In its most general sense a library
is a collection of books
and other reference materials. The term is usually used to refer to a public, school, or institutional library. Such a library is open to consultation by the public, students, or patrons or employees of an institution, and often features a reference desk
. Many libraries (called lending libraries) make at least some of their books available for borrowing, so readers can use them at home, over a period of days or weeks.
As well as books, many libraries are now repositories and/or access points for other media, such as maps
, audio tapes
's, video tapes
Etymology of the word
The word is derived from Latin liber, which means "book." Derivations from the Greek Bibliotheke (from Biblos, book) are used in at least German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Polish and Portuguese. Other languages, such as Icelandic, Finnish, and Estonian, use words that derive from their own words for book (Bokasafn, Kirjasto, and Raamatukogu, respectively).
Basic tasks in library management include the planning of acquisition (which materials should we acquire?), library classification, preservation of materials (especially rare and fragile materials such as manuscripts), borrowing, and developing and administering library computer systems. More long-term issues include the planning of the construction of new libraries or extensions to existing ones.
Some famous libraries
Most of the countries of the world have their own National Libraries:
- The St. Phillips Church Parsonage Provincial Library, established in 1698 in Charleston, South Carolina, was the first public lending library in the American Colonies.
- Boston Public Library, an early public lending library in America, was established in 1848.
- Haskell Free Library and Opera House, "The only library in America with no books".
Some libraries that specialize in one subject:
See also Digital library, Library and Information Science, Literature, Public library, Catalog
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