Name:Marshall Breeding
Organization:Library Technology Guides

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Perspective and commentary by Marshall Breeding

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Automation systems in US Public Libraries

One of the main components of Library Technology Guides is the lib-web-cats directory of libraries. One of the key features of this directory involves the data describing the automation system used by each of the libraries. With this information, I am able to measure the relative proportions of each automation system installed in libraries, and track trends of migration.

Automation Trends in US Public Libraries

Lib-web-cats lists 9,277 public library systems in the United States representing a total of 16,959 facilities. By using data from the National Center for Educational Statistics, at least a skeletal record exists for every library. While the NCES data gives me a comprehensive list as a starting point, it does not include the information that interests me such as the URLs of the libraryís Web site, online catalog, and the current and previous automation systems employed. Iíve enhanced each listing with that information as Iím able to find it. For most libraries, Iím able to collect this information by visiting the Web site. Small rural libraries present the greatest challenge since many of them lack a Web site. While Iím confident about the data for mid-sized and larger public library systems, Iím continually scouring the Web for information on the smaller ones.

I have created a few pages that present some of the trends, including a basic page for browsing through all US Public Libraries, one that shows ILS implementations, that links to reports to each state, such as this one for Tennessee.

Gathering information on the library automation systems used by public libraries in the US has proven to be a never-ending project. I encourage anyone to send me information that might be missing from lib-web-cats. Any one registered on Library Technology Guides can add or modify entries. To ensure consistency and any possible malicious changes, I monitor and review all changes.

One of the basic tenents of Library Technology Guides and my personal approach to the industry involves putting as much information in public view as possible. I see great benefit in creating a comprehensive resource describing the technology deployed throughout the country. Such a resource describes the current state of technology, provides historical trends, and helps inform decisions as libraries move forward.

Marshall Breeding Nov 22, 2007 13:01:27 Link to this thread Digg it!  Share on Facebook  post to

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