The Librarian's Guide to Single Sign-On: how it can improve your library's services

Integrated Library Management system feature: Single Sign-on

Single sign-on (SSO) is a useful tool for both library users and staff alike. By streamlining the user access process and eliminating the need to remember multiple passwords, SSO can provide an easier and more secure way to access library software and library resources. This blog post will explore the benefits of implementing SSO for library users and library staff, from increased security to improved management information.

What is single sign-on?

Single sign-on (SSO) technology allows users to log in to many different applications and library resources, with only one set of login credentials. SSO allows users to log in using a single username and password combination, simplifying the user experience and streamlining library operations. One-click and you’re in!

How does single sign-on benefit library users?

With single sign-on (SSO) users will no longer have to keep track of multiple usernames and passwords. With SSO, users can log into the library management software, their online accounts, and other library services with one single username and password.
The convenience of this type of authentication streamlines the user experience and makes it easier for library users to access the resources they need quickly. Instead of having to remember multiple sets of credentials, library users can quickly access their accounts with one simple login. This reduces confusion and frustration for users who are already overwhelmed by the range of services offered by the library.
When users are logged into library management software they can access resources relevant to their department or interests via their home page. In addition, users have instant access to My Account, and its features like my current and past loans, my reservations, my saved searches, my reviews, etc.
In addition, SSO provides increased security to library users. By using one central login, all of the user’s personal information is kept secure, since only one set of credentials needs to be used. This helps to protect the user’s privacy and ensures that their data remains safe and secure.
Overall, single sign-on provides an enhanced user experience for library users, making it simpler and more secure for them to access library services. It reduces confusion, increases security, and provides a streamlined way for library users to access the catalogue and their accounts.


How does single sign-on benefit library staff?

Library staff can experience several benefits from utilising single sign-on from a centralised user registry like Microsoft Azure Active Directory. By implementing SSO and user synchronisation, library staff do not need to create or manage user accounts in the library software or other applications and library resources. By eliminating the need for multiple usernames and passwords for each user, library staff can spend less time resetting passwords and dealing with account lockouts. This makes it much easier for them to maintain accurate records and focus on providing better customer service.
Single sign-on offers a secure way to ensure that only authorised users have access to the library’s resources, reducing the risk of data breaches and helping to ensure compliance with subscription agreements.

How does single sign-on contribute to better management information?

Using single sign-on, library staff will be able to see how their resources are being used at any given time, allowing them to make more informed decisions. By automatically logging in users with SSO, library staff can generate more detailed reports using key user information, such as their location, type, and department. Using this data, segmented reports can be generated on user behaviour and preferences. If users are not logged in, only general information can be reported, like how many searches. Informing future decisions about how best to serve the library’s users based on this data can be helpful. The library staff can also easily see which resources are most frequently used and which may require more attention because all user activity is tracked in one place. With single sign-on technology, libraries can easily collect and analyse this data, resulting in more accurate and comprehensive reports.


How secure is single sign-on?

Single sign-on is secure because users only need to remember a single unique password, instead of different passwords for each application. When users only have to remember one password, the risk of password fatigue drops significantly, and with it the rate of time-consuming password resets. What’s more, since they only need to log on to one secure platform, once per day, you eliminate the chance of users repeating passwords or using weak passwords across multiple insecure applications.
Secondly, the SSO authentication system is encrypted and protected with security protocols such as HTTPS. The security of single sign-on can be further enhanced through the use of strong authentication methods such as two-factor authentication, as well as providing proper levels of access control and access logging.


How to implement single sign-on in your library

Implementing SSO can be relatively simple, but it’s important to know what steps are involved in setting it up.
First of all, you need to find out if SSO is already available in your organisation. If it is, you will need to liaise with your IT people or SSO provider to set up SSO for your library management software and your online library resources. You also need to select a library management software with SSO capability. Most library system vendors will charge a one-off fee to set up the connection to the SSO identity platform but after that, it runs smoothly and needs very little maintenance. Your IT people and the SSO provider will exchange metadata and set up the SSO function. All you need to do is test it.
If you wish to synchronise data with the authorised identity platform, then you will want to specify what data comes across and what is updated. Synchronising is recommended because this service will save you time creating and updating user accounts and credentials.
In addition, for library management system access, you may wish to consider whether you only offer SSO access or whether you offer combined SSO access together with the traditional username and password access. You may need to offer both methods of access if not all users have access to the organisation’s single sign-on platform. This may be the case where you have registered users and guest / externally based users using your system.
If single sign-on is not already available in your organisation, you will need either ask your IT to source and implement an identity platform for your whole organisation or source a specialist library identity platform. Examples of organisation-wide identity platforms include Okta, Microsoft Azure Active Directory, AuthO, and OneLogin. Specialist library and education providers include Wonde, JISC, and Open Athens.


What does Bailey Solutions offer regarding single sign-on?

Bailey Solutions offers single sign-on (SSO) capability using various standard methods in both its library management software systems: KnowAll Matrix and Simple Little Library System. We charge a small set-up fee and then support, at no extra charge, is included in your Software-as-a-Service subscription. This SSO capability provides library users and library staff with seamless access to your library system. Contact us if you would like to learn more.
You will need an organisation-wide or library specialist identity provider to achieve seamless logins to other applications and online library resources used in your organisation / library.



Single sign-on (SSO) provides a valuable solution for libraries looking to increase user access and security. It simplifies the login process for library users, helping to make services more accessible while providing library staff with better control over user access. Additionally, single sign-on, with user synchronisation, can reduce library staff time spent on managing user data. Furthermore, single sign-on enables better management information so library staff can keep informed about user behaviour and usage patterns. SSO may already be implemented in your organisation, or you may sign up to a library-specific provider. Using Bailey Solutions’ library software, users can seamlessly log in to your library system, access My Account features, and enjoy a more personalised experience.