Management information systems in some academic libraries in Britain.
Johnson, Ian M.
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This paper examines the potential and actual use of computer generated information in decision making by academic library managers. It begins by discussing some of the contemporary issues in British higher education which are compelling library managers towards establishing a more formal planning process and towards making more systematic use of information in their decision making, especially in resources allocation and service evaluation. It considers the general features of Management Information Systems, particularly automated systems, and reviews the general development of automated library systems in British academic libraries. It then examines the current state of development of Management Information Systems in some British academic libraries. To illustrate developments, a survey of eight academic libraries in England and Scotland was undertaken in late 1991. The results of the survey showed that automated Management Information Systems are not widely available to library managers. Only two of the eight libraries made much use of their library automation systems for management information. Problems to be overcome include the crude form of data provided by existing automated library systems, a lack of agreement on what data is required for management purposes, and a lack of expertise on the part of library staff in interpreting data. The cost of establishing Management Information Systems and the absence of Management Information systems in the parent institutions had also inhibited their widespread adoption by academic libraries. However, it appears that the introduction of Management Information systems poses no threats to library staff, because most libraries already have a 'flat' management structure. The preferred option of most of the librarians is to await the future development of the more advanced Decision Support Systems, but the implementation of such systems may encounter similar obstacles.