Types of Library

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There are six types of libraries performing various functions in the society. These are: The national library, public library, academic library, school library, special library and private library. Each type of library is unique and performs given roles. Some functions are common to all libraries while others are tailored to meet the special requirements of the owners. This post for today will identify and describe different types of libraries and their roles in the society. I’d like you stay tuned and read to the end.

As we all know that Library is very important to Academics, scholar and even student in our various university, polytechnic and college of educations even at the secondary/high school and primary school level


Libraries could generally be grouped into six distinct categories:

1. National Library

This is the library owned by a sovereign nation or state. It caters for the information needs of the country and has legal deposit right: right to acquire all the publications made by individuals and organization within the country, no matter the subject and all publications about the United State of America made by individuals or organizations overseas, no matter their nationality. National libraries do not lend books and other materials to individuals. However, they could lend materials to organizations like universities or other serious bodies in the country on long term basis.

Examples of national libraries are the National library of Nigeria, National Library of Kenya and the Library of Congress of the United States.

Also read.. Importance of Library Services

2. Public Libraries

Public libraries are owned by state or local government to cater for the information, education and recreational needs of the inhabitants. As the name implies, everybody is allowed to make use of public library resources subject to local regulations. Public libraries also serve the interest of nursery and primary school children.

3. School Libraries

School libraries are set up in nursery, primary and secondary schools/high school to cater for the teaching and learning interest of the pupils, students and their teachers. The modern trend is to establish school media resource centres. The media resource centre integrates the print and non-print materials to facilitate individual as well as group learning by the school pupils.


The furniture and materials in school media resource centres are specially designed tos suit children. The entire environment is made attractive.

4. Academic Libraries

Academic libraries are libraries of tertiary institutions like universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, major seminaries and comparable theological colleges, colleges of agriculture, colleges of forestry, colleges of fisheries, and so on. Academic libraries are primarily established to provide literature support to the programmes of their parent institutions. For example, if a tertiary institution is offering degree, diploma and certificate courses, its library is expected to provide educational research and information materials in the relevant subjects to suit each

5. Special Libraries

special library services the interest of research institutions and people working in an organization with specified subject interest which is usually narrow in scope. Other times special libraries level of the institution’s academic programmes. Special libraries are also referred to as research libraries. These serve the interest of the public on a narrow discipline. Therefore, for there to be a special library it is either that, the users are special or the materials are special. Examples of special libraries are the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs’ Library, Lagos, Federal Institution of Industrial Research Oshodi Library, Nigeria Institute for Social and Economic Research Library, Ibadan, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Library, Ibadan, and the Maps and Manuscripts Library, Lagos (an arm of the National Library of Nigeria, Lagos).

Also read…Meaning of Library Services and Types of Library Services

6. Private Libraries

Private libraries are owned by individuals or organizations like churches. The ones owned by individuals arise out of either the owner’s educational, political or economic activities or out of the desire to offer services to the public on a commercial basis. Private libraries belonging to organizations to support the work done in the organizations, including evangelization, ministry libraries and the library of the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo at his Ikenne residence.

Subscription libraries are springing up in Lagos and other cities. Some private libraries have the characteristics of special libraries while some others are general in nature.


Libraries have the common functions of acquisition, organization, storage and dissemination of information contained in books and non books materials. The function of any type of library depends: on the objectives for which it is established.

Functions of National Libraries


A national library is primarily established to preserve the intellectual output (in form of publications of the country for posterity). The following specific functions are performed by the national library:

i. acquiring all publications made in the country, no matter the subject by citizens and foreigners and all publications made about the country overseas;

ii. receiving legal deposit;
iii. organizing and storing information materials that are important for the country’s development;

iv. publishing a comprehensive national bibliography; stimulating library development in the country through its leadership role, bibliographic and training activities; vi. serving as the library of the last resort to the nation; vii. providing reference services to the public.

Also read…Meaning of Library Services and Types of Library Services

V. The task of a national library is to ensure that all engaged in political, economic, scientific, educational, social or cultural activities receive the necessary information to enable them render their fullest contribution to the whole community. The preservation role of the national library is very important because it ensures that all achievements of today’s society by way of publications are made known to the future generation. For national library to effectively serve as the memory of the nation, the government usually enacts a law giving legal backing to its function. An important aspect of the enabling law is the clause on legal deposits. For example, Section 4 of the National Library of Nigeria decree of 1970 provides that the publishers of every book in Nigeria shall within one month after the publication deliver at his own expense to the National Library three copies of the book, two of which shall be kept in the National Library for permanent preservation and one of which shall be sent by the Director to the Ibadan University Library. The same law binds the state governments to deposit ten copies of their publications, at their own expense with the National Library of Nigeria and twenty five copies in the case of publication made by the Federal Government or its agencies.

Functions of Public Libraries

Generally, the aim of a public library is to contribute to the quality of life, to promote the concept of democratic society and add to the sum total of man’s happiness and awareness of himself. Greenwood describes public libraries as centers of light that not only feed, but create a taste for reading and aid materially in the repressing and taming of the rougher and baser parts of human nature. Public libraries perform the following specific functions:


i. Education

The public library acquires, organizes, stores and makes available for use all forms of materials that can promote or encourage the education of the citizenry. Books, serials and audio-visual materials for secondary school, primary school and adult literacy programmes are available for use in the public library. Public libraries also organize adult literacy programmes for the public in form of extra-mural classes. Apart from materials for formal education, the library, through its reader’s services, educates the citizens on their rights and responsibilities and their personal development generally

Also read…Meaning of Library Services and Types of Library Services

ii. Information

Through the type of materials it acquires and stocks, and through its reference services, the public library provides information to its user on virtually all matters. It provides information on government activities, tourism, commerce, health and so on. If citizens need information on any subject, the first step they take is to go to the reference department of the public library. To effectively inform the citizenry, public libraries should be well financed, professionally well staffed and must stock a wide variety of materials in various formats and media. It should at least have general encyclopedia, dictionaries, trade guides, biographies, government publications, serials (newspapers, journals, magazines) and so on. In addition to text books there should be materials in the vernacular of the locality.

iii. Promotion of Culture

As organs for cultural promotion, public libraries acquire and preserve for use a variety of materials on the local culture and values

Thanks for getting this lovely one from us, we hope we see you around some other times, till then, stay good, and know Saferlane’s got you…bye

Also read…Meaning of Library Services and Types of Library Services

Also read.. Importance of Library Services


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