The Different Roles and Functions of a Public Library

Hi, y'all! As you know, I work at a library and I really enjoy it but I know a lot of people just think the library is for books and they aren't aware of all the moving parts that go into running a public library. This post is going to go into more detail about the roles and functions in the library setting. 

For the purpose of explaining how the library runs, I am going to use a scenario as an example: A teenager coming to the library for help on a research paper on the civil rights movement and the election of Barack Obama as president. 

There are many departments in the library and each one contributes to helping this student. When they first walk into the library, the first place they are going to go is reference and this is where the reference librarian (or library employee) either shows the patron the information or shows them where to find it. This is important because if the student has not done research at the library, it can be very overwhelming and the it's. the librarian's job to assist them in finding their research. 

If there is a certain material the student wants but the library does not have it, they may need to do an inter-library loan. This is where they find out if another library in their branch has it and then it can be sent to their library and the patron can pick it up at Reserves. If the student is unable to locate the certain material at any of the libraries, they may need Acquisitions help. Acquisitions is where the patron can make a request to have a certain material sent to their library so they can check it out. Acquisitions needs to check for bibliographic verification, this is when they check if the material exists, is in print, and can be sent to the library. If these two things were not at libraries, the patron would most likely just leave because if the library doesn't have their material, they can't do their research.  If the student is looking for special materials that aren't able to be checked out, Special Collections is the place for them. This is where materials are held that aren't available to the general public. This also includes the Archives, where materials are held that may not serve a certain purpose but are available. The student may find a periodical that has to do with the civil rights movement and Obama but they are only able to view it in the library. 

When the student has the materials they need and are ready to check out, they head over to circulation. This is where they check out patron's materials and check them back in when they return them. This job not only manages the materials but also deals with public relations as well. They are the first desk that people see when they go into the library so how they treat the public determines if the patron is going to have a good experience or not. 

Knowing what each portion of the library does and how they function is very important for library staff to know because when they know fully how the library operates, they are able to help the patron with anything they need help with. If a library support staff wasn't aware of inter-library loans or Acquisitions, the patron would feel very discouraged and not know what to do next. The library's job is to help the public with knowledge and information and by knowing the full extent that the library can help, you are providing access to the public.