Computers in Libraries


Computer Files in Libraries

Libraries keep 2 main types of files:

  • Book / Inventory Details
  • Borrower Details

Book Details

The information stored includes:

  • Book title
  • Author
  • Publications Date
  • No of copies stocked
  • No of copied available

Borrower Details

  • Name and personal details
  • Names of books currently borrowing
  • Borrowing history
  • Fines owed

This data originally was stored in paper files(hence the name) and on cards, but have been gradually replaced by computerised databases. The use of relational databases for storing data gives the following advantages over paper based storage:

  • Less risk of data being stolen / damaged
  • Faster data input and retrieval
  • Automatic processing of data (e.g. automatic emailing to borrowers to inform them if books are overdue.
  • Borrowing data can be sold to third parties.

Direct Data Entry (Automated Input)

Libraries have improved massively in their data input, largely due to advances in the use of direct data entry devices, especially through the use of Bar-code and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.

Barcode Direct Data Entry

Bar-code scanners were invented in the 1970s to increase the speed and accuracy of data input. Bar-codes work by passing the printed bar-code under a bar-code scanner, which allows the code to be read in to the machine.


  • High accuracy input
  • High speed input


  • Can’t stop theft of books.


RFID Direct data entry

  • RFID tags and scanners allow books to be scanned rapidly by librarians when issuing the books and processing returns from users.
  • RFID tabs also allow effective theft protection, as libraries are fitted with alarms that are triggered a user walks through the sensor posts with a book that has been fitted with an RFID tags.
  • RFID tags are also used in some libraries to perform automatic book issue and return, reducing the ┬ásalary costs to libraries.


  • Can be used to deter theft
  • Can be used for fully automatic processing


Automatic Processing


Using computer based filing systems allows libraries to perform a variety of automatic processing tasks.

These tasks include:

  • Automatic emailing / SMS messaging borrowers to remind them of due/overdue books.
  • Online book availability and reservation system.
  • Automatic fine issuing