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AN ONLINE BOOK-BANK MONITORING SYSTEM
This project was aimed at developing an online book-bank monitoring system inMakerereUniversity. The responsibility of monitoring book-banks inMakerereUniversityis vested in the main library and is executed by the Bank-Bank section. It was intended to address the current problems encountered in using a manual system to monitor the activities of the book-banks. The study covered three book-banks namely; Faculty of Computing and IT, Faculty of Law and Department of Adult Education and Communication Studies (InstituteofAdultand Continuing Education). Interviews, observation and questionnaires were used as data collection techniques. The project analyzes the system requirements and then comes up with the requirements specifications. It studies other related systems and then come up with system specifications. The system is then designed in accordance with specifications to satisfy the requirements. The system design is then implemented with MYSQL, PHP and HTML. The system is designed as an interactive and content management system. The content management system deals with data entry, validation and updating while the interactive system deals with system interaction with the users. The system is capable to largely address the problems mentioned in the existing system. It can generate reports on the total inventory of books in the system, books in each book-bank, list defaulters and other vital information required by the book-bank coordinator in the monitoring of the book-banks in the University.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The idea of the book-bank was first conceived atMakerereUniversityin 1977 but it did not take off not until 1990.MakerereUniversityintroduced the book-bank system as a component of the University Library. The creation of this unit arose out of the desire by the University to cut down on the cost of allowances given out to students to purchase essential books for their courses. Originally each government-sponsored student would be given an allowance called boom to enable him/her purchase relevant books necessary for the course.
The Book-Bank system was established in MakerereUniversityin 1990 with an initial book stock of 44,000 from the defunct University Bookshop. The stock has steadily increased and stands at over 221,696 books (November 2003), distributed in all departments, schools and institutes of the University. Departmental Book-Banks are managed at departmental level
However as the number of students grew, the government/University was no longer able to meet the book requirements in terms of allowances per student every other year. It ought to be noted that the purchased books would thereafter become the property of the student. In order to solve this problem to ensure that students accessed books at a limited cost, it was decided that the University sets up a book-bank project where the money that would otherwise be passed on to students to purchase personal books, instead be used to purchase books that would be put in a pool/bank for use by students after which they would be left behind for use by incoming students. The following objectives were behind the creation of the book-bank:
- i. To help the teaching units (Faculties and Departments) acquire the right books for the syllabus at the right time.
- ii. To develop a system capable of sustaining the university education system amidst student’s inability to buy/acquire the right textbooks on a personal basis.
- iii. To utilize carefully the limited funds allocated for textbooks.
- iv. To ensure availability of basic textbooks to students against limited funds.
- v. To develop students ability to handle property loaned to them.
The Book-bank system, coordinated from the Main Library provides the following services: -
- i. Solicits Book orders from heads of departments.
- ii. Processes the orders for suppliers; both local and overseas
- iii. Receives and processes the new books acquired.
- iv. Distributes the new processed books to respective departments, schools and institutes.
- v. Maintains a database of the acquired books.
- vi. Carries out annual stocktaking.
The book-banks of all the faculties are under the general supervision of the main university library. Each Faculty and in some cases departments have book-bank units which are directly supervised by the University Library.
The University library has recently created a database of library books that can be accessed online, where researchers, teaching staff and students can check the availability of a given book by following a link on the University library website. This system however has not been made possible for books in the book-bank section. A database has been created but is only used for record purposes for all the books purchased and disbursed to various book-bank units. This means that when it comes to monitoring, the process becomes manual whereby a printed list from the database is carry to a book-bank unit to compare with the books available.
Individual book-banks are not yet electronically and digitally linked to the main library, thus calling for the study of the current system so as to design a suitable online book-bank monitoring system. Distance learning has become a buzzard for educational programming in many institutions of higher learning in recent year. The need to provide access to post-secondary coursework at a distance has been identified as a top priority for many universities and colleges.
The driving force behind this has to do with the increased demand for access to higher education, the rising cost of colleges, the growth of information technology and competition among private enterprises in the ever-increasing commercialization of the education market (Slade, 1999 ). This is evident inMakerereUniversity; with the increased number of students, management of individual book-bank units and students of different faculties has become harder. Much as book-banks are under direct control of the University Library, monitoring by the coordinator is very difficult. The books are purchased and distributed to respective units, but monitoring is very difficult taking into account the limitations of the manual system. In some cases, the book-bank staff may be tempted to flout the rules of the University library in terms of lending policy and procedure.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The current monitoring system is manual and as a result highly tedious in terms of monitoring the book-banks. These book-banks place orders for books from the University Library. Monitoring of these book-banks is currently difficult due the fact the staff in the main Library in charge of book-banks is small and one must physically walk to a particular book-bank unit (Faculty/Department) to assess the performance. Since books are manually recorded, grouped and stored, many a time, it becomes very difficult to know how many books of a given type are available in individual book-banks by the Book-bank Coordinator. Producing a list of lost books and defaulters for example is also a nightmare. This calls for the automation of the book-bank monitoring system.
1.3.1 GENERAL OBJECTIVE
The general objective was to design an online book-bank monitoring system to enable a central monitoring mechanism of the book-bank be more faster and less error prone.
1.3.2 Specific Objectives
- i.To study and analyze the current monitoring system/procedures of the book-bank in order to come up with proper requirement specifications for the new system.
- ii. To design an online system to monitor the activities of the book-banks.
- iii. To create an application that will enable the coordinator to evaluate various book statistics, which can influence decision-making.
The study covered Makerere University Main Library book-bank section, and also focused on three book-banks namely Faculty of Computing and Information Technology (FCIT),InstituteofAdultand Continuing Education (department of adult Education and Communication studies) and Faculty of Law.
1.5 Significance of the study
The current system is highly manual and therefore tedious in terms of monitoring the book-banks in the University. Libraries are changing rapidly as they strive to bring access to electronic resources, seamless document delivery systems and information literacy skills to their communities. The new electronic information environment is pushing many libraries to rethink their services and reengineer their organizations (Holly, 1999 ).
Therefore the electronic system will help to speed up the process of book-bank monitoring in light of the increasing number of student population and shrinking number of staff. It will further allow the coordinator and other stakeholders to access the information on the book-banks online by logging into the system using their respective log-on rights.