A library is an organized collection of resources made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. It provides physical or digital access to material, and may be a physical building or room, or a virtual space, or both. A library's collection can include books, periodicals, newspapers, manuscripts, films, maps, prints, documents, microform, CDs, cassettes, videotapes, DVDs, e-books, audio books, databases, and other formats. Libraries range in size from a few shelves of books to several million items.
A library is organized for use and maintained by a public body, an institution, a corporation, or a private individual. Public and institutional collections and services may be intended for use by people who choose not to — or cannot afford to — purchase an extensive collection themselves, who need material no individual can reasonably be expected to have, or who require professional assistance with their research. In addition to providing materials, libraries also provide the services of librarians who are experts at finding and organizing information and at interpreting information needs. Libraries often provide quiet areas for studying, and they also often offer common areas to facilitate group study and collaboration. Libraries often provide public facilities for access to their electronic resources and the Internet. Modern libraries are increasingly being redefined as places to get unrestricted access to information in many formats and from many sources. They are extending services beyond the physical walls of a building, by providing material accessible by electronic means, and by providing the assistance of librarians in navigating and analyzing very large amounts of information with a variety of digital tools.
The UNESCO defines Libraries which, irrespective of their title, are responsible for: 1. Acquiring and conserving copies of all significant publications published in the country; 2. Functioning as a 'depository' library, whether by law or under other arrangements.
And performs the following functions also:
1. producing a national bibliography;
2. holding and keeping up to date a large and representative collection of foreign literature, including books about the country; 3. acting as a national bibliographical information centre; 4. compiling union catalogues;
5. Publishing the retrospective national bibliography.
This definition states that libraries which may be called 'national' but whose functions do not correspond to the above definitions should not be placed in the 'national libraries' category.
Types of Libraries
Broadly there are four types of libraries:
1. Public Library
2. Academic Library : It can be categorized into three types) a. School Library
b. College Library
c. University Library
3. Special Library ; and
4. National Library
A social institution established by law, financed by public fund, open for all without any discrimination, for general and free diffusion of knowledge and information in the community. It is the obligation of government to establish a public library system throughout the country at national, state and local levels. Besides this, the rural and suburban areas should also be covered by branch and mobile libraries.
According to UNESCO Public Library Manifesto 1949 which was revised in 1972, a public library is- * established under the “clear mandate of law”;
* maintained wholly from “public fund”;
* levies no “direct charge” (fees) from its users for any of its services; * open “for free and equal “ use by all members of the community irrespective of race, colour, caste, creed, religion, age, sex, nationality, language, status or level of educational attainments; * the local gateway to knowledge, provides a basic condition for lifelong learning, independent decision making and cultural development of the individual and social groups; *...