From An Acorn To An Oak Tree Ps. 92:12


by: Dr. Stephen A. Osiobe

The Library is the repository of the collective wisdom of mankind through the ages in print, graphic and electronic formats. There are several types of libraries, viz.: School Library, Public Library, College Library, Research Library, Legislative Library, University Library and National Library.  In all cases the type of library is defined to a very large extent by the intended user audience (clientele) and its mandate (purpose and function).


Public Library:-  Is a library that provides information resources for the generality of people in that society and covers the interest needs of a wide range of people from the very learned to the one with little or no education. Of primary importance in its collection is the history and culture of the people. Leisure, entertainment and self learning materials to acquire skills are also given prominence in public libraries, as well as subject and specialized materials.  Public library service is free and it helps to sustain an enlightened citizenry. An essential role of the public library is to support lifelong learning in society. 


School Library:- Is a library established to support learning in a primary or secondary school and is usually located within the school promises. The collection has basic general interest books cutting across the curriculum and subjects taught in the school. The primary purpose of school library is to stimulate learning and interest in inquisitive search for information and knowledge in a knowledge based society at an early age. Funding is usually provided by the school or government, if it is a public school. In some cases, funding is extended by government agencies to private school libraries. 


College Library:- A college Library is the library of non-degree awarding tertiary institution, such as a College of Education, a Community College, a Monotechnic or a Polytechnic. The mandate of a college library is to provide information and learning materials to support the academic program of the college. The College Library Board or Committee regulates the activities and operation of the College Library and it is under the direct control of the College Provost.


Legislative library:- This is a library that supports the duties of the legislative arm of government. It may be a state assembly or a national assembly. Its purpose is to ensure that all legislative bills, edicts and operations of the assembly are well preserved and organized for easy retrieval and use. It also provides assembly members, relevant informational materials on legislative issues, legal framework, governance, social, economic and environmental matters relevant to sustainable growth and development of the state. 


Research Library:- This is a specialized library that serves the research interest of a research institute or body. It may specialize in one or more areas of interest, depending on the areas of activities of the institution or body it serves.  A research library for a Society of Early Childhood Development will focus on information sources that deal with specific areas of early childhood development. A Cocoa Research Institute library will focus on all aspects of cocoa plant from germination, growth, species, disease, storage and processing.


National library: - This is the nations’ library and it holds all intellectual output of the nation as well as information on the country and its people from outside sources. The national library is the national depository library for the nation and copies of all publications in the country are usually deposited in it. The number of copies deposited varies from country to country, depending on the extant law governing book deposit in the country.


University Library: - The university library constitutes the heart of the university as an academic body. It represents what the university stands for in teaching, learning, research and community service. It provides information resources in different formats to support the academic and social programs of the university.


In today’s digital world, electronic equipment and resources are playing prominent roles in the way information is stored, organized and dispersed to users. A lot of emphasis is placed on electronic sources today, because very large data and information can be stored in electronic databases which can be utilized through various access points, almost at the users discretion from remote locations. Time and space have shrunk tremendously in access to information as a result of modern technology.


Beside the above libraries, there are subject libraries, Faculty Libraries and other forms of specialized libraries. So, to a very large extent, the range of libraries in society, are as many as the interest groups and focus of information demand, by individuals that coalesce to form a specific body.