Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Documentary Resources of Public Libraries P- 13. Public Libraries * By :C P Vashishth

इस ब्लॉग्स को सृजन करने में आप सभी से सादर सुझाव आमंत्रित हैं , कृपया अपने सुझाव और प्रविष्टियाँ प्रेषित करे , इसका संपूर्ण कार्य क्षेत्र विश्व ज्ञान समुदाय हैं , जो सभी प्रतियोगियों के कॅरिअर निर्माण महत्त्वपूर्ण योगदान देगा ,आप अपने सुझाव इस मेल पत्ते पर भेज सकते हैं -

Documentary Resources of Public Libraries

P- 13. Public Libraries *

By :C P Vashishth

1.0 Objectives

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2.0 Introduction

Library is a repository of resources and public library is an integral part of the society, whose primary function is to serve the users.  It usually consists of different collections which are typically shelved together in various physical areas of the library. The main library skill is understanding the basic types of library material and in public libraries ensure that all age groups find material relevant to their needs.

The library’s role of making material available is considered to be the most important contribution ever made to human culture and  technology. Libraries store material that enables users to develop ideas, knowledge and experience to enrich people from generations to generations. Without these, our society would not have advanced as we see it today.

The public library has to provide equality of access to a range of resources that meets the needs of its users for education, information, leisure and personal development. The library should provide access to the heritage of its society and develop diverse cultural resources and experiences.  Constant interaction and consultation with the local community will help to ensure this objective is achieved.

Library’s material serves as an important resource in the education, professional activities  and recreation of the members of our society. Each type of user, a student, researcher, professional or may be an industrial worker requires documents for carrying out his work. Libraries exist to satisfy the information needs of these users by supplying different types of library material.

In this module, we will discuss the categories of library material required by public libraries.

3. Documentary Resources

The public library has to meet the needs and interests of the community. For this, it  provides a wide range of material in a variety of formats and in sufficient quantity. The culture of the local community and society must be reflected in the documentary resources of the library. For this, public libraries must keep abreast of new formats and new methods of accessing information as the primary goal of every library is to aid all users in their quest for knowledge. An excellent collection of documents is required for all library services. These are available in a variety of forms which includes both the print and the non-print material.

4.0 Print Material

Historically, libraries have depended on printed material to build collections. In a library, we find a variety of printed material in various forms, which are:

  • Books
  • Reference books
  • Periodicals/Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Maps
  • Reports

Let us now study in detail about books, magazines, newspapers and reference books which are the most popular material found in public libraries.   

4.1 Books

Books constitute a major portion of any library’s collection. Size of any library is usually determined by the number of books the library has in its stock. Books usually supplement educational courses, business, foreign languages, history, literature, etc. It is vital to know the important features of a book.

A book is defined as a written or printed literary work, which is separately published and has an independent physical existence, with pages fastened along one side and encased between protective covers. In many libraries, books are referred to as monographs.

Oxford dictionary defines a book as ‘a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers’.

UNESCO  defines a book as ‘a bound non-periodical publication having 49 or more pages, exclusive of cover pages, published in a country and made available to the public’.

In other words, a book is a document that normally deals with one particular subject having continuous thought content. Most books have a protective cover. Books are reasonably inexpensive and convenient to store, transport and find knowledge and information. The book thus ranks as one of the humanity’s greatest inventions. People have used books in the same form for over 5,000 years. Although most books in libraries are usually bound with hard covers, paperbacks are also becoming popular now.

A book can be simple or composite, single volumed or multiple-volumed, a general book, a text-book or a reference book. Besides this, libraries have books that are fiction or non-fiction.

The public libraries provide books on various subjects for users having varied interest and of all age groups. The kind of books required for various age groups are as below:


Adult users usually require non-fiction on subjects of local, national, international and current interest. Those wanting to enhance their knowledge may read books related to new discoveries, processes, techniques or technologies. On the other hand, many may require books on current topics, local history, standard works, literature and languages or guidebooks and manuals. The adult users wanting to do light reading usually read more of fiction in English or in local language. Many of the adult users, mostly the senior citizens, prefer books with large print. In case there are large number of visually impaired users, braille materials should also be acquired.


The student users require books related to their studies which may be sciences, social sciences and arts and humanities. But most of students want only help books or reference books and books which can guide them for the career.


Public  libraries are most used for and are very popular with children users. Many of the public libraries have a separate children section with specially designed reading area and book shelves for children. Here the emphasis is on:

-       Story books with pictures for small children
-       Literature and fiction for children of all age-groups
-       Non-fiction including factual books on all subjects to arouse the interest of the children
-       Graphic books
-       Specially designed reference books for children  

4.2 Reference Books

It is a book meant only to be consulted or referred to for some specific piece of    information. Reference books help library users to find answers to questions. These cannot be issued and taken home. In most of the libraries, these books have the letter “R” in their call number.  These  books are found in the special reference section or near the reference desk. In other words, these books are kept in the library only for reference.

Books such as dictionaries, encyclopaedias, gazetteers, yearbooks, directories, indexes, concordances, atlases, etc. are compiled to provide definite pieces of information or varying extent. These are intended to be referred to rather than read through.  Public libraries acquire specially designed reference books like dictionaries, encyclopaedias, atlases, etc. for younger readers.

Examples:  World Book Encyclopedia, Websters’s Dictionary of English Usage, The Statesman’s Year-book, The World Book Atlas

4.3 Periodicals/Magazines

A periodical is a publication with a distinctive title which appears at stated or regular intervals, without prior decision as to when the last issue shall appear. It contains articles, editorials, features, columns, stories or other writings, by several contributors. The periodicals are important sources for current information on any subject.

Periodicals are also referred to as serials or journals. Besides these, magazines are the most typical type of periodicals. Magazines are also periodicals with each issue starting at page one but they are not academic or professional publications. They are for general reading, quick information, or entertainment, frequently containing advertising for consumer products

4.4 Newspapers

A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features, editorials, and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade papers known as the newsprint. It is a publication issued periodically, usually daily or weekly containing most recent news. Newspapers, thus, provide an excellent means of keeping well informed on current events. They also play a vital role in shaping of the public opinion. Most of the public libraries are used only for their newspaper collection especially by the senior citizens of the locality of the library.

Newspapers are available in various categories as  below:

a)    Daily newspaper – issued every day. Example:  The Times of India, The Hindustan Times

b)    Weekly – published once a week. Example: Union Times Today, Sadbhavana Times 

c)    National – a newspaper that has national focus and circulates throughout the country. Example: The New York Times

d)    International – a newspaper having international editions. Example: The International Herald Tribune

e)    Online – most printed newspapers these days have online editions too.  Example: Times of India, The Hindu

The newspapers contain the world, national, state and local news. They carry editorials, opinion columns, featured articles and entertainment items. Very often, the news items or the stories are also supported by illustrations and photographs. A lot of newspapers bring out glossy and coloured supplements too in order to attract more readers.

5.0 Non-Print Material

Non-print material are defined as any material pertaining to, or consisting of other than the printed matter. These are rapidly becoming important information and learning resource materials for the modern libraries. Non-print materials differ from printed materials in several ways. One of the chief differences is  that a machine must serve as a mediator between the information and the user of non-print material. Also, the great variety of formats and machines can confuse the users.

5.1 Audio-Visual

Audio-visual material is a generic term to describe information content held in storage and transmission media and formats that use images and sounds rather than or sometimes in addition to textual matter.These materials, also called instructional media materials, are educational aids that work primarily through the senses, especially hearing and seeing. These materials include:

  • Motion picture films
  • Microforms
  • CD-ROMs
  • DVDs
  • Photographs

The public libraries having these materials also have the equipment involved in using them, such as motion-picture projectors, television sets, record and tape players, etc. For a very long time libraries had stored audio-cassettes, video-cassettes and slides but with the advent of modern technologies, these have become obsolete. Most of the audio-visual materials involve a greater use of the senses of the users and offer a more realistic experience than can be gained from reading a book. Although books still rank as the most widely used materials of any library, the audio-visual materials can be used to supplement the books and stimulate the interest of the users.

Let us now learn some details about each type of audio-visual materials.

a)    Motion picture films

A film, also called a movie or motion picture film, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects.

Film is considered to be an important art form, a source of popular entertainment and a powerful method for educating people. The visual effects give films a power of communication in the most effective manner. This makes films a popular material in public  libraries.  

b)    Microforms

Microforms, either films or paper, contain micro reproduction  of documents for transmission, storage, reading  and printing. Microform images are commonly reduced to about one twenty-fifth of the original document size. Three common formats are microfilm (reels), micro-cards and microfiche (flat sheets). Microforms can be read only with the help of a microform reader. Microforms were very useful for archival purposes. However, with advancements in computer technology, especially digitization of materials, the process of producing and using microforms has undergone tremendous changes. Presently, documents are scanned and stored electronically.

c)    CD-ROMs

A CD-ROM (an acronym of Compact Disc Read-only Memory) is a pre-pressed compact disc that contains data accessible to a computer for data storage,  music playback and videos. Discs are made from a 1.2 mm thick disc of polycarbonate plastic, with a thin layer of aluminium to  make a reflective surface. Earlier CDs were read only but presently, it is possible to write ( i.e., store data) on the CDs. The storage capacity of a  CD-ROM is huge as it can easily store an entire multi-volumed encyclopaedia with  images, plus audio and video clips. The CDs can be used to play both audio and video clips on a computer system or a CD player.

d)    DVDs

DVD stands for Digital Versatile/Video Disc. DVD is an optical disc storage format which has higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions. DVDs have been adopted by movie and home entertainment distributors and have replaced Video cassettes and CDs. Presently, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc are successors to the DVD. A dual layer HD DVD can store up to 30 GB and a dual layer Blu-ray disc can hold up to 50 GB of data. The DVDs can be used to play audio and video on a computer system or a DVD player.

e)    Photographs and Drawings

These include illustrations from books, periodicals, newspapers and at times pictures produced by commercial companies. The photographs can be scanned with the help of scanners and used at suitable places with various texts. The drawings, on the other hand, can be drawn on computer with the help of a DTP package and used suitably. 

5.2 Electronic Material

Computers and related electronic resources have come to play a central role in modern libraries. Electronic resources are the prime ingredients here. Electronic resources, referred to as e-resources, have added value to libraries for offering better services to the users. Electronic resources can be defined as any library material that is made available electronically. These are, thus, those library resources which include documents in electronic or e-format that can be accessed locally or via the Internet. Many reference books are also available in electronic format.

Users are provided access to various e-resources which are e-books, e-journals, e-databases, e-magazines, e-images, e-audio, digital library projects, electronic exhibitions, e-newsletters, e-conference proceedings, etc. Many of the electronic resources are available free to anyone over the Internet but some are commercial resources.

Information and communication technology is one of the important aspects of today’s world. It has changed the society into information society which is now the way of life. This change is also reflected in the modern public libraries.

Let us now know more about some of the electronic resources acquired by public libraries.

a) Electronic Books (e-books)

An electronic book, also referred to as e-book, ebook, digital book or even e-edition, is a book-length publication in digital form. It  consists of text, images, or both and produced, published, and readable on computers or other electronic devices. Sometimes, the equivalent of a conventional printed book is also available as e-book. E-books are usually read on dedicated e-book readers. Personal computers, laptops and some mobile phones can also be used to read e-books.

Some benefits of e-books over printed books are:

  • Immediately accessible – no waiting for delivery
  • Searchable
  • Most can be bookmarked
  • Easily portable than heavy printed books

We can store a whole library of e-books on our desktop, laptop or a hand-held device while moving about or traveling.  A whole range of reference sources too are accessible electronically.


Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, a free e-book can be downloaded from

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, e-book edition is the popular e-book edition of the Oxford Dictionary available at

b) Electronic Journals (e-journals)

Electronic journals, also known as ejournals, e-journals or electronic serials, are scholarly journals that can be accessed via electronic transmission. This means that these are usually published on the web. They are specialized form of electronic documents with the purpose of providing material for academic research and study. The e-journals are formatted just like journal articles in traditional printed journals.

Some electronic journals are online-only journals, some are online versions of printed journals and some consist of the online equivalent of a printed journal. Most commercial e-journals are subscription based or allow pay-per-view access. An increasing number of journals are now available online, as open access journals, requiring no subscription and offering free full-text articles. E-journals, however, have more use in academic and special libraries as these are usually used by scholarly users.


Springer Science Online (Electronic books and journals -

Blackwell Scientific Journals –

c) E-magazines

An online magazine also called aswebzines or ezineor e-zine is a more specialized term appropriately used for small magazines and newsletters distributed by any electronic method. These are usually distributed  by electronic mail. These are becoming very popular as printing and distribution costs are saved and they can be accessed anytime from anywhere.


India Today digital magazine,  Business Today e-Magazine, GrihShobha e-magazine

6.0 Other Resources

We have learnt about various forms of library material in the previous sections. However, besides the various print and non-print material, already discussed, there are some more types of library materials you should know about. These include the standards, patents, pamphlets, reports, dissertations and theses, and maps and charts, etc. The public libraries, however, acquire only the materials as discussed below:

6.1 Pamphlets

A pamphlet is an unbound booklet, consisting of usually a single sheet of paper, that is printed on both sides and folded. It is also called a leaflet and it  may consist of a few pages that are folded in half and stapled at the crease to make a simple book. UNESCO considers a publication as a pamphlet (other than a periodical), if it has at least 5 pages but not more than 48 pages exclusive of the cover pages. However, a  longer item is a book. Pamphlets are considered to be ephemeral material and usually provide information on topics of interest and are not intended to be exhaustive in nature.

Example :  Pamphlet of a new car to be launched

6.2 Posters

Like pamphlets, posters are also very useful, especially in areas where there is no easy access to modern communication media. It is a direct way of communication with community, but it can be rather expensive. Posters should be put up on places where they can be seen clearly. It is important thus, that they are large and with bold lettering to attract attention and can be read easily.

Example: Poster showing a new car that is being launched with a photograph

6.3 Maps, Globes and Charts

The location of any place or feature on the earth’s surface can be shown on a map or a globe. A map is usually drawn on a flat surface and a globe on a spherical surface.  Charts can be pictures, diagrams, floor plans, layouts, flowchart, etc.

Libraries usually acquire atlases which are usually books of maps and as such can be categorized as books. Globes are actually models of earth and provide geographical information.

Example: Oxford Reference Atlas for India and the World – published by Oxford University Press

6.4 Special Collection

Public libraries serve a variety of functions and in addition to providing access to free, quality information,they also may  maintain special collections in following areas:

  • Rare book collection
  • Manuscripts and archives
  • Photographs collection
  • Old reference material
  • Literature and classic works in various languages
  • Stamp collection

Many well-established large public libraries set up special collections within their buildings to display unique information for their users. Setting up a special collection in a public library is a good way to preserve the heritage of a community.These special collections are educational tools for the public as well as historical preservation initiatives aimed at keeping the individuality of a public library. The special collection is usually not issued and is for reference purpose only.

7.0 Summary

Users rely on public libraries which provide information in support of teaching, learning, research and knowledge dissemination, which is a fundamental reason for their existence. In order to be effective, libraries have to acquire suitable material needed by their users. For this reason, it is essential that the librarians of public libraries should be aware of various forms of library materials.The public libraries being a world wide phenomenon, attempt to meet a wide variety of user needs. They provide a variety of information resources such as text books, journals, fiction, etc. Their collection also contains information on general topics, social sciences, reference work, recreational information and extension services. The  public libraries also function as a ready source of information on activities in all walks of life for people. They assist user for taking advantage in decision making for development activities and for educational advancement.

In this module, we have discussed various kinds of documentary resources  and their role in a  public library. We have learnt about the print  and the non-print material. The print material includes the books, magazines, newspapers and reference books. The non-print material includes the audio-visual materials and electronic materials. Besides these, other resources are required by public  libraries, these are: pamphlets, posters, maps and charts, and special collections. Electronic resources, referred to as e-resources, have added value to the modern public libraries for offering better services to the users. 

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