Specialized library

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Subject libraries or special libraries are libraries which, in contrast to universal libraries , have specialized in one subject area in their collection focus . Specialist libraries are usually part of another facility, for example a research institute , a private company , a museum , archive or a larger library. They are therefore also referred to as internal service facilities whose service lies in the procurement and management of information in a company in the economy or in a research facility .

Structure and tasks

There are specialist libraries only in the field of scientific libraries . At the same time, most academic libraries are also specialized libraries, since the task of collecting all subject areas can no longer be fulfilled by one institution. In contrast, public libraries tend to have more general holdings with an emphasis on fiction . Public libraries only have specialized special collections in individual cases.

The library is organized as a department , department , subject area or staff unit within the superordinate supporting institution and, as a consequence, H. Tied to the parent organization from task definition, financing to the question of existence. Libraries themselves are excluded as supporting organizations.

While in other countries the national library can still fulfill this task, in Germany there is a distributed national library in addition to the German National Library (DNB), consisting of the collection of German prints and the special collection areas , which agree on a division according to specialist collection focuses.

Subject libraries: the little sister of the subject libraries

A distinction must be made between the specialist libraries and the subject libraries, which also do not collect fiction, but generally understandable non-fiction books and only in some cases academic specialist books. Your book holdings are freely accessible, apart from the smaller reference holdings. A subject library can also fulfill functions such as that of an editorial library, a Christian library or a company and company library.

A subject library can also deliberately address a limited group of users. In this case, it is perceived from the outside more as a special library. This is the case if the users are deliberately restricted by a library rule, for example to the holder of a certain professional qualification, to members of a non-fiction reading group or to members of a specific family of convictions who, as a precondition for a book loan, are required to have a to subscribe to certain journal.

Virtual library

With increasing networking and a lack of financial resources, specialist libraries are increasingly grouped together as so-called virtual specialist libraries on the Internet , which serve as a portal for a subject area. The boundaries between specialist libraries and specialist information centers or other documentation facilities are fluid. However, a library is primarily used to record literature that has appeared in bookshops. So-called gray literature (master's theses, letters, etc.) is only collected sporadically.

target group

Special libraries serve a very diverse group of clients who are always related to the supporting organization. Many special libraries, especially corporate libraries , are exclusively the employees of the company accessible. Outsiders can only use the library in exceptional cases on special request. Other specialized libraries, especially at publicly funded institutions such as B. Parliamentary or museum libraries are primarily active for the primary target group , the employees of the supporting institution, but are also available to the interested public for limited use.

Service department

Within the institution , the special library has the status of a service department. The assignment is aligned with the tasks and goals of the institution. The library contributes to the success of the organization by providing needs-oriented information for employees in their daily tasks and projects . The term service department expresses that the special library plans and acts on the basis of business management principles.

Information supply

In terms of customer orientation , the special library is the central point of contact for all information inquiries from customers, which are answered using internal and external sources from all types of documents and media . Many special libraries are increasingly developing into active information service providers and offer tailor-made information products after precisely determining the information needs of their customers . Library and documentary knowledge, working methods and methods are used to achieve this goal. This means that special libraries have a high degree of integration of the library and documentation areas . Special libraries are therefore more customer and information-oriented than inventory-oriented. The function is shifting significantly from the mere administration of media stocks in the direction of the active communication of information, information consulting and information management .


The specialization when building up the inventory usually means a limitation to a scientific discipline, a subject area , an industry , a topic or an interdisciplinary scientific segment . A subject area is seldom collected in its full breadth, more often individual research areas are cultivated in particular depth. Since the inventory management of the special library is basically geared towards the future work of the institution, topics of completed projects are no longer pursued. In other cases, the interdisciplinary nature of a research project or the task of an institution also lead to the development of an interdisciplinary, and in individual cases even universal, portfolio.


By subject

According to the supporting institution

  • Parliament and government libraries
  • Libraries at federal and state research institutes
  • Bundeswehr libraries
  • Court libraries
  • Libraries at chambers
  • Libraries at research institutions
  • Libraries of political parties, foundations, clubs and associations
  • Libraries at media facilities and broadcasters
  • Museum libraries
  • Church libraries
  • Corporate libraries
  • Libraries at international organizations

By country of origin

In some cases, associations or private individuals offer books for loan that originate from a specific production area, such as B. the library with over 8,000 titles with printed works from the Soviet occupation zone and the GDR that emerged from it:

Individual evidence

  1. ^ GDR bookstore

See also

Web links

  • Special library forum : An interactive source of information for special librarians, information specialists, students, pupils and trainees, as well as anyone interested in the subject of special libraries. The website was created as part of the “Information Management” course at the Hanover University of Applied Sciences.