This article is about collections of books and other materials. For libraries used in computer software, see Library (computer science).
In its most general sense a library is a collection of books and other reference materials. The term is usually used to refer to a public, school, or institutional library. Such a library is open to consultation by the public, students, or patrons or employees of an institution, and often features a reference desk. Many libraries (called lending libraries) make at least some of their books available for borrowing, so readers can use them at home, over a period of days or weeks. As well as books, many libraries are now repositories and/or access points for other media, such as maps, microfilm, microfiche, audio tapes, CDss, LPs, video tapes, CD-ROMs and DVDs, and have facilities to use the Internet.

Etymology of the word

The word is derived from Latin liber, which means "book." Derivations from the Greek Bibliotheke (from Biblos, book) are used in at least German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Dutch. Other languages, such as Icelandic, Finnish, and Estonian, use words that derive from their own words for book (Bokasafn, Kirjasto, and Raamatukogu, respectively).

Library management

Basic tasks in library management include the planning of acquisition (which materials should be acquired), library classification, preservation of materials (especially rare and fragile materials such as manuscripts), borrowing, 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.

Library instruction

Many users do not know how to use a library correctly. Fear and anxiety are common in some users. An entire movement has sprung up to advocate library user education. The common term is library instruction. For example, library instruction has been practiced in the USA since the 19th century. One of the leaders of the library instruction movement in the late 20th and early 21st centuries is Michael Lorenzen.

Some famous libraries

Other libraries: Some libraries that specialize in one subject: See list of libraries for a more extensive list; see also: List of national libraries

See also: Digital library, Library and information science, Literature, Public library, Catalog, slide library, Dewey Decimal Classification, List of libraries