Information System Innovation: NLB Singapore Case Study
The present report Information System Innovation: NLB Singapore Case Study highlights the information system innovation for the National Library Board in Singapore. The main responsibility for the National Library in Singapore is to handle both national as well as public library function since its inception in year 1960. Aim with which National Library Board established was to make optimised usage of the information sources of the country so as to develop a knowledge environment. So as to setup national library initially a review committee named Library 2000 (L2000) was established which surveyed in order to gain learning capacity of the nation so that national competitiveness can be enhanced accordingly.
After review of learning capacity by L2000 along with National Library Board act it was finalised that nation needs a world class library environment which can fulfil the knowledge requirement for Singapore population. A plan was prepared which would link several libraries present at different geographical location with the help of advanced information technology system. With such arrangements NLB managed a network including Chiang Reference Library, 3 regional Library, 20 public libraries and Clementi community library for children.
Further in order to expand the horizon of library services in Singapore and to develop knowledge among people advanced information technology ways were adopted with the plan named L2010. This plan would give strategic direction for the next five years and would help in wide information accessibility and knowledge exchange. Technological revolution was the key behind several expansion plans developed by NLB in order to expand their horizon for the development of knowledge economy in Singapore.
Innovation adopted in IS/IT
NLB has always remained ahead in using technology for managing the library and its resources and for using latest technology it clinched IT award in year 1998 and the CIO handling the IT operations were include among the top 100 CIO’s in the world for year 2005. In order to improve library services NLB planned a seven year improvement plan which would intake $1 billion over 7 years starting from year 1997. Technology innovation was considered as the main driver for overall improvement in the library services for NLB. The main focus for the improvement strategy was improvement in technology which mainly includes system such as the data management system (DMS) and information communication technology system (ICTS).
Data management system would be used in order to management data regarding collections, information and members of the library. DMS would collect process and manage the key information for the library. While the role of ICTS system would be to reach to end users of the library by processing data through DMS system. Several technological up-gradations were added to the ICST system so as to provide additional functionalities such as the Borrower enquiry terminal (BET), Electronic library management system (ELMS) and eLibrary Hub.
NLB become the first Library in world to employ RFID system in their library for electronic library management system. NLB collaborated with LogiTrack Company in order to develop an efficient system for specific business processes. The new system was such that it would automatically cancel the loan for book once it is deposited by book drop system and managing this system helped the library queue from 45 minutes to 5 minutes. RFID system helped to maintain a proper track of the books inventory and opened possibility for usage of other applications supported by RFID as well. RFID proved such an efficient system for NLB that yearly cost saved by RFID reached to $50 million which was mainly contributed to saving in terms of the manpower cost and attaining 15 minutes books to shelf target.
NLB employed many automated tools in order to put the library in complete “Do It Yourself (DIY)” mode where in NLB provided similar service level to user as they were doing with the help of staff. Some of the key technologies used by NLB in order to get its libraries into DIY mode included self service check machines, borrower terminal enquiries and DIY membership registration kiosk. Self service check machine helped in order to borrow or submit books for the users without any other person involved from the library staff this would reduce the peak queue time by 35 minutes and help in attaining better customer service & experience.
Borrower enquiry terminal was the another major application which was employed at NLB in order to help users for checking their membership status, loan status and clearing out their outstanding in the account through making payment by cash cards. There were several machine employed near library premises where user can make enquiry and clear his outstanding so that there are no queues at the customer service desk.
Further in order to get into self automated mode DIY membership registration kiosk were designed which would help in automatic registration of the new members without any intervention of the library staff. Developing DIY membership registration kiosk helped the NLB to attain the position of automation mode where in most of the services were automated and done by users only without any intervention from the users.
Another technological innovation added by the NLB in order to enhance service excellence was in form of the creation of discussion forum called “Ask stupid questions”. At this discussion forum NLB staff can share their views and question so as to convert the possible ideas into business. Development of e-Library hub was another step into technological innovation taken by NLB in order to integrate various digital sources of information for their users.
E-Library hub was the new concept in the library services across the world where in NLB integrated its more than 60 physical libraries so as to provides one stop information source for the users of library. Various information sources around the world can be accessed by the user at one stop information source and this would allow more savings in terms of the staff and personalised services for the users of library.
Digital library was created by NLB in order to offer source of one stop information source for its customers. This would allow customers to access available information, pay fee and make enquiry regarding several information sources such as the CD, books, journals, research papers or magazines etc. NLB made use of the SMS service in order to connect with the people and capture large masses towards their service offerings. Mobile services offered by library would allow users to make payments for the books, check their loan account and access information regarding due date of their book.
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