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How to Build a Library Collection and Circulation System in WordPress

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Do you want to build a library collection or circulation system in WordPress?

If you work at a public library, then you may be surprised to learn that you can use WordPress to set up a cost-effective solution to manage your collection and circulation digitally.

In this article, we’ll show you how to build a library collection and circulation system in WordPress.

How to Build a Library Collection and Circulation System in WordPress

Why Build a Library Collection and Circulation System in WordPress?

Often WordPress is used as a blogging platform, but there are many other creative ways of using WordPress. One of these is a library collection and circulation system.

You can use a WordPress plugin to create a system to manage a library’s collection. It allows you to search items, add users, volunteers, circulations, and more.

Let’s take a look at how to run and manage a library collection and circulation system in WordPress.

How to Build a Library Collection and Circulation System in WordPress

The first thing you need to do is install and activate the Web Librarian plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

This plugin was started as a portable, cross-platform system for the Wendell Free Library to use while transitioning from a paper card based system.

Setting Up Amazon AWS (Optional)

Note that there is no need to link the Web Librarian plugin with AWS. The plugin will work fine, you just won’t be able to get information about books or other items from Amazon.

If you have an Amazon Web Services account, then you might like to use it to look up product information about the items you add to your collection.

You will need to navigate to Settings » Web Librarian and enter your AWS keys and Amazon Associate tag. After that, you should click the ‘Save Options’ button to store your settings.

Configure AWS Options

Creating a User With the Librarian Role

Next, you need to create one or more new users, and assign them user roles, so they can work with the Web Librarian system. There are three roles available: Librarian, Senior Aid, and Volunteer. For this tutorial, we’ll create one user with the Librarian role.

You need to navigate to Users » Add New and fill in the new user’s details. After that, you should click on the ‘Role’ drop down and select ‘Librarian’.

Create a New User With the Librarian Role

Once you are finished, you need to click the ‘Add New User’ button to create the new user.

Adding New Patrons and Books to Your Library Collection

At this point, you will need to log out of your website’s back end, and then log in with the new Librarian user’s credentials. Your WordPress admin dashboard has been replaced by the Web Librarian admin dashboard.

You will see there are new sections in the admin sidebar to manage collections, patrons, and circulation desks.

The Web Librarian Dashboard

This works like any other Library software where the librarian is expected to enter the data manually to manage collections. You can also import the data from other sources.

Adding a New Patron

To add a new patron, you need to navigate to Patrons » Add New and then fill in the patron’s contact details, such as their name, address, and telephone number.

Adding a New Patron

Once finished, you should click the ‘Add Patron’ button to store their settings.

Alternatively, if you already have your patrons’ details in another database, then you can import them into Web Librarian. You’ll need to export the data to a CSV file, then navigate to the Patrons » Add New Bulk page where you can import it.

Adding New Patrons in Bulk

Adding a New Items to the Collection

The staff is also able to add new books to the library collection by going to the Collection » Add New page. Here they can add in all of the book’s details, including the title, author, publisher, and ISBN number.

Adding a New Item to the Collection

Like patrons, books can also be added in bulk from a CSV file.

Adding a New Circulation Type

You will also need to define how long your patrons can borrow your books. To do that, you need to head over to Circulation Types » Add New.

Once there you need to type the number of days a book can be borrowed in the ‘Loan Period’ field. You also need to give the type a name, such as ’14 Days’.

Adding a New Circulation Type

You can have multiple circulation types with different loan periods, say for different types of patrons, or different types of items. For example, you could allow patrons to borrow books for 14 days, and videos for 7 days.

Make sure you click the ‘Add New Type’ button to save each of these.

Checking Books In and Out at the Circulation Desk

Once the library is open, the staff and volunteers will spend much of their time on the Circulation Desk page. This allows them to check books in and out, place them on hold for patrons, and more.

Managing Circulations at the Desk

They can use a bar code reader to scan in the book and use a search or lookup to find the patron’s details. Buttons are available for checking books in, listing the books on hold, and listing all checked out items.

Displaying Your Library Collection on Your Website’s Front End

You can display your book collection on the front end of your website so that your patrons can search it online. You do this by using shortcodes within your posts and pages.

The plugin’s installation page has a link to a detailed PDF user manual that you can use when setting up your library. Here is a basic example from that manual of how to create a basic library search page on your website.

You’ll need to log back out of your website, then log back in as a user with an Administrator or Editor role. After that, you should create a new page and give it a suitable title, such as ‘Library’ or ‘Collection’.

Next, add these two shortcodes to your page:

[weblib_itemlist holdbutton=1 inlinemoreinfo=1]
Adding Shortcode to a Page

This code will display a search form and a list of items in your library collection.

Here is a screenshot from the user manual of how that page will look to your patrons when they visit your WordPress website.

Preview of the Frontend of Your Library System

We hope this tutorial helped you learn how to build a library collection and circulation system in WordPress. You may also want to learn how to increase your blog traffic, or check out our list of must have WordPress plugins for all websites.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

10 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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  2. keitai says


    Would you recommend this plugin for a simple rental business of different product (approx 1000 items)? Or would you recommend another plugin?

    I am able to produces my own custom functions / logic but I like to have a good plugin as a starting point.

    Any tips, suggestions,

  3. Olawale Daniel says

    Having a Library in my membership site has always been my headache. The task ahead is bigger than what I can face. But I think this plugin should help me out.

  4. Basanta Thapa says

    Thanks for the insight! I would love if you could post a few more screenshots of the actual interface, so we can get a grip on the look and feel of the plugin.

  5. Jesinth says

    It was really Helpful. Thank you for the information. But how will the information of the book be produced when typed in the search box? Can you help me out?

  6. anil says

    Hi, nice article. I installed this plugin and followed the steps explained above. But when I type something in the search box, nothing is coming up in the results. Can you help me out in this regard?

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