The term “automated library” refers to a library where the collection of library materials is primarily on paper but the library procedures have been computerized. Libraries keep a lot of records: Not only is each title unique, but the records required for library operations must necessarily include individual copies of each title for many purposes. A circulation system must know exactly which copy of which volume of which edition of which title was borrowed and when it is due back. Attributing the loan to another borrower is not acceptable, nor is substituting the return of another document, even if returned by the same borrower, acceptable as a discharge of the loan. Acquisition records must be precise.

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Which bookseller ordered copies of a given work, and how many have been received so far? A library that does not know which titles it already has (and in how many copies) cannot function effectively. Serials records include minute details such as issue copies, indexes, binding, and invoices to ensure that each set is complete and properly acquired, bound, and paid for. Then, library records must be specific to individual copies. In general, it is preferable to automate library record-keeping for three reasons:

1. A large portion of the work entails accurately updating records in files. Even though the records may be complex, the tasks involved are generally tedious, repetitive, and mechanical in nature, and lend themselves to computerization.


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