example collection, current status, number of circulations, number of holds, classification, accessions date, etc. 
  • the reports module should enable an authorized operator to specify the starting date-and-time and ending date-and-time for reports involving historical data 
  • the fully-integrated Reports module should use the same user interface as other modules. 

The Reports module should also:

  • provide lists, counts, and statistical reports for each purchased module 
  • provide row, column, and grand totals in applicable reports 
  • provide reports for all record types within the proposed system 
  • track statistical and management information by counting various staff processes to measure productivity, identifying items which are likely candidates for weeding, or tracking fund information for budgeting 
  • perform housekeeping tasks by changing the status of groups of users, or removing users or items in batches when necessary 
  • allow authorized operator(s) to select, customize, name, save and schedule reports 
  • allow staff to display and/or e-mail finished reports 
  • employ an easy, point-and-click interface with drop down menus for report criteria selection 

The integrated library system (ILS) should allow librarians to create custom reports by extracting data for use in spreadsheets. Library staff should be able to define and format specific reports without having to write explicit SQL commands.


The Circulation module should support marking items used (in-house) for statistical reporting. If an item has a special status (charged, on hold. in transit), a glossary should appear next to the item for displaying more item information.

It should support the creation of a shelf list from inventory data in report output. The Circulation module should support the use of portable inventory scanners, provided the Vendor’s software is loaded to the library’s portable PDA's with barcode scanners.



  • the integrated library system (ILS) should offer portable barcode reader option with barcode scanner 
  • the integrated library system (ILS) should update in real time 
  • the integrated library system (ILS) should allow the user to choose where to start and finish each day’s session 
  • the integrated library system (ILS) should include a notation in the item record containing the date the item was inventoried 
  • the integrated library system (ILS) should allow a report to be created listing items missing in the inventory.  

The equipment should demonstrate consistency and ease of use, including documentation or manual for use.



A public library and information services integrated library system (ILS) should be:

  • Stable, even under extreme load.  
  • Robust, and capable of handling a high volume of transactions and simultaneous users.  
  • Flexible, to accommodate the varied needs of a large consortia.  
  • Secure, to protect our patrons/users privacy and data.  
  • User-friendly, to facilitate patron and staff use of the system.  
  • Integrated, to manage all technical and public services within the library.  
  • Comprehensive,  integrated environment to optimize library operations, maximise staff productivity and more effectively serve users. 

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