Library software - Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to common questions about our software and running a library system

This article provides answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about starting a library, using library software, switching to SLLS, and what’s involved in getting everything up and running. Whether you’re a new librarian looking to get a collection organised for the first time, or a more seasoned librarian looking to move to a new library system, this FAQ should provide a few helpful tips and reassurances.

Of course, you are always welcome to contact us with any questions you might have. Remember, Simple Little Library System has been designed to be easy to use, even for non-librarians.

A library in chaos that's in need of a library management system

Yes – most of the time. Crucially, you’ll need some way of exporting the catalogue data to a CSV, XML, Excel spreadsheet or similar. Even if the data is somewhat incomplete or disordered, we can usually work something out. Of course, the more data is available and the more logical it is, the better. If the ISBN is there, we can use that to obtain other information about the book.

Absolutely, as long as you are able to supply the data in a CSV, spreadsheet or similar file. At a minimum, we only need first and last names, although email addresses are advantageous, as they allow users to reset their own passwords and receive borrowing alerts. We’re also able to import other information including class and year (for schools), job title, gender and more – but it’s all optional.

It’s vitally important that libraries are able to keep track of their inventory. Because libraries expect their stock to be returned to them at some point, they need a way of identifying specific items. Then, the librarian will know what’s out on loan and to whom, what’s due to be returned, and what’s available on the shelves at any given time. If a book lands on the check-in desk, the barcode will match it to a particular copy in their catalogue and allow the item to be loaned again to another borrower. It will also make sure that the existing borrower no longer has that item marked as being on loan to them.

Library cards simply make it easier and quicker for particular borrowers to identify themselves. It also makes running a self-loaning service much easier. Borrowers can scan their library card to identify themselves, scan the barcode on the item they want to borrow, and they’re away. People might have similar (or even the same) names, but their library card will have a number on it that’s unique.

Simply put, a classmark is a way of classifying a book according to its subject matter. This takes the form of a classification system, such as the Dewey Decimal Classification system. The code that you assign a particular book, based on its subject matter, is a classmark.

A shelfmark additionally provides information as to where a book belongs on the shelves in a library. It could contain codes for the relevant section of the library, and the first letters of the author’s name if the books are organised alphabetically in such a fashion.

In our Simple Little Library System, the same field is used for classmarks and shelfmarks. It’s left to the librarian to decide which they’d prefer to use, and build their own system.

With our online library software, your users can be encouraged to explore what books you have available in your catalogue. They can search the catalogue via smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers from home, school or their workplace. The cataloguing tools within our software will make your catalogue pleasing to the eye, with book images and bibliographic data being automatically downloaded. This makes searching a pleasant and easy experience.

Make sure the library is a welcoming experience for the users, with comfy chairs and a colourful and clean environment.

This is a question that we get asked a lot. The answer is yes, if you don’t often have a librarian manning the library. This will allow your users to  borrow items regardless. However, there is obviously an element of trust required with your users when using the self-loaning set up.

Some libraries have a library monitor on hand to oversee the user self-loaning process. 

Yes – barcode scanners will save you a huge amount of time and effort. Most books have a barcode containing the ISBN on the back cover, and this is a very useful thing to have in your catalogue, as you can use it to obtain further information about that book from resources on the internet. (Our software will do this for you.) When running the library, you can use a scanner to quickly scan barcodes on both books and library cards to identify a specific copy or borrower. It’s much faster than manually typing in the information.

Almost certainly. Check that your scanner is able to scan a barcode into, for example, Notepad or Word. If that’s the case, you can use it with our system. Most scanners act like a second keyboard, and so as far as the computer is concerned, it’s no different to you typing in a series of numbers or letters – just much faster!

If you already have barcode labels stuck inside your books, you’re more than welcome to use those again in our system. The barcode field in the database can accept any combination of numbers and letters, and you can change the barcode for every item in your catalogue. There’s no need to buy all-new labels.

There aren’t any if you opt for a Bailey Solutions system – you’ll only be charged for your license. The only exception would be if you were to have very specific requirements that required us to, for example, change the software code. But most of the time, our systems are flexible enough for this not to be necessary.

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