Books have always been a person’s best friend and in student life, we have endless encounters with books as they are the greatest source of information available to us. But to find a book in a college library can be a very tedious task. What if we don’t have to care much about this anymore?
This project of mine focuses on solving this problem and make the library services more user-friendly and accessible.
I was sitting in the library and doing this course, looking at a freshmen’s struggle to find a book. This made me realize that it is a day to day problem. All the students come to the library once in a while to issue academic books recommended by faculties.
The major problems faced by the students are –
- To see whether the book they are looking for is available in the library or not.
- If the book is available, is it available for the issue?
- If the book is not available, then by when it will be.
Why is there a need for this app?
The basic purpose is to save a student’s time so that he doesn’t waste his time by coming to the library to search for some particular books. Instead, he gets to check the availability of the book prior coming to the library by surfing the College Library App, where they can look for a particular book and also know whether it is available in the library or not.
This saves a lot of time especially in my college’s case as the library is quite far away from the hostels and if a student comes to the library and doesn’t find what he is looking for, it irritates and eventually the tendency of the person to come to the library again declines.
Since the idea was to make the library more user-friendly, it was very necessary to look for the best practices used in the libraries across the country and check what is the best plausible solution that I can come up with.
The current system used in my college library was the OPAC(Online Public Access Catalog). It is widely used in Indian College Libraries and the only drawback it has is the mobility of the system. There is only one single PC for it in our library and it is not very user-friendly.
Other systems used widely is KOHA. This is a great system and users can install it on their computers and login to check which books are available in the library and which are not. Its one major drawback is that it is a task to install it in the PC and it took me around 3 hours to install it.
LNMIIT Library App
The basic approach I kept in mind was to make the process of using library services a hassle free and interactive experience. The process of looking for the apps should be as easy as someone searching for a topic on Google.
I had a certain understanding of how the app should look like as I was myself a user of the library services. After putting a considerable amount of research into the app, there was an idea for how the app should look like and what features should it contain.
The things that I thought of would not only change the way of issuing books, but also the mindset of the students coming to the library. Now, no one will have to waste his/her time just coming to check the availability of the book. By upgrading the library services, we are not only making the use of it a great user experience but also saving some time for all students.
- View the books available in the library, with the number of copies available.
- View a brief description of the books.
- Bookmark option.
- E-Library Collection of journals and E-books issued by the library.
- Options like donate, recommend and search for books.
- Notifications if the due date is near, or a book previously unavailable becomes available, etc.
- An option to pay the due amount left to the library.
- Options to categorize the search for books.
- Option to download e-books and journals on the app.
I conducted some user interviews and observed the types of students coming to the library. I was able to sum up with the observations by categorizing them into three groups —
- Student type 1 — This student comes to the library once in a while whenever the exams are near and look out for the book suggested by the course instructor. The chances of him getting a book issued are very less as all the books might already be issued or are not available.
- Student type 2 — This student comes to the library almost on a regular basis and knows what books are available in the library collection and what books he needs to get issued. But he still faces problems as sometimes the books are not available for issue in the library.
- Student type 3 — This student is a regular user of the library and keeps track and issues the books regularly from the library. He issues the books always on time and almost never faces the problem of not getting a book issued.
- Now the interesting part is that is we see by how many percent of the college students fall into these categories. We see that around 70% of people are from the group 1, 20% from group 2 and less than 10% are in group 3 and this changes the overall experience of the library system.
The application is divided into three main categories —
Search(serves as the home page)
It is a carousal for various types of books available in the library. It gives users the option to search the books via various categories or via a direct name search. This is the first screen that the user sees after logging into the app.
Other features available on the home page are —
The students get notified when they issue a book, when the deadline for submitting a book is near or when the student has paid a fine, etc.
This page also features a search bar to search among the bookmarked books.
This is a section where one can access and download all the e-books, journals and research papers the library has to offer.
This acts as the page where all the user information, history of issued books and other settings related options are available for the application. Here the user can see what books he/she has currently issued and also other options like giving feedback to the library and seeing the payment information for due books.
This was a project which took a week to plan and design. The one important thing I learned from this project was to see what are the daily life problems faced by me and others. These small problems in a system, when unsolved, creates a negative impact on the lives of the people. When these problems are solved and the user experience is bettered, it makes us think positively and thus we contribute to the society at a very micro level.
So I will like to end this article with a famous quote by M. Cobanli —
“Great design is not just a solution, it is the elimination of the problem”