AskDefine | Define library

Dictionary Definition

library

Noun

1 a room where books are kept; "they had brandy in the library"
2 a collection of literary documents or records kept for reference or borrowing
3 a depository built to contain books and other materials for reading and study [syn: depository library]
4 (computing) a collection of standard programs and subroutines that are stored and available for immediate use [syn: program library, subroutine library]
5 a building that houses a collection of books and other materials

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From librarie, from librairie.

Pronunciation

  • UK [ˈlaɪbɹəɹi], US [ˈlaɪbɹɛɹi]
  • UK /"laIbr@ri/, US /"laIbrEri/

Noun

  1. An institution which holds books and/or other forms of stored information for use by certain people. It is usual, but not a defining feature of a library, for it to be housed in rooms of a building, to lend items of its collection to members either with or without payment, and to provide various other services for its community of users.
  2. A collection of books or other forms of stored information. An individual may refer to his collection of books and other items as his library.
  3. record library
  4. A collection of subprograms used to develop software.

Translations

institution which holds books
personal collection of books
collection of subprograms

See also

Extensive Definition

For other uses, see Library (disambiguation).
In Persia many libraries were established by the Zoroastrian elite and the Persian Kings. Among the first ones was a royal library in Isfahan. One of the most important public libraries established around 667 AD in south-western Iran was the Library of Gundishapur. It was a part of a bigger scientific complex located at the Academy of Gundishapur.
In the West, the first public libraries were established under the Roman Empire as each succeeding emperor strove to open one or many which outshone that of his predecessor. Unlike the Greek libraries, readers had direct access to the scrolls, which were kept on shelves built into the walls of a large room. Reading or copying was normally done in the room itself. The surviving records give only a few instances of lending features. As a rule Roman public libraries were bilingual: they had a Latin room and a Greek room. Most of the large Roman baths were also cultural centers, built from the start with a library, with the usual two room arrangement for Greek and Latin texts.
In the sixth century, at the very close of the Classical period, the great libraries of the Mediterranean world remained those of Constantinople and Alexandria. Cassiodorus, minister to Theodoric, established a monastery at Vivarium in the heel of Italy with a library where he attempted to bring Greek learning to Latin readers and preserve texts both sacred and secular for future generations. As its unofficial librarian, Cassiodorus not only collected as many manuscripts as he could, he also wrote treatises aimed at instructing his monks in the proper uses of reading and methods for copying texts accurately. In the end, however, the library at Vivarium was dispersed and lost within a century.
Elsewhere in the Early Middle Ages, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and before the rise of the large Western Christian monastery libraries beginning at Montecassino, libraries were found in scattered places in the Christian Middle East. Upon the rise of Islam, libraries in newly Islamic lands knew a brief period of expansion in the Middle East, North Africa, Sicily and Spain. Like the Christian libraries, they mostly contained books which were made of paper, and took a codex or modern form instead of scrolls; they could be found in mosques, private homes, and universities. In Aleppo, for example the largest and probably the oldest mosque library, the Sufiya, located at the city's Grand Umayyad Mosque, contained a large book collection of which 10 000 volumes were reportedly bequeathed by the city's most famous ruler, Prince Sayf al-Dawla. Some mosques sponsored public libraries. Ibn al-Nadim's bibliography Fihrist demonstrates the devotion of medieval Muslim scholars to books and reliable sources; it contains a description of thousands of books circulating in the Islamic world circa 1000, including an entire section for books about the doctrines of other religions. Unfortunately, modern Islamic libraries for the most part do not hold these antique books; many were lost, destroyed by Mongols, or removed to European libraries and museums during the colonial period.
By the 8th century first Iranians and then Arabs had imported the craft of paper making from China, with a mill already at work in Baghdad in 794. By the 9th century completely public libraries started to appear in many Islamic cities. They were called "halls of Science" or dar al-'ilm. They were each endowed by Islamic sects with the purpose of representing their tenets as well as promoting the dissemination of secular knowledge. The 9th century Abbasid Caliph al-Mutawakkil of Iraq, even ordered the construction of a ‘zawiyat qurra literally an enclosure for readers which was `lavishly furnished and equipped.' In Shiraz Adhud al-Daula (d. 983CE) set up a library, described by the medieval historian, al-Muqaddasi, as''`a complex of buildings surrounded by gardens with lakes and waterways. The buildings were topped with domes, and comprised an upper and a lower story with a total, according to the chief official, of 360 rooms.... In each department, catalogues were placed on a shelf... the rooms were furnished with carpets...'. ''The libraries often employed translators and copyists in large numbers, in order to render into Arabic the bulk of the available Persian, Greek and Roman non-fiction and the classics of literature. This flowering of Islamic learning ceased after a few centuries as the Islamic world began to turn against experimentation and learning. After a few centuries many of these libraries were destroyed by Mongolian invasion. Others were victim of wars and religious strife in the Islamic world. However, a few examples of these medieval libraries, such as the libraries of Chinguetti in West Africa, remain intact and relatively unchanged even today. Another ancient library from this period which is still operational and expanding is the Central Library of Astan Quds Razavi in the Iranian city of Mashhad, which has been operating for more than six centuries.''
The contents of these Islamic libraries were copied by Christian monks in Muslim/Christian border areas, particularly Spain and Sicily. From there they eventually made their way into other parts of Christian Europe. These copies joined works that had been preserved directly by Christian monks from Greek and Roman originals, as well as copies Western Christian monks made of Byzantine works. The resulting conglomerate libraries are the basis of every modern library today.
Medieval library design reflected the fact that these manuscripts--created via the labor-intensive process of hand copying--were valuable possessions. Library architecture developed in response to the need for security. Librarians often chained books to lecterns, armaria (wooden chests), or shelves, in well-lit rooms. Despite this protectiveness, many libraries were willing to lend their books if provided with security deposits (usually money or a book of equal value). Monastic libraries lent and borrowed books from each other frequently and lending policy was often theologically grounded. For example, the Franciscan monasteries loaned books to each other without a security deposit since according to their vow of poverty only the entire order could own property. In 1212 the council of Paris condemned those monasteries that still forbade loaning books, reminding them that lending is "one of the chief works of mercy."
The early libraries located in monastic cloisters and associated with scriptoria were collections of lecterns with books chained to them. Shelves built above and between back-to-back lecterns were the beginning of bookpresses. The chain was attached at the fore-edge of a book rather than to its spine. Book presses came to be arranged in carrels (perpendicular to the walls and therefore to the windows) in order to maximize lighting, with low bookcases in front of the windows. This stall system (fixed bookcases perpendicular to exterior walls pierced by closely spaced windows) was characteristic of English institutional libraries. In Continental libraries, bookcases were arranged parallel to and against the walls. This wall system was first introduced on a large scale in Spain's El Escorial.
A number of factors combined to create a "golden age of libraries" between 16 and 1700: The quantity of books had gone up, as the cost had gone down, there was a renewal in the interest of classical literature and culture, nationalism was encouraging nations to build great libraries, universities were playing a more prominent role in education, and renaissance thinkers and writers were producing great works. Some of the more important libraries include the Bodleian Library at Oxford, the Library of the British Museum, the Mazarine Library in Paris, and the National Central Library in Italy, the Prussian State Library, the German State Library, the M.E. Saltykov-Schedrin State Public Library of St. Petersburg, and many more.
The earliest example in England of a library to be endowed for the benefit of users who were not members of an institution such as a cathedral or college was the Francis Trigge Chained Library in Grantham, Lincolnshire, established in 1598. The library still exists and can justifiably claim to be the forerunner of later public library systems.The beginning of the modern, free, open access libraries really got its start in the U.K. in 1847. Congress appointed a committee, led by, William Ewart, on Public Libraries to consider the necessity of establishing libraries through the nation: In 1849 their report noted the poor condition of library service, it recommended the establishment of free public libraries all over the country, and it led to the Public Libraries Act in 1850, which allowed all cities with populations exceeding 10,000 to levy taxes for the support of public libraries. Another important act was the 1870 Public School Law, which increased literacy, thereby the demand for libraries, so by 1877, more than 75 cities had established free libraries, and by 1900 the number had reached 300. This finally marks the start of the public library as we know it. And these acts led to similar laws in other countries, most notably the U.S.
1876 is a well known year in the history of librarianship. The American Library Association was formed, as well as The American Library Journal, Melvil Dewey published his decimal based system of classification, and the United States Bureau of Education published its report, "Public libraries in the United States of America; their history, condition, and management." The American Library Association continues to play a major role in libraries to this day, and Dewey's classification system, although under heavy criticism of late, still remains as the prevailing method of classification used in the United States.
As the number of books in libraries increased, so did the need for compact storage and access with adequate lighting, giving birth to the stack system, which involved keeping a library's collection of books in a space separate from the reading room, an arrangement which arose in the 19th century. Book stacks quickly evolved into a fairly standard form in which the cast iron and steel frameworks supporting the bookshelves also supported the floors, which often were built of translucent blocks to permit the passage of light (but were not transparent, for reasons of modesty). With the introduction of electrical lighting, it had a huge impact on how the library operated. Also, the use of glass floors was largely discontinued, though floors were still often composed of metal grating to allow air to circulate in multi-story stacks. Ultimately, even more space was needed, and a method of moving shelves on tracks (compact shelving) was introduced to cut down on otherwise wasted aisle space.
Library 2.0, a term coined in 2005, is the library's response to the challenge of Google, and an attempt to meet the changing needs and wants of the users, using web 2.0 technology. Some of the aspects of Library 2.0 include, commenting, tagging, bookmarking, discussions, using social software, plug-ins, and widgets. Inspired by web 2.0, it is an attempt to make the library a more user driven institution.

Types of libraries

Libraries can be divided into categories by several methods:
  • by the entity (institution, municipality, or corporate body) that supports or perpetuates them
  • by the type of documents or materials they hold
  • by the subject matter of documents they hold
  • by the users they serve
  • by traditional professional divisions:
    • Academic libraries — These libraries are located on the campuses of colleges and universities and serve primarily the students and faculty of that and other academic institutions. Some academic libraries, especially those at public institutions, are accessible to members of the general public in whole or in part.
    • School libraries — Most public and private primary and secondary schools have libraries designed to support the school's curriculum.
    • Research libraries — These libraries are intended for supporting scholarly research, and therefore maintain permanent collections and attempt to provide access to all necessary material. Research libraries are most often academic libraries or national libraries, but many large special libraries have research libraries within their special field and a very few of the largest public libraries also serve as research libraries.
    • Public libraries or public lending libraries — These libraries provide service to the general public and make at least some of their books available for borrowing, so that readers may use them at home over a period of days or weeks. Typically, libraries issue library cards to community members wishing to borrow books. Many public libraries also serve as community organizations that provide free services and events to the public, such as reading groups and toddler story time.
    • Special libraries — All other libraries fall into this category. Many private businesses and public organizations, including hospitals, museums, research laboratories, law firms, and many government departments and agencies, maintain their own libraries for the use of their employees in doing specialized research related to their work. Special libraries may or may not be accessible to some identified part of the general public. Branches of a large academic or research libraries dealing with particular subjects are also usually called "special libraries": they are generally associated with one or more academic departments. Special libraries are distinguished from special collections, which are branches or parts of a library intended for rare books, manuscripts, and similar material. http://www.newberry.org
  • The final method of dividing library types is also the simplest. Many institutions make a distinction between circulating libraries (where materials are expected and intended to be loaned to patrons, institutions, or other libraries) and collecting libraries (where the materials are selected on a basis of their natures or subject matter). Many modern libraries are a mixture of both, as they contain a general collection for circulation, and a reference collection which is often more specialized, as well as restricted to the library premises.
Also, the governments of most major countries support national libraries. Three noteworthy examples are the U.S. Library of Congress, Canada's Library and Archives Canada, and the British Library. A typically broad sample of libraries in one state in the U.S. can be explored at Every Library In Illinois.

Organization

Libraries have materials arranged in a specified order according to a library classification system, so that items may be located quickly and collections may be browsed efficiently. Some libraries have additional galleries beyond the public ones, where reference materials are stored. These reference stacks may be open to selected members of the public. Others require patrons to submit a "stack request," which is a request for an assistant to retrieve the material from the closed stacks.
Larger libraries are often broken down into departments staffed by both paraprofessionals and professional librarians.
  • Circulation handles user accounts and the loaning/returning and shelving of materials.
  • Technical Services works behind the scenes cataloguing and processing new materials and deaccessioning weeded materials.
  • Reference staffs a reference desk answering user questions (using structured reference interviews), instructing users, and developing library programming. Reference may be further broken down by user groups or materials; common collections are children's literature, young adult literature, and genealogy materials.
  • Collection Development orders materials and maintains materials budgets.

Library use

Library patrons may not know how to use a library effectively. This can be due to lack of early exposure, shyness, or anxiety and fear of displaying ignorance. In United States public libraries, beginning in the 19th century these problems drove the emergence of the library instruction movement, which advocated library user education. One of the early leaders was John Cotton Dana. The basic form of library instruction is generally known as information literacy.
Libraries inform their users of what materials are available in their collections and how to access that information. Before the computer age, this was accomplished by the card catalog — a cabinet containing many drawers filled with index cards that identified books and other materials. In a large library, the card catalog often filled a large room. The emergence of the Internet, however, has led to the adoption of electronic catalog databases (often referred to as "webcats" or as OPACs, for "online public access catalog"), which allow users to search the library's holdings from any location with Internet access. This style of catalog maintenance is compatible with new types of libraries, such as digital libraries and distributed libraries, as well as older libraries that have been retrofitted. Electronic catalog databases are disfavored by some who believe that the old card catalog system was both easier to navigate and allowed retention of information, by writing directly on the cards, that is lost in the electronic systems. This argument is analogous to the debate over paper books and e-books. While they have been accused of precipitously throwing out valuable information in card catalogs, most modern libraries have nonetheless made the movement to electronic catalog databases. Large libraries are scattered across multiple buildings across a town, each having multiple floors, with multiple rooms with many shelves. After the user found a book in the catalog the user is forced to wade through another stack of lists, manuals, and maps and then navigate through erratic floor layouts to the real book. GPS coordinates might help in this respect.
Finland has the highest number of registered book borrowers per capita in the world. Over half of Finland's population are registered borrowers. In the U.S., public library users have borrowed roughly 15 books per user per year from 1856 to 1978. From 1978 to 2004, book circulation per user declined approximately 50%. The growth of audiovisuals circulation, estimated at 25% of total circulation in 2004, accounts for about half of this decline.

Library management

Basic tasks in library management include the planning of acquisitions (which materials the library should acquire, by purchase or otherwise), library classification of acquired materials, preservation of materials (especially rare and fragile archival materials such as manuscripts), the deaccessioning of materials, patron borrowing of materials, 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, and the development and implementation of outreach services and reading-enhancement services (such as adult literacy and children's programming).
See public library for funding issues for public libraries.

Famous libraries

Some of the greatest libraries in the world are research libraries. The most famous ones include The Humanities and Social Sciences Library of the New York Public Library in New York City, the Russian National Library in St Petersburg, the British Library in London, Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C..
Some libraries devoted to a single subject:
library in Arabic: مكتبة
library in Bengali: গ্রন্থাগার
library in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Бібліятэка
library in Breton: Levraoueg
library in Bulgarian: Библиотека
library in Catalan: Biblioteca
library in Czech: Knihovna (instituce)
library in Welsh: Llyfrgell
library in Danish: Bibliotek
library in German: Bibliothek
library in Estonian: Raamatukogu
library in Modern Greek (1453-): Βιβλιοθήκη
library in Spanish: Biblioteca
library in Esperanto: Biblioteko
library in Basque: Liburutegi
library in Persian: کتابخانه
library in French: Bibliothèque
library in Western Frisian: Bibleteek
library in Galician: Biblioteca
library in Korean: 도서관
library in Hindi: पुस्तकालय
library in Croatian: Knjižnica
library in Indonesian: Perpustakaan
library in Icelandic: Bókasafn
library in Italian: Biblioteca
library in Hebrew: ספרייה
library in Georgian: ბიბლიოთეკა
library in Kurdish: Pirtûkxane
library in Latin: Bibliotheca
library in Lithuanian: Biblioteka
library in Hungarian: Könyvtár
library in Malayalam: വായനശാല
library in Malay (macrolanguage): Perpustakaan
library in Dutch: Bibliotheek (algemeen)
library in Japanese: 図書館
library in Norwegian: Bibliotek
library in Norwegian Nynorsk: Bibliotek
library in Pangasinan: Librari
library in Low German: Bibliotheek
library in Polish: Biblioteka
library in Portuguese: Biblioteca
library in Romanian: Bibliotecă
library in Russian: Библиотека
library in Simple English: Library
library in Serbian: Библиотека
library in Serbo-Croatian: Biblioteka
library in Finnish: Kirjasto
library in Swedish: Bibliotek
library in Tagalog: Aklatan
library in Tamil: நூலகம்
library in Telugu: గ్రంధాలయము
library in Thai: ห้องสมุด
library in Vietnamese: Thư viện
library in Tajik: Китобхона
library in Turkish: Kütüphane
library in Ukrainian: Бібліотека
library in Walloon: Bibioteke
library in Yiddish: ביבליאטעק
library in Contenese: 圖書館
library in Samogitian: Kningīnė
library in Chinese: 图书馆
library in Slovak: Knižnica

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

ALA, American Library Association, Bodleian Library, British Museum, Festschrift, Indian reservation, Library of Congress, Vatican Library, ana, anthology, aquarium, archives, armory, arsenal, atelier, athenaeum, attic, back number, bank, basement, bay, bibliotheca, bin, bird sanctuary, body, bonded warehouse, book wagon, bookcase, bookery, bookmobile, bookroom, box, bunker, buttery, cargo dock, cellar, chest, chrestomathy, circulating library, closet, collectanea, collection, compilation, conservatory, copy, corpus, crate, crib, cupboard, data, depository, depot, dock, drawer, dump, edition, exchequer, florilegium, forest preserve, fund, game reserve, glory hole, godown, hold, holdings, hutch, impression, issue, lending library, library edition, locker, loft, lumber room, lumberyard, magasin, magazine, menagerie, museum, national forest, national park, number, office, paradise, park, preserve, printing, public library, rack, raw data, reading room, rental library, repertory, repository, reservation, reserve, reservoir, rick, sail loft, sanctuary, school edition, series, set, shelf, stack, stack room, stacks, state forest, stock room, storage, store, storehouse, storeroom, studio, study, supply base, supply depot, tank, trade book, trade edition, treasure, treasure house, treasure room, treasury, vat, vault, volume, warehouse, wilderness preserve, wildlife preserve, wine cellar, workroom, zoo
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