We use automated library to denote a library in which the collections of library materials are primarily on paper but in which the library procedures have been computerized. Libraries are very record-intensive: Not only is each title different but, for many purposes, the records needed for library operations must necessarily be concerned with individual copies of each title. A circulation system must know precisely which copy of which volume of which edition of which title was borrowed by precisely which borrower and when it is due back. Attributing the loan to some other borrower will not do; nor will substituting the return of some other document, even by the same borrower, be acceptable as a discharge of the loan. Acquisition records need to show precisely how many
copies of a given work were ordered from which bookseller and which, if any, have so far been received. A library not knowing which titles it already has (and in how many copies) could not function efficiently. Serials records contain minute details of copies of issues, indexes, binding, and invoices in order to assure that each set is complete and properly acquired, bound, and paid for. Library records, then, must be specific to individual copies. In general it is desirable that library record-keeping be automated for three reasons:
1. Much of the work involves the accurate updating of records in files. The tasks involved are generally tedious, repetitive, mechanical in nature, and lend themselves to computerization, even though the records may be complex and arranged in complicated ways.
2. Automation is likely to improve cost-effective performance by increasing accuracy, by reducing the rate of increase in costs in labor-intensive activities, and by increasing effectiveness. It should become possible to do some tasks more thoroughly than levels of staffing
usually permit with manual procedures, such as the regular claiming of unsupplied issues of periodicals, or by doing things that cannot in practice be done in paper files, notably searching for combinations of characteristics.