OpenBiblio in Armenia: Automation of Small Libraries

A case study of OpenBiblio: an Integrated Library System - implementation in rural Armenian libraries

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Case Study
Zargaryan, Tigran
June 2011

Small libraries in Armenia (those with collections less than 40,000 volumes), are often isolated from the global Library Information Systems (LIS) community due to financial constraints, lack of educated staff and/or the absence of Internet connectivity. This means that they are not in a position to implement any tools for the automation of library processes, greatly reducing their ability to develop and move forward with technology.


The Fundamental Scientific Library (FSL) is one of the leading organisations in Armenia in the field of popularising and implementing FOSS products. The FSL sought a tool that would enable them to begin to move small libraries towards library automation.

Selected during the EIFL-FOSS call for pilot projects, they chose OpenBiblio because it was UNICODE compatible, which is a vital consideration because it is the only way to ensure the software will operate successfully in the Armenian language. Also OpenBiblio is suitable for smaller libraries with collections up to 30,000 volumes. One very important advantage of working with OpenBiblio is that deep technical knowledge is not required and it only requires very basic hardware – it can be installed and maintained on a single stand-alone Pentium computer running Windows. 

In partnership with EIFL and with financial support from the Civilitas Foundation, they moved forward with the project. First of all, all the training materials on the installation and maintenance of OpenBiblio were translated into Armenian. Then, they conducted training with 11 librarians from 6 regions. In addition to hands-on training in OpenBiblio, the librarians also received training in the principles of machine readable cataloguing rules and standards. At a follow up meeting in June, the librarians reported that they were all able to successfully install OpenBiblio and had not encountered any problems

Key achievements

§  Four regional and municipal libraries are now in the process of automating their libraries

§  The project raised the visibility of the importance of automating smaller regional or rural libraries

§  The project attracted funding from a significant donor

§  Librarians learned new skills, including machine readable cataloguing rules and standards, the importance of FOSS technology in general and OpenBiblio specifically

§  Improved efficiency of library management for regional and municipal libraries

§  Patrons now have the convenience of online access to the library catalogue

§  A team member presented the project at EIFL-FOSS 2011 Regional Seminar in Tanzania; it received a positive response, five delegates from other countries expressed an interest to implement OpenBiblio. 


OpenBiblio is an open source integrated library management system of particular interest to small libraries with limited technical expertise and resources of less than 50,000 volumes.

OpenBiblio is based upon MARC21 record format but any compatible format records may be imported (the session will also mention MarcEdit, free software for helping to get records into a format suitable for importing). OpenBiblio contains modules for OPAC, circulation, cataloguing, administration and reporting from the database. It has been translated (localised) into Spanish and Armenian and is distributed under the GNU General Public License, meaning it can be freely used and shared by anyone. It is used widely, for example by regional and municipal libraries in Armenia and by primary schools in Chile.


You can read the full report from a project to introduce OpenBiblio as an ILS for small and rural Armenian libraries (Download available below the text) and also an executive overview of the pilot report

Further resources

OpenBiblio homepage

Download page 

User Community

Developer communities

You can also find some very useful information on this ( page including a one-hour webinar recording on how to install and run OpenBiblio in your library.