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.
Why Build a Library Collection and Circulation System in WordPress?
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
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.
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’.
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 Your WordPress admin dashboard has been replaced by the Web Librarian admin dashboard.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.
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.
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 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.
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’.
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.
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]
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.
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.