Sunday, November 30, 2008

Introduction to libraries: Types of libraries

There are four major categories of libraries:

  1. Academic libraries
  2. Public libraries
  3. School libraries
  4. Special libraries

Academic libraries
Academic libraries are those in an institution providing secondary education. In Canada, there are community colleges, universities and technical institutes. The mission of an academic library is to support the parent institution in delivering its programs. University libraries are geared toward general studies at the undergraduate and graduate level. Community colleges and technical institute libraries are aimed at programs, which teach practical skills. In Manitoba, there are five university library systems: Brandon University, Canadian Mennonite University, Coll├Ęge universitaire de Saint-Boniface, the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg. There are three community college libraries: Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, University College of the North in The Pas, and Red River College in Winnipeg. There are several independent college libraries in Manitoba, including Concord College in Winnipeg, Providence College in Otterburne, and the William and Catherine Booth College in Winnipeg. Academic libraries are funded by government grants to post-secondary institutes as well as tuition fees paid by students. Note that the Faculty Library Advisory Committee are linked to the department libraries, but that the Head Librarians do not report directly to these committees. The committees merely provide advice regarding their department or faculty's information needs and the types of services and collections they require.
Another difference between university libraries and community college or technical institute libraries in Canada is the breadth of materials held in their collections. University libraries contain materials in many different languages and also house theses and dissertations written by graduates of the university. For example, the University of Manitoba has an Icelandic collection as well as a Slavic collection. Most works in collections in libraries at community colleges or technical institutes are in the English language and written at the undergraduate level. However, as more community colleges and technical institutes are offering advance diploma programmes and courses towards university degrees, this difference may not be as noticeable.

The Association of College and Research Libraries (a division of the American Library Association) has established standards for college and university libraries. The latest edition of the standard for university libraries is 2005. "Standards for University Libraries: Evaluation and Performance," College and Research Libraries News 50 (September 1989) Also available over the Internet, The latest edition of the standard for college libraries is 2004. These standards make recommendations for the appropriate size of a basic collection, the number of volumes per full-time faculty member and full time undergraduate and the number of volumes for each field taught at the masters and doctoral levels. They also recommend minimum and excellent staffing levels within libraries. Formulas are provided for calculating the size of facility required to house all the materials and to provide appropriate study space and service.

There are four major objectives of academic libraries.
1. To educate
2. To provide research resouces
3. To provide information
4. To preserve materials

Basic services
To meet these objectives, academic libraries have the following basic information services.
1. Bibliographic instruction
2. Electronic reference resources
3. Government publications
4. Document delivery
5. Reserve readings
6. Photocopiers

Bibliographic instruction (BI)
To meet the objective of educating students, academic libraries offer bibliographic instruction services. In simplest terms, BI is the teaching individuals how to use library resources. It may be given at the time a patron approaches the information desk (Point of Use), library orientation or tours, or it may be seminars or courses (Formal Instruction). University and college libraries offer a wide variety of formal seminars and courses in using library resources, from finding materials using the OPAC, highlighting relevant resources in a specific subject area, searching specialized CD-ROM periodical indexes, to effectively searching the Internet. These courses are now being offered over the Internet, as well as in a classroom environment. Creating handouts, which explain the physical layout of the library and producing pathfinders, which list sources of information in a specific field of study, are another form of bibliographic instruction. Academic librarians are finding that they now spend more time instructing than providing traditional reference service. They believe the reason for this is the increasing complexity in locating information via electronic means. Bibliographic instruction is now seen as providing students with information literacy skills.

Electronic reference resources
As in all other aspects of life, advances in computer technology have dramatically altered the way research is done. No longer is it merely necessary for the academic library to subscribe to major periodical indexes, subject specialized encyclopaedias and hand books and major directories. Academic libraries must now decide upon the best format of providing these resources. Are the print indexes still required as well as electronic versions? Should the library purchase the indexes on CD-ROM and make them available over the network, or should it subscribe to the same resources over the Internet? Most CD-ROM publishers have different subscription prices for networked versions, depending on the number of individuals who are allowed access at a time. The library then requires sophisticated network hardware to ensure that only authorized users access the networked CD-ROMs and to keep track of how many of these users are accessing a single CD-ROM public at any point in time.
Most academic libraies have noted that requests for on-line searches on remote databases have declined dramatically since the advent of CD-ROM technology. On-line search services are still offered, but they are usually for resources unavailable on CD-ROM, or when individiuals need extremely current information.

Government publications
Academic libraries have large collections of government publications to support the research and teaching of the parent institution. Rarely are these integrated into the main collection, but are housed separately and arranged alphabetically by the name of the jurisdiction, which published the material.

Document delivery
Document delivery is a rapidly growing service in academic libraries. The remarkable expansion of knowledge (over 40,000 scientific jourrnals publish over one million articles per year) and the ease of access to this literature through remote databases and CD-ROM indexes, has resulted in alerting library users to many excellent resources, which are unavailable in their local university or college library. At the same time, libraries are experiencing budget cuts and are forced to cancel many periodical subscriptions. To ensure that researchers continue to have access to resources, libraries have had to place more emphasis on document delivery. This is known as the just-in-time method of collection development as opposed to the traditional just in case (i.e. having items on the shelf in the expectation that students and faculty will use them) method. Academic libraries readily embraced facisimile transmission and optical scanning technologies to reduce the time required to acquire materials from other libraries.

Reserve readings
Reserve readings are required readings for courses. They may be books, periodical articles, reports, or software packages. Because all students in a particular course will be requesting the same material, academic libraries place the material "on reserve". There is usually a separate room or shelving area at the circulation desk for these items. The items are on short-term loan, often one hour, two hours, twenty-four hour or two or three day loan. Fines are levied for overdue materials, to encourage their prompt return. In the days before photocopiers (yes, they did exist!) academic libraries had large reading rooms with study carrels for students to read reserve materials. Now most academic libraries provide numerous photocopier in reserve reading areas for students to make copies of the materials. It is predicted that in the near future academic libraries will obtain copyright clearance to place reserve readings on the Internet for students to download a single copy onto their own computer.

Academic libraries, as mentioned above, provide many photocopirs for student and faculty use. Larger libraries sell encoded plastic cards for particular amounts of money. For example, if each copy costs 10 cents, an individual can purchase a card encoded with $10.00, which would allow him or her to make 100 copies. Photocopiers take up much staff time in clearing paper jams, adding paper or toner, phoning for repairs and in instruction on use.

To meet the research needs of the parent institution, academic libraries must ensure that library materials do not deterioate to the point they are unable to be used. Modern book publishers used lower quality paper and as a consequence, some books are literally turning to dust on the shelves. However, due to rising demand from academic libraries, more academic book publishers are using acid-free materials. Academic libraries have actively pursued preservation programs to ensure valuable resources are not lost. Local newspapers are microfilmed, and libraries are exploring the feasibility of scanning documents into a digital format and storing them on CD-ROM or making them available over the World Wide Web.

Issues and trends in academic libraries
Academic libraries face many challenges. Universities and colleges introduce new fields of study, which require additional funds to support and, in some instances, require materials from non-Western countries, which are expensive and difficult to locate. Colleges and technicial institutes have experienced draamatic increases in both student enrolment and the number of programs offered. Although enrolment in universities have declined, more students are pursuing part-time and distance educattion studies. Distance education has different service requirements to on-campus studies.
Large academic libraries have constantly faced the issue of centralization vs. decentralization. Library users want conveniently located resources, which results in the establishment of branch libraries and sometimes undergraduate libraries. Branch libraries or undergraduate libraries require duplication of major reference resources and in times of fiscal restraint, this is seen as inappropriate expenditure of limited resources. In Canada, both the University of Toronto and University of British Columbia had closed their undergraduate libraries by 2002.
The increasing availability of information resources in a variety of formats force academic libraries to determine which resources to acquire in the most effective format and which resources to provide by document delivery.

Public libraries
Public libraries are the most familiar type of library to the general public. Their mission is to serve the informational and recreational needs of the community. Funding for public libraries is provided through municipal taxes and special government grants. In Manitoba, public libraries may be municipal or regional. Municipal public libraries are funded and supported by one municipality. Regional public libraries are funded and supported by more than one municipality. The establishment of public libraries and the responsibility of public library boards in Manitoba are governed by the Public Libraries Act.
The provincial Governor in Council has the authority to appoint a Public Library Advisory board to advise and make recommendations concerning all aspects of public libraries. In 1993, the Manitoba Public Library Advisory Board issued a strategic plan entitled, Quality and Access: The Future of Public Libraries in Manitoba. Manitoba Public Library Advisory Board. Quality and Access: The Future of Public Libraries in Manitoba: a Strategic Plan for Public Library Development, (Winnipeg: Public Library Advisory Board, 1993). The Governor in Council may also establish rules, regulations and orders, which have the force of law over the governance of public libraries in Manitoba.
Library boards must meet at least six times each year and these meetings must be held every two months. Municipalities appoint library board members. One board member must also be a member of the local municipal council. Library boards have responsibility for the operation and management of the public library. They submit an annual report to the minister in charge of the Public Library Act. Libray boards submit budgets to the municipal council and exclusively control and keep accounts of revenues and expenditures of the library. The municipal auditor audits these accounts annually. Library boards also have the responsibility of appointing, dismissing, suspending library staff and determing rules for conducts of library staff and establishing salaries.
Note that the Winnipeg Public Library does not follow this model. The library is a department of the Winnipeg municipal government and the chief librarian reports to a member of the Board of Commissioners.

Public library standards
In 1967, the Public Library Association, a division of the American Library Association, published Minimum Standards for Public Library Systems (Public Library Association, Minimum Standards for Public Library Systems, 1966 (Chicago: ALA, 1967). It promoted the concept that public libraries should attempt to serve the needs of the entire community, not just regular library users. It also encouraged the development of library systems serving regions of at least 150,000 people. There would be branch libraries at the local level supported by headquarter libraries. This standard emphasized quality of service rather than quantity of resources, but still included quantitative recommendations such as the amount of money per capita which should be spent on library services.
In 1980 the Public Library Association published A Planning Process for Public Libraries (Vernon Palmour, A Planning Process for Public Libraries, (ALA, 1980)) and in 1987 it published Planning and Role-Setting for Public Libraries (Charles R. McClure, et al., Planning and Role-Setting for Public Libraries: a Manual of Options and Procedures, (ALA, 1987)). These two documents stressed the need for each library to establish two to three roles to serve its community, to develop long-range plans with goals and objectives to fulfill these roles. The 1987 itemized eight potential roles (Ibid, Chapter 4). These included:
1. Comunity activities centre (e.g. meeting space)
2. Community information centre (e.g. bulletin board)
3. Formal education support centre (e.g. adult literacy classes, tours for school groups, etc.)
4. Independent learning centre (e.g. quiet area with tables, carrels conducive to study)
5. Popular materials Library (e.g. access to bestselling novels)
6. Preschooler's door to learning
7. Reference library (e.g. access to dictionaries, enhcyclopedias, atlases, almanacs, etc.)
8. Research Centre (e.g. access to Internet, photocopoiers, etc.)
In 1987, the Public Library Association also produced Output Measures for Public Libraries: A Manual for Standardized Procedures (Nancy Van Horn, et al., Output Measures for Public Libraries: A Manual for Standardized Procedures. 2nd ed., (Chicago: ALA, 1987)). This was a handbook for measuring library uses and services. These measurements could be collected at the national and state level. Local library systems could then compare their own measures against the state and national statistics.

Public libraries exist to provide their communities' residents with services and materials to meet their informational and recreational needs. Depending on which roles each library chooses to fill, the objective can vary from library to library. For example, the new Vancouver Public Library building houses a massive collection on seven different levels. It has many microcomputer terminals for accessing the Internet, searching subject specialized CD-ROMs, as well as terminals for searching the OPAC.
Each level is devoted to either particular service or subject areas. The children's section is on the lower level and the different subject areas on the upper levels. The upper levels have two information desks staffed with reference librarians specializing in a particular field. For example, on one level there is an information desk for science and technology related information inquiries and another for business and economics. Clearly, the Vancouver Public Library has chosen to fulfill the role of research centre.

Basic Services
Regardless of which roles a particular library chooses to fulfill, public libraries generally categorize their services by age groups and geographic location.
Common categories of services are:
1. Children's services
2. Young adult services
3. Adult services
4. Information services
5. Outreach services

Children's services
Public libraries generally have a separate area within their facilities for the children's collection and services. Children's collections include both fiction and non-fiction materials aimed at the pre-school to twelve-year olds. CD-ROM resources are also popular with young children. Typical programs for children include storytelling, puppet shows, and summer reading programs. Some public libraries have developed intergenerational programs where young adults or seniors read to children.

Young adult services
It can sometimes be challenging providing services to young adults (ages twelve through seventeen). This age group may use the library more for meeting others their own age than for the collection and services. However, many public libraries have successful young adult programs by offering programs such as babysitting clinics, crafts and booktalks. Public libraries also provide multiple copoies of paperback young adult novels, covering themes of interest to this age group.

Adult services
Adult services may include programs such as retirement planning seminars, book discussion groups, and cooking classes. Libraries serving a multicultural community may have programs in other languages than two official languages or make meeting rooms available for ethnic organizations to hold meetings or present lectures.
Public libraries have diverse collecftions for adults including large print and talking books for the visualy impaired and audiovisual materials, including how-to videos or popular TV series or movies on videos and audio CD-ROMs for loan. Many public libraries place a great emphasis on popular fiction collectons, which are often arranged on the shelves by genre, e.g. mystery, romance, science fiction and westerns. In multicultural communities, public librariesmay also collect materials in different languages and provide English as a second language (ESL) resources.

Information services
Public libraries offer the typical information services. They have reference collections with major directories, encyclopedias and other resources. Depending on the community, a public library might emphasize a particular subject area, such as business resources on genealogical or local history resources. Although not as prevalent as in academic libraries, public libraries provide bibliographic instruction. Public libraries also serve as a referral service to other resources, such as social service, health, and governmental agencies. They will often have these agencies' brochures available or list them in a directory or on a database. Another major information information service is reader's advisory. Many library patrons use the public library as a source of recreational reading and request books, which are similar to their favourite authors.

Outreach services
These services include bookmobiles, books-by mail, shut-in services where books are delivered to seniors' or persons with disabilities' homes. Lists of available materials are sent to individuals who are unable to visit the library. The individual submits his or her choice of titles and the materials are either mailed or delivered. Some public libraries create profiles for each individuals. Such profiles list the types of materials those individuals would like or dislike so that their public library would then ship appropriate titles, as they become available.

Issues and trends in the public library
Like academic libraries, public libraries are faced with declining budgets and increasing availability of reasources in a wide variety of formats. Public libraries must complete with other services providing recreational and informational activities. When a local video store hahs over fifty copies of the latest releases available for a low rental fee, why would a patron wish to be placed on a lengthy waiting list for the same item?
The Internet has had both a positive and negative impact on public libraries. For families who are unable to afford a home computer, the public library can provide access to an important information resource. For individuals who have access to the Internet at home, there may be a misperception that 'everything is available on the Internet', and they no longer use the public library as a result.
A disturbing trend in today's society is the growing number of homeless people and cutbacks in social services providing assistance to these individuals. The public library is often perceived as a refuge from the cold climate and a place for safe interactioin with others. This in itself poses no problems. Unfortunately, some individuals' behaviours are disrepective to other library patrons and to library staff. Public libraries have found it necessary to establish procedures to ensure that the disruptive behaviour is curtailed in a respectful, yet effective manner.

Public Library Services (Manitoba)
While this section focuses on the administration and delivery of rural and northern public library services in one province (Manitoba), it attempts to provide learners outside Manitoba with an instructive example by which they may compare and contrast the delivery of public library services in their own jurisdiction.
In its strategic plan, the Manitoba Public Library Advisory Board indicated that approximately 20% of Manitoba's population have no access to a library in their own community. Public Library Services (PLS), within the Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sports Department, provides services to public libraries throughout the entire province of Manitoba and to areas which have no public library.
PLS is located in Brandon and administers the Public Library Act as well as providing the following services:
1. Cataloguing for rural public libraries
2. Maintaining a union catalogue of Manitoba public library holdings
3. Document delivery services
4. Consultation services to library boards and library staff
5. Continuing education through workshops and an annual conference
6. Publications, such as a newsletter, Directory of Libraries in Manitoba and Manitoba Public Library Statistics
7. Collection support to established libraries, including audio-visual materials and French and multilingual materials
8. Services to areas without local libraries, including books by mail and a travelling library
Visit the PLS Website at:

Public Library Services Activity
1. Visit the National Library of Canada list of Public Library Websites at and select one or more of the sites listed below.
2. Try to answer the following:
Group 1: Calgary Public Library
Group 2: Ottawa Public Library
Group 3: Parry Sound Public Library
Group 4: Regina Public Library
Group 5: The Pas Public Library
Group 6: Vancouver Public Library (Central Branch)
Group 7: Wheatland Public Library and Learn Centre
Group 8: Winnipeg Public Library
3. Which of the eight potential roles do you think this library is trying to fulfill?
4. Is the Library Catalogue available over the World Wide Web?
5. Does the Web Site entice you to use the library? Why or why not?

School libraries
School libraries support the curriculum and programs of schools from kindergarten through grade twelve. In the United States and Canada, formal libraries were slow to develop in schools, as the majority of teaching was done from textbooks. There were often classroom resource materials, but few schools had a central library until the 1950s. As schools made use of a variety of educational resources in different formats, school libraries became known as media centres in some school divisions. Many schools provide services to not only the teachers and students, but also to school administrators and parents.
Teacher-librarians administer large school libraries. In some school divisions, there may be only one teacher-librarian who oversees the school library program for the entire division and the day to day operations of the individual school libraries are managed by library technicians.

Various standards for school libraries have existed since the 1920s. The American Library Association, the American Association of School Librarians and the Association of Educational Communications Technology created standards in 1945, 1960, 1969 and 1988. The latest standard is Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning (AASL/AECT, Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning, (Chicago: ALA, 1998)). This publication encourages that the school library media programs be integrated into the school curriculum.
In Manitoba, standards for school libraries are established by the Department of Manitoba Education, Training and Youth, Instructional Resources Unit (IRU). For access to existing standards for school libraries, visit the Department's Instructional Resources Library Publications Webpage: See especially the list of links to "IRU Guideline and Policy Documents" at the left of the Webpage given above.
For access to school library policies and documents from all across Canada, see the Web site to the "School Library Information Portal (SLiP): the Canadian connection to school library documents" at

In the School Library Policy Statement of Manitoba Education, Training and Youth, Instructional Resources Branch (Manitoba Education, Training and Youth School Library Policy Statement, (Winnipeg: Manitoba Education and Training, 1993), 5, states that a school library is one administered by a teacher-librarian and its objectives are:
1. To encourage the use of various learning resources
2. To assist in the implementation of the school curriculum
3. To motivate students to use materials and programs
4. To implement new technologies and programs
It also states that school library programs should be integrated with the school's instructional program to support resource-based learning, a model, which makes use of a wide range of print, non-print and human resources.

Basic services
School libraries offer similar services to public and academic libraries. Storytelling is part of an elementary school library program. Booktalking is part of a middle or high school library program. A major role of the school library is to educate students in research skills and in the use of library resources. The following services are highlighted:
1. Instruction in information literacy skills
2. Information services
3. Reserve readings
4. Curriculum support and development
5. Computer laboratory

Information literacy skills instruction
These skills include analyzing the best resources to use when beginning to search for a topic, finding the most up-to-date materials, locating relevant materials, and using a variety of media formats. It has been recognized that student who develop good information literacy skills in elementary school have a better chance of succeeding in future studies.
Students and teachers are taught how to use the card catalogue or OPAC. Students are also informed how the Dewey Decimal Classification System organizes materials on the shelves. In conjuction with the school curriculum, school library staff informs students and staff about resources available on specific units. For example, for a unit on dinosaurs, the library staff would alert the teacher of all the available resources and coordinate a library activity related to that topic. The teacher might give an assignment, which requires library staff assistance in instructing students on the use of a CD-ROM product specifically about dinosaurs, or a CD-ROM or print encyclopedia, or how to search the Internet. Sometimes agreements are made between schools to stagger the teaching of specific units, to allow school libraries to request additional materials from each other.

Information services
School libraries provide traditional information services to teachers and students. This includes quick reference and in-depth research. To provide this service, the school library staff makes use of both materials available within the library, or of outside community resources. In some communities, there is a close relationship between the school and public libraries, where programs are coordinated and resources shared. School libraries are more frequently relying on electronic resources to deliver information sources to their clientele. A frequent remark made by school library staff members that it is nearly impossible to encourage students to use the print version of an encyclopedia, when an CD-ROM version is available.

Reserve readings
As in academic libraries, school libraries place items required for projects on reserve to be either used only in the library or on a short-term loan. This allows many students access to limited resources on a specific topic.

Curriculum support and development
The school library staff provides support for the curriculum, by alerting teachers to new resources and giving guidance on appropriate resources for different grade levels. It also supports the curriculum by acquiring new materials in a variety of formats and discarding materials which are outdated. Teacher-librarians assist teachers in developing and implementing learning activities using various library media resources.

Computer laboratory
A recent development in school libraries is the placement of a computer laboratory next to or within the library facility. Library staff is expected to provide assistance to students using the computer equipment and software and to troubleshoot when technical problems arise. As so much of library resources are now electronic, this is a natural progression of services within a school media program. Many school libraries see this development as enhancing their visibility and importance within the school.

Issues and trends in school libraries
School libraries have the same dilemma as other libraries of how to acquire resources in a variety of media formats with limited funds. There is tremendous public pressure to acquire computer technology in schools, often to the detriment of providing equally important print and audiovisual resources.
Financial restraint has resulted in a reduction in the number of teacher-librarians within schools. Although library technicians and clerks are qualified to run the day to day operations of the library, they are not qualified teachers. Consequently, they may find themselves in awkward situations being asked to undertake duties which require specialized teacher training.
Many schools have heritage language programs, or are French immersion schools. This requires the school library to acquire materials in English and French as well as other languages. Some of these materials may be expensive or less easily acquired and lack cataloguing copy.

School libraries activity
Visit Peter Milbury's Network of School Librarian Web Pages at: and/or School Libraries on the Web at:
Choose at least four school sites where the school library has its own page and respond to the following questions:
1. Does the library's page tell you what the library does?
2. Does the library's page make you want to go to the library?
3. For whom do you think the page is written (e.g. students, teachers, parents, etc.)?
4. Did the library's page make you think that as a parent you would want your child to attend that school?

Special libraries
Special libraries have been defined by those which are not academic, public or school libraries. In the Special Libraries Association Bylaws, Article II: Membership, special libraries are defined as:
(a) A library or information center maintained by an individual, corporation, association, government agency, or any other group; or
(b) A specialized departmental collection within a library.
(Special Libraries Association, Bylaws, (Washington, DC.: Special Libraries Association, October 1995)
What distinguishes special libraries is the subject specialization of their collections and services, which are primarily designed to further the objectives of the parent organization. Services are tailored to the parent organization's needs and even to the individual patron's needs. In corporations, special libraries must be seen as contributing to the company's patrons. Many special libraries' collections have more periodicals than books. Others may have one format only, such as photos, slides or maps.
The reporting structure of special libraries vary greatly. The library may serve an individual department or may serve the entire organization. Some special libraries are placed within the administrative services division, others within a research and development division. What is a common trait of special libraries, is that the size of special libraries, is that the size of staff is usually small. Many special libraries are one-person libraries or have up to five staff members.

In 1996, the Special Libraries Association produced a document entitled Comptencies for Special Librarians of the 21st Century (Joanne Marshall, Comptencies for Special Librarians of the 21st Century, (Washington, DC: Special Libraries Association, 1996) It outlines both the professional and personal comptencies special librarians must have to effectively manage special libraries. Some of these comptencies are:
1. Expert knowlegde of and the ability to evaluate information resources
2. Specialized subject knowledge appropriate to the parent organization's business
3. Ability to assess information needs and to create and market value-added information services
4. Ability to use appropriate information technology to acquire, organize and distribute information
1. Commitment to service excellence
2. Effective communication skills
3. Team player
4. Commitment to lifelong learning
The Canadian Health Libraries Association has also produced standards for health libraries, which are linked to the accrediation process within hospitals.

The objective of a special library is to provide information and resources, which allow the parent organization to achieve its mission and goals. Special libraries staff must fit within the corporate culture of the parent organization, if they are to be seen as an essential service. Library staff must have a second knowledge of the parent organization's business and of the industry or field of the parent organization. Special libraries acquire materials in a variety of formats, but place great emphasis on the 'just-in-time' rather than the 'just in case' collection development model. Special librarians are often required to analyze and synthesize the information they acquire to present to their clientele with a manageable relevant material rather than a large number of sources which the patron must sort through.

Basic services
Special libraries offer many of the same basic services as academic libraries, but the emphasis may differ. With the advances in computer technology, many corporations have provided workstations to the majority of staff members and excpect them to conduct their own searches for information. Special librarians are now offering more bibliographic instruction or instruction in information literacy skills to assist staff members in searching specialized CD-ROM resources and to improve their skills in using the Internet.
Some major and unique services in special libraries are:
1. Current awareness services
2. Information services
3. Translations
4. Abstracting and indexing
5. Archives and records management

Current awareness services
Special libraries have traditionally assisted their clients in keeping abreast of news and developments in their fields. Recent issues of journals or the tables of contents of recent issues are routed to patrons. Each time an online database or CD-ROM version of a periodical index is updated, a library staff member performs a customized search to retrieve references to the latest articles on a particular topic. Special libraries use commercial services, such as CARL UnCover to hae recent articles faxed directly to the person's department or office.

Information services
In many ways, information services in a special library are identical to those in other libraries. However, the special librarian must have sound knowledge of resources in a specialized subject area. Information requests in special libraries may be so specific that little published information is available, requirng the special librarian to make considerable use of personal networks such as telephone calls or e-mails to outside specialists in the field. The need for creativity in finding relevant information makes reference work in special libraries both challenging and rewarding.

In certain fields, many excellent sources of information are not published in English. Special libraries are often requested to locate translations for these materials. Before an original translation is requested, library staff search for existing translations and request them through a document delivery service. In Canada, the Canada Institute for the Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI) is an excellent source for finding translations of scientific articles and reports.

Abstracting and indexing
Many special libraries have items in their collections which are not covered by major commercial indexes. They may be small newsletters, in-house publications or technical reports. To provide better access to these items, library staff will index them. Neither is it unusual for special librarians to produce special newsletters listing interesting new articles in the literature, complete with abstracts describing their content.

Archives and records management
In the 1980s, many special librarians took on the additional role of managing the companies' archives and records management departments. It was viewed as a natural fit for the corporate library as these services dealt with internal information. Archival materials and records are treated differently than library materials. Library staff may require further training to perform these duties. Some organizations prefer to donate their archives to a local public or university library or public archives where they are more readily available to social historians. For example, the United Grain Growers donated a large collection to the University of Manitoba while the Canadian Mental Health Association - Manitoba Division donated many of its archives to the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, a branch of the Manitoba Government Department of Culture, Heritage and Tourism.

Issues and trends in special libraries
Perhaps the most pressing issue facing special libraries recently has been the downsizing of their parent organizations. Many special libraries have had their budgets severly cut, or their entire services "outsourced" to a local academic library. When this occurs, library staff may be re-deployed to other departments within the organization or given severance or early retirement packages. Special librarians are aware of the need to actively market their services to ensure that the library is viewied as an essential service within the organization.
Special libraries are constantly seeking ways to streamline operations and to keep costs of maintaing the library's collection to a minimum. Consequently, cataloguing in special libraries is often outsourced, to allow the staff to concerntrate their efforts on information services. In this instance, the use of outsourceing is an opportunity for the library to expand rather than reduce services.
The reliance on electronic resources is as prevalent in special libraries as it is in other types of libraries. CD-ROM resources have reduced the costs of providing electronic access to periodical indexes. Special libraries are actively involved in developing the parent organization's Website or home pages on the World Wide Web, or the company's Intranet.

National libraries
National libraries are considered a type of special library. However, they are distinct enough to warrant their own section. National libraries are usually funded by the federal government and serve the entire nation. In Canada, two major national libraries are the National Library of Canada and the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technicial Information (CISTI). In the United States, there are the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine and the National Agriculture Library. Visit the Library of Congress Homepage at

National Library of Canada (NLC)
NLC was formed in 1953. It is located in Ottawa. Its mandate is to acquire, preserve and promote the published heritage of Canada. NLC also provides a leadership role in resource sharing among Canadian libraries and in promoting the development of library services in Canada. NLC's collection is the most comprehensive collection of materials about Canada and by Canadians in the world.

Basic services
The NLC offers twenty-four different servcies. The National Library's Website can be visited at

Some of the major services of the NLC are:
1. Access AMICUS
2. Canadiana (The National Bibliography)
3. Cataloguing Standards
4. Interlibrary Loan
5. Library Information Service
6. Union Catalogue

AMICUS, "the Canadian National Catalogue", is the National Library's oldest automated system. NLC began the development of AMICUS in 1991, and, by 1996, it replaced the older system, DOBIS. AMICUS contains over 25 million bibliographic records from 1,300 Canadian libraries. These records can now be searched via the World Wide Web at This service is now known as "AMICUS Web". To access the full version of AMICUS Web, you must obtain a free personal acount. This is an excellent source for cataloguing copy, bibliographic verifications and library locations for materials.

Canadiana is the National Bibliography listing both publications produced in Canada and those produced in other countries about subjects of interest to Canada or by Canadian authors. The list is available on microfiche, magnetic tape or by accessing AMICUS.

Cataloguing standards
The National Library assists in the development of Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, Repetoire vedettes-matiere, Canadian Subject Headings, Class FC for Canadian History and Class PS 8000 for Canadian Literature.

Interlibrary loan
This service produces bibliographies, indexing services and in-house databases about library and information science.

Union catalogue
Selected Canadian libraries report their holdings to the NLC. The National Library produces a union catalogue from these records. A major product avaialable from this service is Romulus, a CD-ROM product produced by the National Libraruy and CISTI. Romulus provides locations for periodicals in the social sciences, humanities and science and technology and for Canadian newspapers. This is an invaluable tool for dument delivery services within libraries.

National Library of Canada activity
Visit the NLC Website at
1. How many bibliographic records are in the NLC catalogue?
2. a) How many sound records does the NLC hold?
2. b) What types are they?
3. How many items are there in the Rare Book Collection?
4. a) Using the virtual tour on which floor is the Reference Services located?
4. b) What services are provided in this area?
5. How many copies of book or music publication must be deposited to the NLC under the Legal Deposit regulations, if more than 101 copies are published?
6. How many copies of musical sound recordings and multimedia kits must be deposited to the NLC?
7. How quickly after the release date of publications must they be deposited to the NLC?
8. Should the NLC be the first choice library for people living in Ottawa?
9. Can users browse the stacks at the NLC?
10. a) Using resAnet, determine how many titles written by Joan Routledge are held at the NLC.
10. b) What subject do they cover?
11. What different Access AMICUS services are there?
12. Can you download records from resAnet on the Web?
13. In what formats is Canadiana available in?

Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI)
Like NLC, CISTI is located in Ottawa. Its collection contains over 50,000 different serial titles, over 600,000 books, conference proceedings and technical reports and two million technical reports on microfiche. All materials are in the fields of science and technology.

Basic services
CISTI offers current awareness services, database services, information services, and document delivery services. For more information, visit CISTI's home page at

Current awareness services
CISTI offers three current awareness services: InfoAlert, SwetScan Alert and SwetScan. These services provide regular updated listings of current research, new publications and recent conferences in specific subject areas.

Database services
Database services include access to the National Library of Medicine's on-line search service MEDLARS, the National Library of Medicine's Docline service providing library locations for major health sciences journals, and Romulus.

Information services
CISTI receives thousands of requests each day. Its information services include searching for specific data, patent searches and referral to experts in the field. Information specialists at CISTI have expertise both in library and information science and a speciality in a field of science or technology.

Document delivery services
CISTI offers an extensive document delivery service. CISTI staff will verify article titles, search for translations of foreign language documents and provide articles, conference papers, technical reports or books in hardcopy, fax or electronic file formats.

CISTI activity
Visit the CISTI Website at
1. What is CISTI's mission?
2. Who are CISTI's clients?
3. What is the primary focus of CISTI's collection?
4. What current awareness services are there?
5. How many serial titles are in CISTI's collection?
6. How many are currently received?
7. How many books, conferences and technical reports are in CISTI's collection?
8. How many microfiche does CISTI have?
9. Are internet-accessible electronic journals listed in CISTI's catalogue?
10. Does CISTI have limits on the language materials should be in to be included in its collection?
11. Can everyone search the Table of Contents database?
12. Is the journal Library Trends available through CISTI source?
13. What is the cost of having tables of contents of journals sent to you?
14. What is the average cost per year of a customized search profile?
15. a) Using CISTI's catalogue, determine how many titles by P.N. Scharbach (also known as Peter Scharbach) are listed.
b) What is their subject matter?

Virtual libraries
Finally, we come to a relatively new library phenomenon: the "virtual library". What exactly does this mean? A. J. Harley defines a virtual library as '[o]ne where the user has the illusion of access to a much larger collection of information than is really present, immediately or simultaneously. In the ultimate virtual library, [the user] has access to universal knowledge, without delay, at his desk.' A. J. Harley, 'The Nationwide Provision and Use of Information.' Aslib/IIS/LA Joint Conference Proceedings. (London: Library Association, 1990)
D. Kaye Gapen states that '[t]he virtual library has been defined as the concept of remote access to the contents and services of libraries and other information resources, combining an on-site collection of current and heavily used materials in both print and electronic form with an electronic network which provides access to, and delivery from, external worldwide library and commercial information and knowledge sources." (D. Kaye Gapen. "The Virtual Library: Knowledge, Society and the Librarian." The Virtual Library: Visions and Realities, edited by Laverna M. Saunders. (Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1993) p.1

Issues and trends in virtual libraries
There are some important issues linked to the development of virtual libraries. Users now have higher expectations regarding the information which should be available to them and how quickly they should be able to access it. Greater emphasis on information in electronic format has resulted in new classifications of library personnel, such as Internet librarians, webmaster and others. Library workers are suffering from technostress more frequently and face serious ergonomic issues when working long hours at computer workstations.
In his article, "Building Earth's Largest Library", Steve Coffman foresees the library of the future modeled on the Internet bookstore He predicts that future library catalogues will include reviews of materials, tables of contents, photos of covers and that delivery mechanisms will be improved and document delivery greatly enhanced. "Building Earth's Largest Library" could potentially influence collection development, alter relationships between libraries and significantly change document delivery. The article is located at alongside "Earth's Largest Library: One Librarian's Plan of Action" by Mike Dahn at

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Introduction to libraries: Types of library catalogues

What is a library catalogue?
A library catalogue lists the materials held by the library. It also indicates where each item is located in the collection. Depending on the library, the description of items may be brief or very detailed. A library may or may not include every item in its catalogue. The library may produce a separate list or bibliographies of pamphlets, clippings or other special materials.

Functions of a library catalogue
All library catalogues, regardless of format, inform the library user:

  1. Whether the library owns a particular copy of a particular item.
  2. Which works by a specific author are in the collection.
  3. Which editions of a particular work the library owns.
  4. What materials are available on a particular subject.
  5. About the following details for each item:
    a. Author
    b. Title
    c. Imprint
    d. Collation (number of pages, whether the item has illustrations, etc.)
    e. Subject headings
    f. Location in the collection
More recently, library catalogues also refer patrons to outside sources, such as sites on the Internet, and allow the patron to link directly to that site from the library’s catalogue.

Types of library catalogues
The four types of library catalogues are listed below.
1. Card catalogue
2. Book catalogue
3. COM catalogue
4. On-line Public Access Catalogue (OPAC)

Access points
Library catalogues provide access to items by their author, title, subject, co-author, translator, illustrator, and by series title. Each author’s name, or title, etc. is often referred to as an access point or entry. The catalogue will also provide the call number for each item, so that it may be located on the shelf.
Card catalogue format
All catalogues contain bibliographic records, but may represent this information differently.

OPAC format
To see the bibliographic record of Introduction to library public services displayed in Red River College (RRC)’s Library’s on-line catalogue, go to RRC’s Library Website: Click on “Search for books, etc.” on the right-hand side of the page. The “Simple Search” screen will appear with a “Search for” box. Enter the title of the book, Introduction to library public services. Then in the “Search by” menu, select “Title keyword” and then click on “Search”. The search will generate only two titles, select the first one, which is the 1992 edition. Note that each part of the record is labelled, making it easy for the library client to understand what information is being provided. Notice how certain items are underlined. If you were to point your mouse and click on Evans, G. Edward, the catalogue would automatically display a listing of all the works the library has by authors with the surname Evans. This list of course includes all titles by G. Edward Evans that the library has in the collection. Similarly, if you were to point and click on the subject heading “Reference services (Libraries)”, the catalogue would display a list of all the items available in the library on that subject.
The wide variety of on-line catalogues available on the Internet can be explored through Libdex: The Library Index (formerly, webCATS: Library Catalogues on the World Wide Web), created by Peter Scott and Doug Macdonald of the University of Saskatchewan Libraries. Its Web site address is

Advantages and Disadvantages
Each of the four major types of catalogues has its advantages and disadvantages.

Card Catalogues
Until the early 1990s, this was the most familiar type of catalogue. The card catalogue is made up of 7.5 cm x 12.5 cm cards, each containing a full bibliographic record or part of a bibliographic record. These cards have a small hole in the middle of the card near the bottom edge. The cards are filed alphabetically by the entry in metal or wooden drawers in cabinets.
Each drawer has a rod extending the full length of the drawer. The rod is fed through the hole at the bottom of each card to keep them secure whenever a drawer is removed for consultation. The rod also serves the purpose of allowing filing to be double-checked for accuracy. When cards are first filed, they are placed above the rods. Another library staff member will then double-checked the filing. When all cards are filed correctly, the rod is removed to allow the new cards to fall into place and then returned to the drawer to secure the cards once more.
Card catalogues are often divided catalogues. This usually means that the catalogue is divided into two (or three) alphabetical sequences, one for authors and titles (or titles may have its own alphabetical sequence in a three-way divided catalogue) and one for subject headings. If a card catalogue is a dictionary catalogue, it is one alphabetical sequence with all entries inter-filed. Most libraries prefer divided catalogues.The fronts of the cabinet drawers have labels to indicate which alphabetical sequence is contained in each drawer, assisting the library user in quickly identifying the drawer they need to consult. In a divided catalogue, the labels may be colour-coded to identify whether a drawer belongs to the author/title or subject alphabetical sequence.
Although most libraries have now abandoned the card catalogue, we must not lose sight of the fact that it was a truly ingenious invention, serving the needs of library patrons admirably for many years. Unfortunately its disadvantages now outweigh its advantages in an electronic age.

Card catalogue advantages
1. Flexibility and currency: Staff time and size of collection growth permitting, cards for new materials can be added quickly and cards easily removed for those items no longer in the collection. The card catalogue is as up-to-date as your cataloguing and filing.
2. Ease of use: Library clients are comfortable with the alphabetical approach and can easily adapt to a divided catalogue. It is not much different from using either the white or yellow pages of a phone book. The white pages are for specific names of people and businesses (author/title drawers) and the yellow pages are for listings of companies in a particular type of business or people in a specific profession (subject drawers).
3. Availability: The likelihood of more than one person needing the same catalogue drawer at the same time is minimal. Unless, of course, every student in a class has been given exactly the same topic to research. This is often referred to as a queuing problem (i.e. everyone must wait in line).
4. Costs: In smaller libraries, the cost of maintaining a card catalogue is not overly expensive. Card stock is readily available and there are software programs that can produce catalogue cards on a computer printer. Libraries can now order prepared catalogue cards from their book supplier, which may only require the call number to be added.
Card catalogue disadvantages
1. Size: As the collection grows, so does the card catalogue. This takes up precious space which could be used to house more materials.
2. Human error: Even the most careful filer can make mistakes and these mistakes can be overlooked by someone checking for accuracy. A single card misfiled can lead to another card being misfiled. When large academic libraries had card catalogues, double-runs as they were fondly called, could become extremely large, resulting in hours of re-filing cards in their proper order. When a horrified gasp from a co-worker was heard as they were filing or checking it was known exactly what they had discovered.
3. Ease of use: Because of the way cards are filed, only one bibliographic item can be viewed at a time. Only the first word of a title or subject heading is accessible. If a patron cannot remember the first word of a title or does not know the exact subject heading, he or she may not find the item.
4. Costs: It takes time to file and pull cards and staff time is costly. When libraries have branches, it can be expensive to maintain many catalogues in many locations.
5. Flexibility and currency: Individual cards are not easily altered and may have to be reprinted. Before computer production of cards, many libraries purchased electric erasers to remove outdated headings on cards. Electric erasers were delicate instruments to use. If a person pressed too hard, the eraser would eat right through the card stock.

Book catalogues
A book catalogue lists bibliographic records in alphabetical order by various entries, or by classification number. There may be more than one record on each page. The pages are then bound into a cover, forming a book. Canadiana, a list of materials of Canadian origin or interest catalogued by the National Library, is an example of a book catalogue.

Book catalogue advantages
1. Ease of use: A book catalogue is like using a dictionary and requires little instruction in use. A whole page of entries can be scanned at once.
2. Size: It is compact in size, allowing it to be carried anywhere within the library.
3. Costs: The first copy is the most expensive to produce. If the book catalogue is not too large, many copies can be made and distributed throughout the library, to classrooms, offices or other branch libraries.

Book catalogue disadvantages
1. Ease of use: Unless multiple copies are made, there is a queuing problem. Only one person can use the catalogue at a time.
2. Flexibility and currency: Bibliographic records for new materials cannot be inserted. A whole new book catalogue must be produced or a supplement created. Supplements require the library patron to search in at least two alphabetic sequences for each item.
Microform catalogues
There are two types of microform catalogues. Some libraries have photographed each catalogue card in alphabetical sequence then transferred these images onto microform or microfiche. When bibliographic records were first available in electronic format, high-speed cameras would photograph screen images and these images would be transferred onto microform. These are known as COM or computer output microform catalogues.Microform catalogues have been quickly overtaken by on-line catalogues are now primarily used as a backup when an on-line system goes down.

Microform catalogue advantages
1. Ease of use: Like the book catalogue, many records can be scanned at one time. Indexes can provide easy access to a specific alphabetic sequence. Headings at the top of the fiche indicate the first entry on each fiche and each fiche is numbered sequentially for easy filing.
2. Size: Microfiche or microfilm takes up very little storage space and can store many records on one fiche or film.
3. Costs: Multiple copies are very inexpensive to produce.

Microform catalogue disadvantages
1. Ease of use: Microform is an extremely unpopular format. Equipment is required to use the catalogue. Fiche can be easily misfiled or placed one behind another in the holders. Library users are frustrated when the fiche they require is missing. Many copies of the catalogue and machines are required to avoid problems with queuing.
2. Flexibility and currency: New bibliographic records can not be inserted, nor can records for lost items be deleted. Like the book catalogue, the entire catalogue must be reproduced to incorporate changes. Most libraries choose to produce supplements.
3. Costs: The first copy of the microform catalogue is very expensive to produce. There are also maintenance costs involved with the equipment.

Integrated library systems
It is important to understand that an OPAC is merely a single module within an integrated library system. The major functions within a library are:

  • Acquisitions
  • Cataloguing
  • Circulation
  • Serials
  • Reference (online public access catalogue, access to electronic reference resources)
Integrated library systems definitions
An integrated library system automates library functions. Beverly Duval states that “An integrated library system is one whose functions use a single database made up of a collection of files. All the functions are fully interactive with one another and are kept automatically in synchronization. For example, if a book is checked out at circulation, that is simultaneously reflected in the OPAC”. (Duval, Beverly and Main, Linda. Automated library systems: a librarian’s guide and teaching manual. Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1992. p.5)

An integrated library system can talk or interface with external sources on the Internet such as vendors for library materials and cataloguing utilities where cataloguing records can be imported into the local library’s catalogue.You may also hear the term turnkey system. Duval defines this term as, “an automated library system which has been designed, programmed and tested by a vendor and then offered for sale to libraries, ready to be installed and operated. In theory, when the system is delivered and installed, all that is required is to plug it in and turn it on”. (Ibid, p. 258)

Most libraries do not develop their own systems, as there is a wide variety of systems on the market. However, note carefully Duval’s wording, “in theory”. It is not always that easy to install a new automated system and have it running smoothly right away. Library staff find that when they change another system (called “migrating” in the library world), all sorts of unforeseen issues arise. Many of them stem from inconsistent or unsophisticated use of MARC coding. Because turnkey systems often developed for a ‘standard library’, you may find that you will have to make compromises in your choice of system. Often features or complete modules may be missing or still in development. Until very recently, many integrated library systems targeted to school libraries did not have either acquisitions or serials modules.

Databases or files
An integrated library system has several databases or files. The bibliographic database contains a cataloguing record for each distinct item catalogued. The authority files show which headings for persons, corporate bodies, series or subjects have been used and cross-references those names or headings which have not been used. The item files contain records for each physical item. For example, there may be more than one copy of any Harry Potter title given its popularity. There would only be one bibliographic record for the title and two item records, one for each copy, giving the barcode and loan status for each copy. The funds database manages the financial records for purchasing materials. The vendor database contains the names and addresses for all the different publishers, bookstores, or jobbers used to purchase materials for a library. The patron database contains all the information pertaining to each registered patron.

How do these databases and modules relate to one another? The OPAC draws upon almost all the databases, as it will not only list which items are in the library, it will also let the patron know whether the item is on the shelf, signed out and when it is due, missing or lost. The circulation module uses both the patron database and the bibliographic database to link a particular patron to the record for each item he/she signs out. The cataloguing module makes use of the bibliographic database. You may be adding new records, deleting records or modifying existing records. It also uses the authority database to let you know that the author’s authorized heading is already in the catalogue, or that the author writes under more than one name. The cataloguing module interacts with the acquisitions module. As items are ordered, as much bibliographic information is entered so that it may be transferred into the cataloguing module when it is received. The acquisitions module makes use of the bibliographic, funds and vendor databases. The serials module makes use of the bibliographic and funds databases as well as holding information. As each new issue of a magazine is received, it is entered into the serials module. The computer is programmed to know when the next issue is expected and will alert library staff if an issue is overdue.

Before automating
The very first question to be asked before choosing a system is, “How can we improve services to our clients with a new automated system?” If you are automating for the first time, the following steps should be taken:
- Determine improvements in services required or desired
- Evaluate present procedures
- Determine set of tasks, how much time, how much staff
- Determine what type of control needed
- Determine how tasks interrelate

What to look for in an integrated library system
Ease of use:
Are the screens easy to read and understand? Is there online help? Are keystrokes or commands kept to a minimum?
Integration: Can modules be purchased individually or in phases to keep costs down? Do modules truly interact with one another?
Industry standards: Are cataloguing records in full MARC 21 format? Is there authority control? Is the system Z39.50 compatible? Is it a Windows-based system? Can the catalogue be accessed through the World Wide Web? Does the acquisitions module accept electronic data interchange (EDI) documents?
Speed of transactions: If a circulation transaction takes longer than 2-5 seconds, it is too slow. Record input should take only 10 seconds.
Customer support: Is toll-free telephone support provided? Are product guarantees given? Is there a surcharge for maintenance and support? How knowledgeable are the staff providing the customer support?
Training: Does the vendor require staff to attend training sessions? If so, how much time and how much does it cost?
Documentation: Are there manuals? Are they written in “computerese” or English?
Price: Is it within your budget range? Are you getting your money’s worth?Upgrade policy: What are the vendor’s plans for future development?
Multi-user capacity: How is the system networked? Is it reliable when many people are using the system at one time?
Portability: Can bibliographic records be exported should you wish to migrate to another system? Remember that many libraries change automated systems every three to five years if their vendor does not have an aggressive update policy.

Sources of information
There is a lot of information to be gathered before making an informed choice about selecting an integrated automated library system. Fortunately, there are many resources available, including promotional materials from the vendor, books, articles, reviews, exhibits at conferences and visits to other libraries.

Vendors provide a wide variety of brochures, demonstration packages, and testimonials. Most now have Websites which provide a great deal of information about their product.

The following books are helpful in learning about integrated library systems.
Breeding, Marshall. PC-based integrated library systems. Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1994.
Day, Theresa Thurman, Flanders, Bruce L. and Zuck, Gregory James. Automation for school libraries. Chicago: ALA, 1994.
Meghabghab, Dania Bilal. Automating media centers and small libraries: a microcomputer-based approach. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1997.

Journals with reviews
Computers in libraries
Information technology and libraries
Library hi-tech
Library software review
Library technology reports
Library journal
(the first issue in April has a review of various vendors) Integrated library system reports

Recent articles
To obtain recent articles on integrated library systems, consult the following Websites:
Integrated library system reports
Library automation resources: tools to help you choose a library management system

Sample timeline of an automation project
Compiled from the following article: Adams, Helen. Media magic: automating a K-12 library program in a rural district. Emergency librarian. 21 (May-June 1994): 24-29.

This article describes a project in rural central Wisconsin, in the Rosholt School District. There are two library resource centres, one for K-8, another for 9-12. The system has 650 students altogether.

1986 Committee set up to revise district Media Services Plan
1987 Long range plan presented to Education Board in January
1987 Plan adopted, collections weeded and retrospective conversion begun1987 Nine months spent to complete conversion of 11,000 unique items
1987/88 Vendor research begun
1988 Networked circulation system installed in August
1988 Barcoding in August and September (24 student, community, faculty and administrative volunteers assist)
1990 Networked union catalogue component added (one week to install network, library automation software, build indexes, do backups, run diagnostics, train staff)
1990 Teachers trained at all day open-house, three weeks for student training
1992 New Technology Committee set up to develop comprehensive technology plan (four months taken to produce plan)
1992/93 Implementation of plan (results have included enlarging and enhancing resource centres with the addition of computer labs)
1993 Evaluation of plan submitted to Board in April
1993 CD-ROM resources networked
1994 Modem access to public library catalogue provided in January
1994 Internet access given by University in the fall

Vendors activity
Visit the Library Technology Guides vendor Website at: Search for the following popular vendors by entering their names in the second box: CASPR, Follett Software, Hardcover Software, Kelowna Software, The Library Corporation, SIRS Mandarin Inc. and Winnebago Software. In each case, click on the link to their respective Websites to help answer the following questions:
1. Which modules does this system have: acquisitions, cataloguing, circulation, OPAC, serials, and/or A/V bookings?
2. Does this company seem to be marketing their system to a specific type(s) of library(-ies)?
3. Does this system accept MARC (machine-readable cataloguing)?
4. Does the company provide customer support? If yes, does this include a toll-free helpline?
5. Does the company provide training?
6. Can you place your catalogue on the Web with this system?
7. Does this system support Z39.50 protocol?
8. Is a demo of the system available?
9. Does the vendor provide references of other libraries already using its system?

On-line public access catalogues
As computer technology advances and the price of computer hardware and software decreases, more libraries are converting their catalogues to On-line Public Access Catalogues (OPACs).

Note that many libraries, including those in Third World countries, are providing access to their collections with extremely sophisticated systems using the latest graphical user interface (GUI) technology. Library clients are becoming increasingly comfortable with using computers to search for information and have very high expectations of computers’ abilities.

Looking at bibliographic records in electronic format
In an on-line catalogue, bibliographic records are stored in an electronic database. Each element of a bibliographic record is entered into a separate field. Red River College’s library catalogue can be accessed at and then click on the Search for Books, etc. link.
Search for RRC’s bibliographic record of Carol Shield’s Stone diaries. Carol Shields’ name is the main author field. Stone diaries is in the title field. Each record has a unique record number. This record’s number is 34661, only visible in the “Staff View” screen as MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloguing) field 001. View this MARC record by clicking on the “Staff View (MARC)” button, which appears on the display screen. When a person at the OPAC keys in a request for the author Carol Shields, the computer does not search through every single record for her name. It searches an author index instead. When it finds an index entry for Carol Shields, there will be a list of record numbers for items with her name in the author field. The computer would then respond to the person at the terminal by either listing the actual bibliographic records found (usually in an abbreviated format) or with the number of items found and ask the person if they wish to have them displayed. Searching indexes rather than each entire record enables the computer to respond quickly to a request. Early on-line catalogues were cumbersome to use, requiring users to learn special commands for finding an author or subject heading (e.g. A= or AU= or browse au). GUI-based on-line catalogues now have easy to understand icons. Using a mouse, a user merely has to move a pointer to the icon desired and click for a search by author, title or subject. Searches can now be performed specifying date ranges, media format, publication language, or ISBN number. The combinations seem endless.

Do a keyword search for the RRC Library record for Introduction to library public services (5th edition, 1992) by using only this part of the title, “library public services”. By searching this way, find that this particular record comes up within the top 10 of over 5000 records. Remember how a disadvantage of the card catalogue was that the patron had to know the first word of the title? In this search the word introduction was not entered at all. The computer was able to search several indexes for the occurrence of any of the three words, library, public, or services and rank the records, which contained all three words with the highest relevance.

Search for The stone diaries by entering the author’s name “Carol Shields” as keywords. As a keyword search, it is not important that the author is entered as “Carol Shields” rather than “Shields, Carol”. The computer looked for either of those words in various indexes and ranked those records, which had both, with the highest relevance.
Search for The Time manager by limiting to a particular format. Before searching the keywords, “time management”, set the limit to videorecording. Therefore, when the computer searches for “time management” it only retrieves records for videorecordings containing those two words.That is not to say that on-line catalogues are easy to create and maintain.
Search again for the MARC record of The Stone diaries. Note how it has a much more complex look than the non-MARC display. It is no wonder that in RRC’s OPAC, MARC records are only accessible through the “Staff View”. Even though some systems have created user-friendly screens for entering cataloguing data, a sound knowledge of basic MARC coding is required to effectively catalogue library materials in an on-line catalogue.

On-line public access catalogue advantages
Like any other type of catalogue OPACs have their advantages and disadvantages.
1. Flexibility and currency: OPACs are easily updated. As soon as items are entered, they can be indexed to become accessible. Some systems index new items the moment they are entered. Records are also easily removed from the database.
2. Ease of use: New GUI technology makes OPACs very user-friendly. OPACs offer sophisticated methods of searching for materials. Users can combine terms such as “Shields” in the author field and “diaries” in the title field, limit searches to a particular date range or format. If the OPAC is networked, terminals can be installed throughout the school, university, public library or branches of a library, making catalogues accessible from individual’s desktops. Regional library systems can now access each other’s catalogues. Some libraries offer access to their catalogues over phone lines or the Internet. Clients can search the catalogue from the comfort of their own home.
3. Size: Terminals can take up much less space than bulky card catalogues. Patrons do not have to be physically in the building to access the library’s catalogue.

On-line public access catalogue disadvantages
1. Ease of use: Not all OPAC user interfaces are created equal. Some are menu-driven, intuitive and easy to use. Others may not be user-friendly at all. It would then require staff time to train library patrons. Several terminals would be necessary to avoid line ups. Some form of backup is needed if the system goes down, or the library catalogue will be unavailable. Complicated search strategy options can lead to too many or too few results. This can easily waste users’ time.
2. Costs: Depending on the size of the library, the type of computer hardware, software and networking cable required plus the retrospective conversion of existing bibliographic records in the library’s manual catalogue, the cost can be extremely high. In addition, existing libraries would need to undergo a ruthless weeding of their collection before the retrospective conversion can begin. However, small libraries can now afford microcomputers, which have high capacity memories, making on-line catalogues within their financial reach.
3. Design: If the system is poorly designed, it may require undue switching back and forth between screens to see detailed records. This can be tedious and frustrating for the user.
Classification schemes and call numbers

In ancient times, libraries arranged clay tablets by subject. Classification schemes allow libraries to shelve like materials together. This process is called collocation. Libraries add author numbers, book numbers or cutter numbers to classification numbers to provide a unique call number, identifying where each item is shelved. This way the patron knows the location of the item.

To better understand the concept of collocation, think for a moment how library users might wish to find information about dogs. One person may want material on dogs in general. Another individual might be interested in a specific breed of dogs, such as the basset hound. A well-designed classification scheme would arrange materials about dogs on the shelves in a logical and orderly manner. All books about dogs would be in the same major class and subdivision. The subdivision would have further divisions. Books about dogs could be shelved in the following order:
  1. Books about dogs in general
  2. Books about training dogs
  3. Books about specific breeds of dogs:
    a. Books about Alaskan malamutes
    b. Books about basset hounds
    c. Books about beagles
    d. Books about huskies
    e. Books about Labrador retrievers, etc.
Classification schemes break down the total body of human knowledge into major categories or classes. Within each class, there may be smaller categories, or subdivisions. Classes and subdivisions are assigned either numbers or letters to identify them. This way, all materials on a particular subject will have the same number or letter. Most schemes have the same major classes of knowledge, such as history, science, literature and music.

There are two major classification schemes used in libraries, the Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC or Dewey) and the Library of Congress Classification System (LC). As a rule, public and school libraries use Dewey and academic and research libraries use LC. The Dewey Decimal Classification System uses numbers for classes and subdivisions. The Library of Congress Classification System uses a combination of letters and numbers.

Dewey Decimal Classification System
The U.S. librarian, educator and social reformer, Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) divided the entire body of human knowledge into ten categories using Arabic numbers to represent each class. Major classes were further divided into ten subcategories and subdivisions were further divided by using decimal places. Consequently, his system is called a decimal classification system and was originally published in 1876. As knowledge continues to grow and expand, Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) continues to grow and expand along with it. For more information about Dewey, the system and its creator, visit:

Major classes have numerals such as 100, 200, 300, etc. up to 900. The class represented by 600 is technology or applied sciences. History is represented by 900. North American history is assigned 970. Access the Dewey Decimal Classification System Website at:

Dewey Decimal Classification System Examples
If a library has many books on a broad topic, DDC allows each aspect of that topic to be represented by a specific number by adding a decimal point and more numerals.
Example: A book on electronic engineering: 621.38
A book on cellular telephones: 621.38456
DDC numbers are arranged in decimal order on the shelves (e.g. a book with 621.382 is shelved before one with 621.39).

If a library has more than one book on the same topic, an author number or Cutter number or book number is added. These can be the first three letters of an author’s surname, or a combination of one letter and three numbers rep resenting a specific surname as assigned by the Cutter-Sanborn Three Figure Author Table.
Example: 512 Dickensen, D. Introduction to algebra D557i 512 Dickensen, D. Principles of algebra D557p

If the library has several different sections where items may be found, a location code can be added to guide the library client to the correct location of a book. The most common examples of different areas in a library are the reference section and children’s collection.
If the work on electronic engineering was a major handbook and needed to be in the reference section, the call number would read:
R Ref
621.3 or 621.38

Standard location abbreviations are:R or Ref = Reference, J = Juvenile, LP = Large print, AV = Audio visual

Library of Congress classification system
Instead of numerals, the Library of Congress (LC) uses upper case letters to represent major classes of knowledge. For example, the field of Geography is assigned the letter G. Subclasses are assigned two upper class letters. The subclass GB represents the field of physical geography. Subdivisions of major classes are assigned Arabic numerals. A very specific subdivision may also have a decimal extension.
Explore the Library of Congress Classification outline at:

Library of Congress classification system examples
A Canadian cookbook by Pat Routledge published in 1990, would have the following call number:
TX Class for “home economics”
715.6 Subdivision for “cookbooks…” and a .6 decimal for “Canadian”
.R68 Book number for “Routledge”

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Introduction to Libraries: Basic library functions

Although there are different types of libraries, they all perform the same basic functions to effectively provide information and services to their clients.

Types of Libraries
Early libraries were often part of religious institutions. Many private libraries and royal libraries also existed in ancient times. Libraries are now divided into four major types:

  1. Academic,
  2. Public,
  3. School, and
  4. Special
In addition, there is an emerging fifth type of library, the "virtual" or "electronic library". This type of library is not yet "officially" included in this list of libraries because it is so new that there is not yet a consensus in the library field as to what definitely constitutes a "virtual library". "Time will tell", as the saying goes.

Although the infomation needs of a college student writing a term paper is quite different from those of a public library patron wanting a book on effective parenting, all types of libraries serve the needs of their clientele by performing the same basic library functions.

Public services

Public services are those activities in which library staff have direct contact with library users. Library patrons judge the quality of library services by their experiences with public services staff members. In customer service literature, these experiences are known as "moments of truth". If a library patron has a bad experience he or she may never use the library again.

Major public service activities include:

1. Circulation
2. Information Services (Reference work)
3. Document Delivery (Interlibrary loan)
4. Library Promotion

There are four major tasks in circulation:

1. Registering new borrowers
2. Charging out or renewing items
3. Discharging items

4. Returning items to their proper location.

Registering new borrowers
To register a new borrower, library staff have to determine if the individual is permitted to borrow library materials or if the individual has to pay a fee for borrowing privileges. The table below identifies typical categories of patrons with borrowing privileges in the four types of libraries. Borrower registration is essential, as it allows the library to keep records of which items are signed out to each borrower.

Registering new borrowers
To register a borrower, library staff must determine if the individual is permitted to borrow library materials or if the individual has to pay a fee for borrowing privileges. The table below identifies typical categories of patrons with borrowing privileges in the four types of libraries.

Type of library

Patrons with borrowing privileges


Students, faculty, non-academic and administrative staff, alumni; General public often pay for a fee for borrowing privileges


All residents of the community; Residents of other communities may have to pay a fee to borrow materialis


Students, teachers, administration, staff; Some schools also allows parents, students from other schools and the general public to borrow


Most often only employees of the company or institution; Some government libraries or libraries in social services agencies or societies lend to the general public

Charging out items or renewing items
When an item is charged out, a record is created linking the borrower's record to the item's record and a due date is assigned. Accuracy is essential in a circulation transaction. Items, which are charged out incorrectly can result in an individual being charged overdue fines for items never borrowed. Items are renewed when the due date is extended. Speed is important. Labour-intensive circulation systems cause line-ups at the desk and frustrated library patrons.

Discharging items
When items are returned, the link between the borrower's record to the item's record must be cancelled. This is called discharging. Again, accuracy is important to avoid overdue fines for materials, which have been returned and are on the shelf.

Returning items to their proper location
This activity is commonly called shelving. Today's libraries have many different forms of materials. Not all items are placed on shelves. Speed and accuracy are important in undertaking this task. An item shelved or filed incorrectly is a missing item in the library patron's eyes. Many patrons may not take the time to ask if an item has been returned recently or request library staff to search for an item not on the shelf. Consequently, discharged materials not returned to their proper location quickly may also be considered missing.

Information services
Formerly called "Reference work", information services include the following activities:
1. Answering directional questions
2. Information retrieval
a) Ready or quick reference
b) In-depth research
c) Information referral
3. Readers' advisory

When a library user asks where the photocopiers are, he or she is asking a directional question. The same attention and care should be given in answering a directional question as for an in-depth research request. If library staff are perceived as being friendly and helpful, the individual will be more likely to seek the staff's assistance in finding information.

Ready or quick reference
When a question can be answered by quickly consulting such reference works as a dictionary, encyclopedia or directory, it is a ready or quick reference questions. Such questions normally seek simple, straightforward answers based on factual information that can be easily found or verified in an appropriate reference work. The challenge for the library worker is to know which reference tool would provide the most efficient and direct means to find the information. As the great British lexicographer, Samuel Johnson, is attributed to say, "The importance of information is on knowing where to find it".
The following questions fall into the category of "quick" or "ready" reference question.
When did Elvis Presley die? (Some may not consider this a quick reference question!)
Who was Prime Minister of Canada in 1900?

In-depth research
Some requests require an extensive search of many different sources and media formats. Assisting someone in locating material on the portrayal of women in advertising would require searching for books, periodical articles, advertising in magazines and newspapers held in the library, and video resources. Library staff also use periodical indexes on CD-ROM and remote databases to assist them in conducting in-depth research.

Information referral
When information is not available in the library, patrons need to be referred to other resources. This may be another library, an association or social agency. For example, if a person needed information about a rare disease, a support group would be an excellent source of information. To the patron, it does not matter that the library did not have the information, if he or she is given an alternate resource. Libraries do well not to let patrons leave empty-handed and unsatisfied. To the extent that "perception is everything" this practice of at least giving something to patrons to go on allows patrons to go on allows patrons to see that they can depend on the library as an effective source of information.

Reader's advisory
This is primarily a public library service. Often library staff will be asked to recommend other books similar to those written by Len Deighten or if there are any new Canadian mystery writers. There are special reference tools to assist library staff in answering this type of request.

Document delivery
Formerly known as "interlibrary loan", document delivery is a rapidly growing service in all types of libraries. If an item is not available in the library, document delivery staff determine which library has the item and request it form that library on an interlibrary loan. As library budgets shrink and information resources explode in number, it is essential to share resources with other libraries and to seek out alternate methods of acquiring information. Commercial services are now available, which offer, for a fee, guaranteed delivery of copies of periodical articles within 24 hours or less. When a patron considers time is more important than money and is willing to pay, libraries will order from these commercial suppliers. Because these items are not received from another library, many interlibrary loan services are now called document delivery services.

Library promotion
In the current climate of deficit reduction and fiscal restraint, it is more important than ever to promote library services and maintain positive relationships with library clientele, granting agencies and parent organizations. The library must be viewed as an essential service in the community, schools, universities, colleges, and in business or it may face closure.
There are many ways to promote the library. The first and foremost is to constantly strive to give the best service possible to clients. Satisfied customers are repeat customers and can be the library's best allies when budget cuts arise. Libraries also need to market their services to ensure that the public is aware of the wealth of services libraries have to offer.
Libraries need to sponsor programs to attract new clients and encourage regular patrons to come more often. Libraries are increasingly involved in fundraising campaigns. It is not uncommon for libraries to sell T-shirts, coffee mugs and other promotional items.
Recently, the Canadian Library Association has endorsed a program called Library Advocacy Now! Friends of Libraries, library trustees and library staff members across Canada are receiving advocacy training. This involves learning how to promote public support of libraries throughout the use of the media, lobbying governments and awareness campaigns.

Technical Services
If you were to follow the steps from ordering library materials to their being available to the public, most technical services activities would be included. These are:
1. Collection Development
2. Acquisitions
3. Cataloguing
4. Processing

Collection Development
Also known as Selection, collection development is the process of determining which materials to acquire within a budget. Libraries have collection development policies to assist them in allocating scarce resources. The policy outlines what emphasis should be placed on different media, subject areas, audience level and fiction. It also states when multiple copies should be purchased, the criteria used to weed materials out of the collection (e.g. accuracy, currency, circulation, condition, etc.), and how to handle gifts or controversial materials. These policies are invaluable when individuals request the removal of items from the collection on moral or religious grounds. A well-written and detailed policty combined with an established procedure for handling challenged materials ensures the issue will be handled calmly and professionally.

Once materials are selected, they are are then acquired or purchased. There are many activities in acquisitions.
1. Bibliographic verification (author, title, publisher, price)
2. Checking against library's catalogue (to avoid duplication)
3. Choosing supplier (which company offers best price)
4. Preparing and sending orders (orders many now be sent electronically)
5. Maintaining order files (to keep track of what's ordered, received)
6. Maintaining accounts (to ensure proper billing and payment, staying within budget)
7. Receiving items (ensuring proper items received, back orders)
8. Paying invoices

It is important to keep accurate and up-to-date records in acquisitions. No library wishes to be under or over budget.

Cataloguing is the process of creating bibliographic records for items in the library's collection. Years ago, it was a very labour-intensive process. The advances in computer technology have allowed libraries to easily acquire bibliographic records from commercial sources and other libraries. To further reduce staff costs, many libraries now outsource their cataloguing. Outsourcing is contracting an outside agency to do the cataloguing for the library. However, libraries still catalogue items which, are locally produced and are unlikely to have been previously catalogued by another library.

Another major responsibility in cataloguing is maintaining the library's catalogue. Bibliographic records for missing items or items withdrawn from the collection must be removed from the catalogue.

After an item is catalogued, it must be prepared for use. Call number and barcode labels need to be affixed. Items need to be stamped with the library's name. Items also require protective measures. Book jackets are laminated or covered with a plastic cover. Audiovisual materials may need special containers. After prolonged use, some materials may need repairing. Most libraries perform only minor repairs, such as taping torn pages, tipping in loose pages, lor reinforcing the hignes and spine with binding tape.

Specials maintenance
Periodicals, because they are received on an ongoing basis, require special attention. As each issue is received, it must be recorded in a Kardex file or in an on-line serials management system. The date each issue is received is also recorded. This assists staff in predicting when the next issue should arrive. Much time is spent claiming issue swhich are late arriving and in processing invoices and in subscription renewal. Special and academic libraries generally have very large periodical collections. After a complete volume has been received, the issuesmay be prepared for binding. Many libraries buy complete volumes of periodicals in a microform format rather than bind them, to save space.

Interrelationships between services
small libraries, the distincition between public services and technical services are not as great as in large libraries. In a one-person library that person performs all the tasks and easily recognizes how all the activities contribute to effective service.
In larger libraries it is essential that staff members understand how their work interrelates with others. If circulation staff is slow in returning materials to the shelves, this has a serious impact on the reference staff's ability to provide quality service. If cataloguing staff is slow in removing records for missing or discarded items from the catalogue, circulation or reference staff can spend far too much time looking for an item which is no longer in the collection.