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Friday, July 31, 2015

Can One Size Fit All--What is a library? (Part 1)

Let’s first look at the classic definitions of a library.  These definitions restrict the term to a collection of information resources which are kept for consideration and not for sale.  An examination of libraries will reveal some private and public have different characteristics.  A private library may include a personal home and some institutional libraries.  Public libraries could include everything from mobile units to educational structures.



Different libraries require different staffing, funding, and storage spaces.  A home library can be limited to a few books and no staff.  There is no dedicated fund for a large collection of electronic records stored in an ILS, collection development, computer programs, and staff.   You may find these in the public and institutional libraries.

Public and institutional libraries are defined by their communities and allotted funds from governments and/or the associated institutions.  Their staffing could consist of a driver for a possible bookmobile to staff with Phds at universities. Therefore, the classic definition of a library can be extended to include a place that holds a collection of information resources dedicated to a community.  Within a community there are diversified groups.    

One group are people who do not have the time and are too busy to get to a library.  Today, there can be completely electronic libraries to allow these people to browse books on the shelves online.  The libraries may have minimum staff since the collection has been minimized to e-books which can be downloaded.  

The second group are students that are required by their teachers to go to a conventional library to look for sources for a research paper.  This prevents students from consulting social media sites like Facebook or Wikipedia.  This interactive communication is not usually stored in a library and would not be the type of information the instructor is looking for.

The third group loves to luxuriate in the library enjoying conventional libraries which may have some computers, librarians, book cases, and quiet spaces.

This is not to say that you cannot have a combination of all 3 of these in one location.


Therefore, can it be stated that one size fits all?