Special Libraries

Authored by: David Shumaker

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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Special libraries are extremely diverse and are found in many different types of organizations, serving almost every conceivable discipline. With few exceptions, special libraries exist as units of larger organizations. Special libraries arose in the United States and Great Britain in the nineteenth century and have multiplied and spread worldwide throughout the twentieth. Despite their diversity, they have certain unifying characteristics. They acquire and maintain information resources in topics and areas of importance to a limited, well-defined customer base, and they offer a range of specialized and customized services to ensure that the right information reaches the right customers at the right time. They take their mission and goals from their parent organizations, and exist primarily to improve the ability of their customers to perform their tasks effectively. Recent advances in information technology and organizational development are changing the role of special libraries, bringing them both threats and broad new opportunities.

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