What Is A Library? – Know The Library Terms And Use

The library is one word most of us hear often. Some do believe is a place, others do believe it is a couple of books that make up a library. What is it?

What Is A Library?

A library is a building or a room where a collection of items including books, periodicals, music, audio-visual, artwork, etc are kept.

These collections are accessible to the entire public in Public libraries or to people belonging to specific institutions in Private libraries.

Apart from housing books, it is also a place with a conducive environment for reading or studying. It is also the major source of information.

Types of Libraries

The type of libraries can be in four major categories which are:

  1. National Libraries
  2. Public Libraries
  3. Academic/School Libraries
  4. Special Libraries

National Library

National Libraries are usually funded by the government. This is usually a great source of information about the Nation and its history.

Most of the time, you can find at least one in the whole country. Because it serves the entire Nation, visitors are most of the time, not allowed to borrow books.

Public Libraries

These libraries, unlike National Libraries, are the major source of information to the public. It is also funded by the Nation but this one has branches usually in every major city serving the country.

The collections here are vast, unlike National Libraries that focus mostly on the Nation’s history.

Most of the services here are free to the public since the funds for the building are usually public funds. Even tho most of the services are free, there are still regulations to check and control how people use the place.

Academic / School Libraries

Academic or School libraries are libraries that serve schools. In most cases, the school libraries serve only the particular school.

Tertiary institutions like Universities and Colleges serving the students. In larger schools, the library has branches on every campus.

Borrowing books in school libraries is very easy but one must be a student of the particular school to get access to the resources.

Special Libraries

Special libraries are for specific organizations or institutions. Such a library deals in information specifically concerning the particular organization.

They are very strict libraries where only the right people get access to the resources. An example of some of these libraries includes company libraries, research libraries, etc.

In short, these types of libraries demand that you become part of the particular institution to use them.

Some Library Terms You Must Know

These are some of the terms you will find or must use in most libraries to get the right information.

Library Collections

These are all the materials libraries have for their users. Everything including books, sheet music, audio-visual materials, etc are all known as collections. Most libraries add up more of the items with time.

Library Catalogue

Since finding information is the major point of libraries in existence, making information finding easier must be key.

The catalog is more like the register of everything in the library. For instance, if you happen to be looking for a specific book by a specific author, the catalog will help you to locate it.

The catalog is the complete roadmap of the collections.

Shelves and Labels

While some of the collections might be in storage, most of them are in the public space where users can grab and glance through.

Assuming you enter a place where all the books are on each other, layer by layer and the one you have to read is at the very bottom.

shelves and labels in a library

You might probably not want to go there again.

In libraries, shelves and labels are used to organize books and make them easy to find. While the shelves serve as the containers of the books, the labels which in most cases are numbers help you to know which category of books you are going for.

It also helps the Librarian to easily point to where you can locate what you are looking for.


These are digital materials. Most of the time, they are physical books converted into the digital space to be accessible via digital mediums.

While some people think Ebooks will eliminate physical libraries, I still doubt they will. What I know for sure is the fact that Ebooks are part of the physical library collections.

Since Ebooks are just digital copies of the physical libraries, it is likely that you can’t find everything in a library in Ebooks.

There are few online libraries out there that are giving free access to Ebooks these days.


The person who serves or assists the users of a library is known as a librarian. Most of them know everything about the entire building off head.

All you have to do is to ask and they will direct you. In most cases, they are trained professionals.

How To Become A Librarian

Becoming a librarian is not that easy as most people imagine. Most librarians have at least a Diploma or Degree in Library and Information Science.

One of the easiest ways to become a librarian is to become a librarian assistant. But before becoming an assistant, you must educate yourself well since most of the library works demand reading.

Assisting a professional is the easiest way to learn every work. You can also check this article from PostMatric during an interview with a professional Librarian.


In short, I will say libraries are very important in our society. Apart from being a vital source of information, they also contribute greatly to our educational system.

While most of us rely on reading Ebooks as the main source of information, it is also a very good idea to visit the physical library often.

If you have any questions or suggestions, leave a comment below.

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