There’s lots to think about when managing and organising a school library. If you’ve been tasked with the job it may feel a bit daunting. A great way to manage and organise your books is through a school library management system (LMS).
Whilst this is an investment, it is worth every penny when you consider the benefits:
- Managing and tracking stock
- Easy borrowing and return process
- Self-issue options (with some systems)
- Searchable catalogue so children (and staff) can find books more easily
Not only this, pupil librarians can be shown how to use the system (which they will love!) and support their fellow pupils finding and borrowing books. You’ll also be able to download helpful statistics about borrowing rates and which books are being read most, to help inform your knowledge about reading in your school. You can even print or email reminders to encourage pupils to return books on time.
Do the research
Cost will obviously be an important consideration so it’s essential to do the research and find out what is involved. Things to think about include set-up and installation, additional equipment requirements, technical support and annual costs for running the system. Some systems can work across multi-sites so this could be a way of sharing costs. LMS companies are often happy to give an online demonstration; a great way of finding out more.
Who is going to be overseeing the set-up in your school? They will need to factor in time for switching to the new system – whether you are currently paper-based or have an older computer system in place. If you're already online, your catalogue can be switched from old to new automatically. If your books need adding manually to the catalogue you’ll need to allow time for this too – it’s a good opportunity to overhaul your collection! But the great thing is you can add all items from picture books to reference books to audio books.
You’re LMS system will include a database to manage borrowers and this will need setting-up. The good news is many systems can import data from your school administration database (you can ask the LMS companies about this when you do your research) so it should be easy to set-up pupils and school staff on the system. Don’t forget to check in with your IT team to ensure everything is compatible with your existing computers.
Training will be needed for all staff who will use the system and any pupil librarians too. You’ll want to make sure you get the best from the system and all its benefits. If you are using the self-issue option this will need careful management too. Whichever system you choose, find out what training options there are which can then be disseminated as needed.
Whilst there is a lot to think about, a school library management system can transform the way you organise your library, and more importantly, make books more accessible, encouraging library use and reading in your school. For more advice about library management systems visit the School Library Association website or contact your local Schools Library Services.