Types of Library and their Different Users.

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Library is considered to be a place of learning and there are types of library and their different users which are preferentially decided by the many purposes the libraries serve. Although a library is conventionally expected to be very large in size and must be stocked up with diverse catalogues of books that must be arranged according to the multifarious fields of human knowledge.

Libraries are meant to provide either hard or soft materials of very fine books, both depending on whether the library is a physical location or a virtual space. More often than not, many libraries are usually both physical and virtual. Its collection can include printed materials and other physical resources in many formats such as DVD, CD and cassette as well as access to information, music or other content held on bibliographic databases.

With all certainty, in order to earn efficiency and meet expectations of what it truly serves to be,  library building and environment must be a quiet and serene area for studying as well as common areas for group study and collaboration. It however is expected to be able to provide the public facilities for access to their electronic resources, that is, internet service and computer access (even other amenities that are necessary for learning must also be made available to visiting learners in order to enhance complete learning).

Libraries are then known to have types and each of them serving different functions or uses to different users. Some of the basic roles or functions that library play in the society are listed below:

  • Libraries develop the mind by broadening horizons
  • Libraries inculcate knowledge
  • Libraries inform
  • Libraries re-orientate
  • Libraries promote culture

Types of Library and their Different Users.

Let us then below check out some of the types of library and their different users.

1. Research Library

One of the types of library and their users is research library. A research library is a collection of materials on one or more subjects. A research library supports scholarly or scientific research and will generally include primary as well as secondary sources; it will maintain permanent collections and attempt to provide access to all necessary materials. A research library is most often an academic or national library, but a large special library may have a research library within its special field, and a very few of the largest public libraries also serve as research libraries. A large university library may be considered a research library.

It usually is frequented by postgraduate students and individuals who are strictly into academic research or are strongly interested in discovering new horizons.

2. National Library or Public Library

This is the library owned by a sovereign nation or state. It caters for the information needs of the country and has legal deposit right: right to acquire all the publications made by individuals and organization within the country, no matter the subject and all publications about the United State of America made by individuals or organizations overseas, no matter their nationality. National libraries do not lend books and other materials to individuals. However, they could lend materials to organizations like universities or other serious bodies in the country on long term basis.

Examples of national libraries are the National library of Nigeria, National Library of Kenya and the Library of Congress of the United States.

3. Reference Libraries

A reference library does not lend books and other items; instead, they can only be read at the library itself. Typically, such libraries are used for research purposes, for example at a university. Some items at reference libraries may be historical and even unique. Many lending libraries contain a “reference section”, which holds books, such as dictionaries, which are common reference books, and are therefore not lent out. This type of library is open to students and researchers that are looking for referencing for their work.

4. Academic Libraries

Academic libraries are libraries of tertiary institutions like universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, major seminaries and comparable theological colleges, colleges of agriculture, colleges of forestry, colleges of fisheries, and so on. Academic libraries are primarily established to provide literature support to the programmes of their parent institutions. For example, if a tertiary institution is offering degree, diploma and certificate courses, its library is expected to provide educational research and information materials in the relevant subjects to suit each.

5. Special Libraries

Many private businesses and public organizations, including hospitals, churches, museums, research laboratories, law firms, and many government departments and agencies, maintain their own libraries for the use of their employees in doing specialized research related to their work. Depending on the particular institution, special libraries may or may not be accessible to the general public or elements thereof. In more specialized institutions such as law firms and research laboratories, librarians employed in special libraries are commonly specialists in the institution’s field rather than generally trained librarians, and often are not required to have advanced degrees in a specifically library-related field due to the specialized content and clientele of the library.

Examples of special libraries are the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs’ Library, Lagos, Federal Institution of Industrial Research Oshodi Library, Nigeria Institute for Social and Economic Research Library, Ibadan, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Library, Ibadan, and the Maps and Manuscripts Library, Lagos (an arm of the National Library of Nigeria, Lagos).

6. Private Libraries

Private libraries are owned by individuals or organizations like churches. The ones owned by individuals arise out of either the owner’s educational, political or economic activities or out of the desire to offer services to the public on a commercial basis. Private libraries belonging to organizations to support the work done in the organizations, including evangelization, ministry libraries and the library of the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo at his Ikenne residence.

Private libraries are usually built in the house like a room and they are accessed by the owner, children, and visitors who are interested in reading basically for personal development and recreation.

7. Children Libraries

Children’s libraries are special collections of books intended for juvenile readers and usually kept in separate rooms of general public libraries. Some children’s libraries have entire floors or wings dedicated to them in bigger libraries while smaller ones may have a separate room or area for children. They are an educational agency seeking to acquaint the young with the world’s literature and to cultivate a love for reading. Their work supplements that of the public schools. Services commonly provided by public libraries may include storytelling sessions for infants, toddlers, preschool children, or after-school programs, all with an intention of developing early literacy skills and a love of books.


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