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Library services are provided to satisfy the information, educational and recreational needs of the library users. Services to users could be either directly through contact with them or in directly through activities carried out “behind the scene”. There are two major types of library services: technical services and readers services.


Technical services, as a concept, refers to those library operations concerned with the acquisition and organization of knowledge. Librarianship is all about systematic acquisition of books and non book materials containing knowledge and organizing them for easy information service to the library users. Technical services are therefore very important to librarianship.

The technical services departments in the librarian include:

i. acquisitions department;

ii. cataloguing department, and

iii. serials department.

Some libraries in addition have a Bindery Unit so this increases the list to four.

i. The Acquisitions Department : The acquisitions department’s function is to select, order and receive new books and non book materials for the library. The materials thus acquired are stamped and accessional before being transferred to the cataloguing department for further technical processing.

It is also the duty of the acquisitions department to obtain acquisition funds, receive invoices from book-sellers and publishers and make payments for book order in liaison with the Accounts Unit.

However, some library acquisitions do no invoice payment. Acquisitions in the library could also be through gifts and exchanges, bequeath and inter-library loans. Every new item coming into the library passes through the acquisitions department which then ensures that proper records have been kept concerning the material acquired before being taken out for further processing and use.

II The Cataloguing Department

The cataloguing department is responsible for the cataloguing and classification of alll ibrary books.


Cataloguing involves the description of books to point out the important bibliographic features like author, title, place of publication, publisher, edition, date of publication and subject of each book. On the other hand, classification entails grouping books according to common characteristics relating to their subject matter. In classification, all materials that have similar subject content are grouped together and assigned class numbers. The class number identifies each item as a member of a group. For example, all materials, on biology will bear a unique class number separating them from those on chemistry, religion, geography, and so on.


The ultimate purpose of cataloguing and classification is to ensure that library materials are systematically organized. With cataloguing and classification, it becomes possible to put all materials on a specific

discipline, like accounting in one area of the library shelves. It is also possible to label the shelves so as to indicate what class of materials they hold.

From cataloguing and classification, the library catalogue is created. The catalogue indicates what materials are available in the library (under the author, title, series, subject) and where they can be located on the library shelves. The library’s public catalogue helps the library user to determine whether his need is available or not in the particular library, to select what to read and to know where it can be located in the library. Thus, cataloguing and classification save the time of the library user.

iii. The Serials Department

Serials are publications issued in successive parts, at regular or irregular intervals and intended to be continued indefinitely, Serials include professional journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, yearbooks, calendars, and so on. These contain first hand and the most recent information and so are referred to as primary sources of information.

The task of the serials department is to select, acquire, record, process and display serials for use in the library. It also takes responsibility for indexing, abstracting serials and creation of vertical files. From the serials acquired and organized, the department provides specialized information services to users such as compilation of reading lists, selective dissemination or information, publication of current contents list, and so on. These services will be discussed in greater details in subsequent courses on serials and references services.

The serials department in some libraries undertake the cataloguing and classification of serials and creation of a serials catalogue. It also handles all financial matters pertaining to the acquisition of serials. The department is also run like a business enterprise.

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iv. The Bindery Unit

The bindery unit takes charge of repair and restoration of damaged library books. It could also fortify library books by converting paperbacks to hard-bound books and binding cumulative volumes of serials. All issues of a particular newspaper in the library could be bound on a monthly basis such that they are better protected to withstand the wear and tear of intensive use.


What is reader services???

As the name implies, the readers’ services division of the library is responsible for direct provision of library services to users. It is in the readers services division that the library staff come in contact with the library users. It is also in this area of the library that users come in contact with books and other library resources provided for their use.

The purpose of every library is to provide literature support and general information services to users. No matter the efficiency of the library’s technical services, it will be a complete failure if it cannot provide the needed readers’ services. Libraries provide readers’ services in two main departments:

I. circulation department; and,

II. reference department.

Circulation department

Circulation It is in the circulation department of the library that books change hands from one library user to another. This is why the library materials are said to be circulating. In the circulation department are found books for loan and in-hour use. Once the library user is properly registered and is entitled to book loan, he goes to the circulation department to borrow the books he wants. On expiration of the book loan, the user also returns the borrowed book to the circulation department. The point at which library books are loaned (charged out) and received back (discharged) on expiration of the loan is called the circulation desk (circulation counter). All records of a book on loan, including name and address of the borrower are kept at the circulation desk.


i.The circulation department

Educates users on how to use the library and informs them of what the library has in stock. User education and awareness services could be achieved through library tours, group talks and library exhibitions.

ii. Reference Department

Unlike circulation department, materials in the reference department are for in house use only. They are not for loan. People are supposed to consult or refer to them only, hence, the name, ‘reference department. It is not only the materials that are consulted in the reference department, the library staff (Librarians, library officers) are also consulted. These staff constitute the human resources of the department and can answer questions from the users to satisfy their information needs. In answering users’ questions (user queries), the Reference Librarian and his supportive staff usually consult the bibliographic resources like dictionaries. Encyclopedias, theses, dissertations, maps, gazettes, yearbooks and so on in the library.

If the need arises, the Reference Librarian could also make contact either in person or by telephone, e-mail and fax with other libraries and information centres to satisfy the information needs of the users. The reference department of the library also assists users to case out information very quickly through compilation of reading lists, bibliographics and the making of abstracts and indexes. It also provides personalized information services to users, including selective dissemination of information (SDI).

Other services of the library include:

i. Provision of users education to both regular and potential

users. ii. Provision of selective dissemination of information.

iii. Bibliographic service.

iv. Inter-library loan service.

V. Reprographic/photocopy service.

vi. Current awareness service.


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