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Evolution of Information Systems and Service Innovation

Essay by   •  October 28, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  3,097 Words (13 Pages)  •  1,096 Views

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Introduction

Established in 1948 the Balme Library is the largest and main and the largest library of the University of Ghana. In addition to the Balme Library, there are other smaller libraries in the various Colleges, Schools, Institutes, and Departments within the Faculties, Halls of Residence and the Accra City Campus, which forms the University of Ghana Library Systems (UGLS).

The large collection and the scope of the coverage of the collection make the Balme Library a very important, indeed vital part of the academic life on the campus. This paper looks at the effect of evolution of information studies and service innovation in the provision of library services in the UGLS.

Information systems or IS can be defined technically as a set of interrelated components that aid in the collection, filtering, processing, creation and distribution of data to support decision making and control in an organization (Laudon & Laudon, 2010) whereas according to the Green paper on Innovation of the European Union (European Commission, 1996), Innovation is defined in brief:

* The renewal and enlargement of the range of products and services and the associated markets.

* The establishment of new methods of production, supply and distribution.

* The introduction of changes in management, work organization, and the working conditions and skills of the workforce.

The history of IS correspond to the history of computer science, which started way before the contemporary discipline of computer science sprouted in the 20th century. With regard to the circulation of ideas and information, a number of legacy information systems are still in existence today. These systems are continually updated to enhance ethnographic strategies to ascertain data integrity, as well as ensure viable improvements of the social efficiency and effectiveness of the entire process (Culnan, 1987). In essence, information systems focus on processing information within organizations, particularly within business enterprises, as well as sharing the advantages with the contemporary society. This paper will establish the link between the evolution of information systems and service innovation in the University of Ghana Library System (UGLS).

Information Systems (IS) in libraries has evolved rather substantially, and theories regarding the adoption and maturity of IS are effectively established within the literature of the management of libraries (March & Park, 2004). When Dr. John Atanasoff and his assistant Clifford Berry created the initial electronic, digital computer in the year 1939, neither of them anticipated the wave of inventions that followed their innovation. The Atanasoff-Berry-Computer (ABC) provided a viable foundation for the latest advancements in electronic and digital computers, which process binary information bits while also performing mathematical computations.

Phases of Information Systems and Library Services

The Balme Library collections house a wide variety of materials on many different topics and in many different formats. The challenge the Balme Library had in making these materials available for the use of library patrons was letting the patrons know what was in the collection. This is the reason for having a library catalogue and for taking the time to correctly catalogue library materials. The library catalogue can be compared to the index of a book. The index provides the reader with a way to find information in the book without having to read every page. The index tells the reader the page on which the information about a specific subject can be found. The library catalogue does the same thing. It tells the library user exactly where materials meeting their specific needs can be found, with the call number of the book corresponding to the page number in an index. The information contained in the cataloguing record provides the many access points needed by the patron looking for information in the library. Traditionally, the library card catalogue provided access by the author's name, the title of an item, and the subject(s) covered in the item. Other points of access were additional authors, names of series, illustrators, and sometimes the titles of contents. The card catalogue had been used since the inception of the library.

The organization of the Balme Library which is the hub of the University of Ghana library System depended on how information i.e the books and other library materials were processed using the card catalogue. Every member of the department, ranging from professional through sub-professional to technical/clerical personnel, had a distinct function to perform according to his or her status.

A typical organogram of the library during the card catalogue era

Over the last three decades however, computer-based information systems and business organizations developed in unique and special ways (Mukherji, 2002). As far as computers are concerned, the manner of hardware and software development resulted in unique architectures evolving over time. At the same time, library structures developed special forms to suit and fit their specific environment and strategic requirements.

Computer based IS are categorized by their architecture or topology (Burch, 1985), which are a set of interconnections or nodes in a network. According to (Mukherji, 2002), There are four main types of IS architectures or topologies consisting of centralized, distributed, decentralized, and stand-alone systems.

The combination of hardware, software, data, and communication formed the core of IS. As each of these dimensions developed and integrated, the concept, design and capability of IS underwent massive changes. The earliest systems were the classic centralized systems characterized by a mainframe host computer supported by an array of peripherals, including "dump" terminals, which allowed interactive, information processing activities mostly of a transactional nature (Leifer, 1988). These centralized systems were modest in size in the earlier generation computers, but grew from small, medium to large centralized mainframe systems over time. This was the trend up to the 1970s, and for the first 20 years discussion on data and systems were about techniques to manage data in a centralized environment (Spargue and McNurlin, 1993).

In the early 1960s, the main concern among hardware manufacturers and data processing managers was achieving machine efficiency. With increasing demands and sophistication of users of information, and with the availability of powerful personal computers, data processing activities became more distributed. This

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