Exemplar system: Definition of the Problem

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Penkwood Library

Mr Smith runs the Penkwood Library, which is situated on High Street in Penkwood, Staffordshire. The library is a Music CD lending library with an ever-expanding customer base.

Mr Smith manages the lending of CDs using a filing card system. The details of each customer are written onto individual filing cards and the details of each CD are also written onto individual filing cards.

When a CD is borrowed the customer's and the CD's cards are put together using a paperclip and filed into a card filing box.

A CD card


A Customer card


Mr Smith has found that as the library gets more popular this system has become increasingly awkward to use. The problems include:

  • It now takes quite a long time to find a customer's card
  • It also takes quite a long time to find a CD's card
  • The cards get bent and damaged easily, and have to be replaced regularly
  • The cards are put back in the wrong place and are almost impossible to find later
  • Searching for overdue CDs takes a lot of time and mistakes can be made
  • It takes about five minutes to serve each customer because of the card system and customers are beginning to complain about the wasted time.

Mr Smith has decided that he needs a new system on a computer to replace the card file system. He wants it to do everything that the old system will do, but he wants it to be more efficient and quicker to work.

He wants the new system to:

  • let him serve a customer in one minute.
  • do the CD lending process.
  • search the system for overdue CDs.
  • print a list of the overdue CDs and which customers have them.
  • merge the overdue details into letters to be sent to customers.

Mr Smith has asked me to create this new system for him.

I think that the most effective solution to this problem might be to make a relational database with a table for the CD details and a table for the customer details. The database will be linked to a word processor to allow mail merged letters to be created.