About Standards and Guidelines for Automated Library Systems

Dickinson Area Public Library - Dickinson, ND.

Dickinson Area Public Library - Dickinson, ND.


The Standards Review Task Force was created jointly by Minitex and the Minnesota Office of Library Development and Services (LDS), Minnesota Department of Education, in October 1985. The Task Force includes representatives from various types of libraries, appointed by the Directors of Minitex and LDS for terms of service from one to three years. Members of the Task Force can be re-appointed. The Task Force meets at least three times a year.

The Task Force identifies areas in which work is needed on standards for libraries in Minnesota relating to online library systems. Once an area has been identified, such as Telecommunications, a Working Group is appointed to produce a Draft Standards Document for that area. The Working Group is comprised of both appropriate members from the Standards Task Force and others with expertise in the area.

The Working Group identifies basic standards and guidelines, and includes appropriate educational material when producing a document. Once a document has been produced, it is reviewed by the Standards Task Force and then circulated for comment to librarians in Minnesota. Comments are reviewed, the document may be revised by the Working Group, and it then goes to the LDS Advisory Council and the Minitex Advisory Committee for approval. Upon approval, the document developed by the Working Group becomes part of the standards document.

The Task Force also monitors national and international standards. Minitex is a voting member of NISO, the National Information Standards Organization. Standards received from NISO for review and/or vote are listed and described in the Minitex Messenger, which is circulated to librarians in Minnesota. Librarians are invited to receive copies of national standards in which they are interested from the Minitex Office and send comments on the standards to Minitex. These comments are reviewed before Minitex casts its vote.

The work of the Task Force is ongoing. As well as identifying new areas for standards work, the Task Force reviews existing standards as needed. The Task Force is interested in your ideas and suggestions for areas the Task Force should consider for work. Please contact the Minitex or LDS Office with your suggestions.


Minnesota libraries of all types—Academic, Public, School and Special—are automating library operations in order to improve library services and to achieve greater cost effectiveness and efficiency. Most libraries begin the process by building a machine readable bibliographic database of the library's holdings, entering records for items added to the library collections and retrospectively converting records for items previously cataloged. The resultant bibliographic database serves as the basic building block for automated circulation systems and on-line public access catalogs.

Because of the long history and tradition of resource sharing among libraries in Minnesota, librarians have emphasized that automated systems not only must fulfill internal operations needs, but also must facilitate resource sharing among libraries. Applications of computer technology to libraries in the 1970s suggest that it might be feasible to create an online state-wide database of library holdings which could support both interlibrary loan and internal operations of libraries.

In the early 1980s, however, it became apparent that developments in minicomputer technology, the increase in microcomputer capacity and decrease in these costs and the escalating costs of telecommunications, as well as the emergence of a competitive market place of vendors of automated library systems, made development of a large centralized system impractical.

In this new environment, librarians recognized that standards for library automated systems were needed to allow remote access to systems and ultimately to link different systems. Participants in a workshop on online circulation systems and online catalogs sponsored by Minitex in early January 1981 unanimously recommended that a task force be created to draft standards which would:

  • Encourage compatibility in online circulation systems and online catalogs to facilitate the greatest possible interface.
  • Assist libraries and library systems planning in the near future to install online catalogs or online circulation systems to establish system requirements.
  • Assist libraries and library systems planning in the more distant future to install online catalogs or online circulation systems to begin now, if they so choose, to establish system requirements, to label bibliographic records and library materials with machine readable codes and to issue machine readable identification cards to borrowers.

A task force on standards was convened jointly by Minitex and the Office of Library Development and Services (LDS), Minnesota Department of Education. The task force included representatives from various types of libraries and was charged with developing standards for user, item and institution identification, and for bibliographic record format.

Standards for remote access and data privacy were also developed by the task force, and drafts of all the proposed standards were disseminated for comment. The standards were issued in June 1981, and were endorsed by the Advisory Council to LDS on December 4, 1981.

In September 1983, LDS and the Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Board convened a task force to review and revise the 1981 standards. The revised standards were adopted by the Advisory Council to the Office of Library Development and Services on December 7, 1984. Both task forces have called for frequent review of the state standards because the field of standards is dynamic, and efforts must continue to remain in conformance with developing American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards.

A new standards task force was jointly created by the Office of Library Development and Service (LDS) and Minitex in October, 1985. An ongoing process for developing, reviewing and monitoring standards has been established by this task force.

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