Library Management System

An integrated library system (ILS), also known as a library management system (LMS), is an enterprise resource planning system for a library, used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed.


An ILS usually comprises a relational database, software to interact with that database, and two graphical user interfaces (one for patrons, one for staff).


Most ILSes separate software functions into discrete programs called modules, each of them integrated with a unified interface. Examples of modules might include:


  • acquisitions (ordering, receiving, and invoicing materials)
  • cataloging (classifying and indexing materials)
  • Pen or wand-type readers: requires the operator to swipe the pen over the code.
  • Semi-automatic handheld readers: The operator need not swipe, but must at least position the reader near the label
  • Fix-mount readers for automatic reading: The reading is performed laterally passing the label over the reader. No operator is required, but the position of the code target must coincide with the imaging capability of the reader.
  • Reader gates for automatic scanning: The position of the code must be just under the gate for short time, enabling the scanner sweep to capture the code target successfully.
  • circulation (lending materials to patrons and receiving them back)
  • serials (tracking magazine and newspaper holdings)
  • the OPAC (public interface for users)


Librarians often referred to ILSes as library automation systems or automated systems in the 1970s and early 1980s. Before the advent of computers, libraries usually used a card catalog to index their holdings. Computers came into use to automate the card catalog, thus the term automation system. Automation of the catalog saves the labor involved in resorting the card catalog, keeping it up-to-date with respect to the collection, etc. Other tasks automated include checking-out and checking-in books, generating statistics and reports, acquisitions and subscriptions, indexing journal articles and linking to them, as well as tracking interlibrary loans. Since the late 1980s, windowing systems and multi-tasking have allowed the integration of business functions. Instead of having to open up separate applications, library staff could now use a single application with multiple functional modules.


As the Internet grew, ILS vendors offered more functionality related to computer networks. As of 2009[update] major ILS systems offer web-based portals where library users can log in to view their account, renew their books, and authenticate themselves for access to online databases.