Types of Libraries

There are many types of libraries that vary in audience, and scope and depth of collections. Students are often most familiar with the media centers, school libraries, and public libraries within their schools and communities. But, how does the W. Frank Steely Library, an academic library, differ from these familiar libraries? And, how is Steely different from other academic libraries or special libraries? This tutorial seeks to generally characterize all of the types of libraries that exist, to help students be aware of how libraries are alike and differ.

  School Libraries and Media Centers Public Libraries Academic Libraries Academic Research Libraries Special Libraries Special Academic Libraries
Description     Typically undergraduate libraries and the libraries of small colleges and universities, includes community colleges. The libraries of large, research universities. Typically law, business, and medical libraries; most are private, but some are open to the public. Typically law, business, and medical libraries connected to colleges and universities.
Examples Campbell County High School Library; Alexandria Elementary Library Campbell County Public Library; Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County W. Frank Steely Library (Northern Kentucky University); McDonald Library (Xavier University) William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky); Walter C. Langsam Library (University of Cincinnati) Hamilton County Law Library; Lloyd Library and Museum Chase Law Library (Northern Kentucky University); Education Library (University of Kentucky)
Mission To support the curricular and recreational needs of K-12 students. To support the information, recreational, business, and citizenship needs of the community. To support the curricular needs of students, and faculty research. To support the curricular needs of students, and faculty research. To support the information needs of the related, parent organization. To support the curricular needs of students, and faculty research of the affiliated college or department.
Primary Users Kindergarten through secondary (high school) students who attend the school. Everyone who lives within the geographic boundary, typically a city, county, or other municipality. Freshmen to post graduate students and faculty who attend or work for the college or university. Freshmen to doctoral candidates and faculty who attend or work for the college or university. Professionals and technicians working for or with the related, parent organization. Freshmen to doctoral candidates and faculty who attend or work for the college or department.
Classification and Organization of the Collection Dewey or other local system Dewey Library of Congress Library of Congress Dewey, Library of Congress, or other local system Library of Congress
General Scope of the Collection Collection covers kindergarten through secondary (high school) disciplines and curricular topics with little depth. Depending on the size and wealth of the library system, the collection covers a wide variety of topics and disciplines with little depth. Collection covers all disciplines, as well as the curricular and related topics with a medium to great level of depth. Collection covers all disciplines, as well as the curricular and related topics with an exhaustive level of depth, often collecting materials in all languages and from a wide historical perspective. Collection focuses on a specific set of topics (law, medicine, business, etc...) with an exhaustive level of depth. Collection covers disciplines, as well as the curricular and related topics with an exhaustive level of depth, often collecting materials in all languages and from a wide historical perspective.
Common Collection Formats Age-related popular books, magazines, newspapers and curriculum related books. Popular books, magazines, newspapers, CD’s, DVD’s, etc..., as well as some scholarly, professional, or technical works in those formats. Scholarly, professional, or technical books, journals, trade publications, newspapers, indices, bibliographies, CD’s, DVD’s electronic resources, government documents, etc... Scholarly, professional, or technical books, journals, trade publications, newspapers, indices, bibliographies, CD’s, DVD’s electronic resources, government documents, etc... Scholarly, professional, or technical books, journals, trade publications, newspapers, electronic resources, government documents, etc... Scholarly, professional, or technical books, journals, trade publications, newspapers, indices, bibliographies, CD’s, DVD’s electronic resources, government documents, etc...
Additional Collections Collections for the teachers and administrators. Depending on the size, wealth, and history of the library system, additional collections will often focus on local history and interest. The library may have a collection of rare books. Exhaustive collections of local and institutional history and interest. The library may have a collection of rare books, as well as a recreational collection. Exhaustive collections of local and institutional history and interest. The library will have a large collection of rare books, much of which will be connected to the disciplines and related topics taught. The library may have a recreational collection. Depending on the type, size, wealth, and history of the parent organization, the library may have a collection of local and institutional history and interest. The library may have a collection of rare books. Exhaustive collections of local and institutional history and interest connected to the college or departments curriculum. The library may have a large collection of rare books, much of which will be connected to the disciplines and related topics taught.

Steely Library phone number:  859.572.5457