Optimising your Integrated Library System (ILS)

Your Integrated Library System (ILS) is an important tool for your school library’s current and future development. This guide details how to make the most of your ILS.


Teaching and learning
Library management
Library advocacy
ISystem management
Helpdesk support and training
Future developments

Teaching and Learning

1. For those who have an ILS with a homepage, library staff can create a WebOPAC homepage which can provide links to:

  • useful databases, e-resources and e-books
  • book lists, competitions, library news, word documents
  • other tools providing a school library web presence, such as a wiki or blog
  • instructional videos – if YouTube clips are possible, such as the Google searching tips video, or the Dewey Rap video.

2. Find out how to incorporate your ILS into your school’s Learning Management System (LMS) through the library presence on your school website.

3. Enable clients to locate information through the WebOPAC – allowing access to your catalogue from any web browser in the school.

  • Ensure that you continually update to the latest version of your ILS
  • Ask your system helpdesk for further details on setting up the Web OPAC option
  • Incorporate multimedia content into your catalogue including live website links and videos

4. Maximise OPAC usage by arranging with senior management and HODs for time to train staff and students in successful reading of catalogue search results. OPAC training for students and staff might include (depending on which ILS your school uses):

  • Using selection buttons (title, author, subject search) on the front search page instead of just using the keyword default. This will reduce the number of hits to the most relevant.
  • If you have established a junior visual search catalogue, explaining what the different graphics represent. For example clicking on an animal image will bring up a list of resources on animals.
  • Pointing out the very simplest things to be seen on the initial results page. For instance green tick means book in, red cross means book out on loan
  • If you are using a WebOPAC screen, clicking on the author for a list of other books he or she has written
  • Clicking on the title to show the full record
  • On a WebOPAC screen from the full record, clicking on subject to find other books available on the same subject in either fiction or non-fiction. For instance diary stories
  • Scrolling down to the notes for an abstract on the content
  • If you do book reviews, showing how to find them from the title’s main catalogue record
  • If a search reveals icons, showing what they mean (book, magazine, website)
  • Showing how to search for other information. For example, if you have put in a reading age, demonstrate searching for a list of books recommended for a particular year level
  • Showing the quickest way to start a new search (avoiding hitting the back button).

5. Borrower reports - use system borrower reports as evidence:

  • Inform staff which reports are available that can provide them with additional information about individual students’ reading profiles. For instance borrower records – useful for parent teacher interviews
  • Target support to students who are not borrowing as evidenced in borrower history reports
  • OPAC search reports provide evidence of the types of searches being carried out by students. These are very useful in identifying gaps in information literacy. For instance your search reports will show whether or not your students are clear about how different searches operate – title, author, keyword.
  • Promote wider use of other reports such as most popular author or title, or non-fiction versus fiction borrowing.

Library Management

1. Use system reports to support your purchasing decisions, including information on:

  • Popular authors or subjects
  • Status of resources – lost, current, under repair
  • Type of resources – reference, sophisticated picture books, non-fiction

NB: Ask your provider for training on how to use the full range of reporting features in your ILS, to enable you to generate reports giving more detailed information than the what the basic reports provide.

2. Stocktaking: Familiarise yourself with your system’s stocktaking processes including the post-stocktake database tidy up. See also our Stocktake guide.

3. Consistency in data recording helps your users find all the relevant information when using an appropriate search term.

  • When adding data to your catalogue records, it is very important that all terms are consistent throughout.
  • For instance, if you have a collection of staff resources, you will want to indicate this in every one of these catalogue records. You may choose to put the label in the ‘Type’ or ‘Location’ field. Decide on the term you are going to use and note it in your School Library Manual for future use. Your chosen term may be ‘Teacher Reference’. If you keep to that, then a search of this term will bring up everything in the staff collection, but if you change to another term such as ‘Staff Books’ then it will mean double searching for the whole collection.

Library Advocacy

1. Use system reports to support your library advocacy through evidence such as comparison of borrowing patterns for year levels, student book reviews added to the catalogue, student suggestions reflected in new titles added to the collection.

2. Ensure you constantly update and maintain your WebOPAC homepage as this is the library’s virtual door to your staff and students.

System management

1. Set up your system to meet your requirements (often described as ‘configuration’ or similar term). These would include circulation such as user groups, borrowing limits, and holiday issuing dates. This is often done by the system support provider, however library staff must ensure they know how to do this themselves, to facilitate future changes as required. For instance, changing class names to set up overdue book reports.

2. Data entry must be excellent and consistent, as what you enter and how well you do it impacts on how successful your catalogue will be as an information source.

3. Test your OPAC from the student searching end to ensure that vital information is appearing on first result page following a search. Can students clearly see where an item is located in the collection? For example, if you list a reference book in the ‘type’ or the ‘location’ field, it may not show on first page of OPAC search, so you may want to put REF at end of classification number.

4. Explore the system for shortcuts. For instance multiple deletes after a book deselection or weed; or changing the status of bulk books, if you shift books from one location to another.

5. Find out whether your system makes use of the Function keys for far quicker access.

6. Proposed purchases or acquisitions – using this function will give you an easy print out of books purchased in each subject area and their cost.

7. Check whether your system allows you to create a ‘New Library’ (separate database) for another restricted borrowing collection such as Teacher Resources.

8. Back up every day. Check with your system vendor for instructions and advice for your particular set up.

Helpdesk support and training

1. Use the helpdesk to support what you want to do with your system. Ask questions, keep a note of responses so you can incorporate them into your school library handbook.

2. Check your system vendor’s website for additional training videos and help forums.

3. Read the user manual – make sure you know how to access your user manual – and report any additional instructions that you require to your system vendor for inclusion in the next version of the manual.

4. Training sessions – if you are in the process of purchasing a new system or changing from one system to another, include training costs in your budget.

5. Attendance at all future regional training sessions run by your provider is essential to keep up with new applications and ensure you are fully utilising current applications.

6. Locate other system users in your area – collaborate and take turns to share your best tips and tricks. Find out if there is a local user group in your area, or start one.

Future Developments

As you become more familiar with how your system works and what it can do, you may identify areas of functionality that are not currently available. Make these suggestions to your system vendor at any opportunity. It is the community of users who often affect change and development for library software.