Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

LIPSA (Library and Information Center Staff Planning Advisor): A Microcomputer-Based System

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

LIPSA (Library and Information Center Staff Planning Advisor): A Microcomputer-Based System

Article excerpt

Staffing required for a library depends upon various factors such as number of working days in a year, hours the library is open, leave allowed per year, total stock, number of documents added per year, number of documents circulated per day, number of ready reference queries handled per day, types and quantum of services offered, and number of readers requiring guidance per day. LISPA is a set of programs developed to run on IBM PC/AT computers and compatibles to assist planning for library staff requirements, taking into consideration the above factors and more. Though it is not an expert system, it encapsulates the expert knowledge of a library staff planner. Although LISPA has built-in default values and ratios for computing the staffing required for a library, users can alter these values and standards and compute staffing requirements based on their library's needs. That is, LISPA allows the planner to choose the kinds of services required and the operational environment of the library and control the computation process according to these requirements. This facility makes LISPA useful for planning staffing needs for libraries in different socioeconomic and technological environments. The system can be used to check the present staffing needs of a library, to estimate its future requirements, and to plan staffing needs for a new library. The staffing requirements are computed and presented in the following categories: senior professionals, professionals, paraprofessionals, and skilled and unskilled staff. LISPA can be used both to plan and to teach how to manage staffing needs in a library, since it displays the steps involved in the computation and also the functions of the different sections in the library, including the various kinds of services a library can offer. The system is written in CBASIC and is easy to use, as it prompts the user throughout its execution.

Several standards for staff planning for college, university, special, research, and public libraries have been established.[1-13] But standards for planning staffing needs in libraries based on job analysis and workload were perhaps first established by Ranganathan.[14,15] His staff plan model[6,16] has been used as the basic model for the development of draft plans for several libraries and information centers in India[17-20] and has been found useful in providing basic guidelines. Libraries have different working hours, working conditions, rules and regulations, sizes, equipment and facilities, and services offered, depending on the kind of organization they serve, e.g., college, university, research institution, business, industry, municipal body. LISPA was developed on the basis of work-performance data from a large academic library in India, and the system defaults will need modification in order to make the system applicable to libraries in different environments. LISPA is flexible enough to accept data regarding workload and other parameters regarding a particular library for which staffing needs are being planned, and also to allow the system's default values to be modified according to the socioeconomic and technological environment concerned. That is, LISPA encapsulates the expert knowledge of a library staff planner, which can be temporarily modified to suit to the requirements of a particular situation. But the knowledge base reverts to its original state once the program is executed. This is because both the knowledge and the rules are embedded in the programs, unlike with other systems.[21]

LISPA is derived from Ranganathan's model[6,14-16] with several modifications. The system is self-documenting and runs on its own once the command LIPLAN or LISPA is entered. It is interactive; all data to be input and most of the parameters required are prompted. The functions and services required for a particular library can be selected and the staff planned accordingly. It runs on an IBM PC/AT computer or compatible running under MS-DOS 3. …

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