Library Automation And Digitization; Are They The Same, Different Or Complementary.?


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In general, automation refers to the process of making a machine do what a human did before. In a library, that usually refers to the process of using reference resources and/or checking books in and out. In short, library records are put in digital form by an automation project.

Databases replace card catalogs and patron files, and database searches may replace reference material lookup. Often, both books and patrons must be given bar codes, and book checkout (or checkin) becomes a matter of scanning the various barcodes involved. This site provides information about library automation planning and maintenance.

Library digitization refers to the process of putting library contents into digital form. Often, this takes the form of creating digital images (scanning) of book pages and other documents. If the material is to be electronically searchable after scanning, image-to-text conversion is also involved. Some documents or books may be quite old and fragile and may not be compatible with the scanning process. Errors can be made in image-to-text conversion.

Digitization and automation can be interlinked (complementary), so that a card catalog reference brings up an image of the book involved, for example.

The introduction of technology always brings with it a host of issues, including (but not limited to) the cost of maintenance and upgrade, obsolescence, backup and disaster recovery, protection of personally-identifiable information. Technology introduction is usually planned on the basis of current use patterns. The availability of the technology often changes those use patterns.

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