A public library (also called circulating library) is a library which is accessible by the public and is generally funded from public sources (such as tax monies) and may be operated by civil servants. A library is a collection of information sources resources and services and the structure in which it is housed it is organized for use and maintained by a public body an institution Public is of or pertaining to the people relating to or affecting a nation state or community opposed to private; as the public treasury a road or lake See also Bureaucrat The term civil service has two distinct meanings Branch of governmental service in which individuals are hired on the basis Taxing bodies for public libraries may be at the municipal, district covering several municipalities, county, state, or federal level. A township (or Municipality) is a settlement which has the status and powers of a unit of local government Districts are a type of Administrative division, in some countries managed by a Local government. A county is a Land area of Regional Government within a larger State. A state is a political association with effective Sovereignty over a geographic Area and representing a Population. Central government or the national government (or in Federal states the Federal government) is the Government at the level of the Nation-state
Public libraries exist in most nations of the world and are often considered an essential part of having an educated and literate population. Public libraries are distinct from research libraries, school libraries, or other special libraries in that their mandate is to serve the public's information needs generally (rather than serve a particular school, institution, or research population). A research library is a Library which contains an in-depth collection of material on one or several subjects A school library is a Library attached to and managed by a school to serve the students staff and often parents of a public (state or private (fee paying Special Libraries Association ( SLA) is a Professional association for librarian and information professionals working in business government law firms Public libraries typically are lending libraries, allowing users to take books and other materials off the premises; they also have non-circulating reference collections. A lending library is a Library from which books are lent out The earliest reference or use of the term 'lending library located in English correspondence dates back to at In general a reference is a relation between objects in which one object designates by linking to another object Public libraries typically focus on popular materials such as popular fiction and movies, as well as educational and nonfiction materials of interest to the general public; Internet access is also often offered. Fiction is the telling of stories which are not real More specifically fiction is an imaginative form of Narrative, one of the four basic Rhetorical modes. Non-fiction is an account or representation of a subject which is presented as Fact. The Internet is a global system of interconnected Computer networks
In addition to print books and periodicals, most public libraries today have a wide array of other media including music CDs, computer software, movies on video tape, and DVD, as well as facilities to access the Internet. A Book is a set or collection of written printed illustrated or blank sheets made of Paper, Parchment, or other material usually fastened together Magazines, periodicals or serials are Publications generally published on a regular schedule containing a variety of articles, generally A Compact Disc (also known as a CD) is an Optical disc used to store digital data, originally developed for storing digital audio DVD (also known as " Digital Versatile Disc " or " Digital Video Disc " - see Etymology)is The Internet is a global system of interconnected Computer networks Some public libraries use outside services, such as OverDrive, Inc. or OCLC's NetLibrary, to provide patrons with downloadable eBooks, audiobooks, music, and video. OverDrive is a digital distributor of downloadable EBooks, Audiobooks, music and video titles The OCLC Online Computer Library Center is according to its website a "nonprofit membership computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purpose An e-book (for electronic book: also ebook) is the Digital media equivalent of a conventional printed Book. Public libraries may also provide other services, such as community meeting rooms, storytelling for infants, toddlers, and children, or after-school programs. In person and on-line programs for homework help, language learning and other community service programs are common offerings. One of the most popular programs offered in public libraries are summer reading programs for children, families, and adults. In rural areas, the local public library may have, in addition to its main branch, a mobile library service, consisting of one or more buses furnished as a small public library, serving the countryside according to a regular schedule. A bookmobile or mobile library is a large Vehicle designed for use as a Library.
Public libraries also provide materials for children that include books, videos and DVDs, music CDs, and other materials (both fiction and nonfiction), often housed in a special section. Child oriented websites with on-line educational games and programs specifically designed for younger library users are becoming increasingly common. A website (alternatively web site or Web site, a back-construction from the Proper noun World Wide Web) is a collection of Web pages Public libraries may also provide services for other particular groups, such as large print or Braille materials, young adult literature and other materials for teenagers, or materials in other than the national language. Large-print (also large-type or large-font) describes a type of book or other (paper online or otherwise published material in which the Typeface (or The Braille system is a method that is widely used by blind people to read and write Young-adult fiction (often abbreviated as YA fiction, or simply YA) is Fiction written for published for or marketed to adolescents roughly between the
Librarians at most public libraries provide reference and research help to the general public, usually at a reference desk but can often be done by telephone interview. A librarian is an information Professional trained in Library and information science, which is the organization and management of information services or materials The reference desk or information desk of a Library is a public service desk where professional Librarians provide library users with direction to library As online discussion and social networking allow for remote access, reference is becoming available virtually through the use of the Internet and e-mail. Online discussion is a relatively new form of Communication, facilitated usually by Computer networks The first such communications were on mainframe-based systems The Internet is a global system of interconnected Computer networks Electronic mail, often abbreviated to e-mail, email, or originally eMail, is a Store-and-forward method of writing sending receiving Depending on the size of the library, there may be more than one desk; at some smaller libraries all transactions may occur at one desk, while large urban public libraries may employ subject-specialist librarians with the ability to staff multiple reference or information desks to answer queries about particular topics at any time of the day or night. Often the children's section in a public library has its own reference desk.
Public libraries in some countries pay authors when their books are borrowed from libraries. These are known as Public Lending Right programs. A Public Lending Right program compensates authors for the potential loss of sales from their works being available in public libraries.
Many claims have been made for the title of "first public library" for various libraries in various countries, with at least some of the confusion arising from differing interpretations of what should be considered a true "public library". Difficulties in establishing what policies were in effect at different times in the history of particular libraries also add to the confusion.
The first libraries open to the public were the collections of Greek and Latin scrolls which were available in the dry sections of the many buildings that made up the huge Roman baths of the Roman empire. A scroll is a roll of Papyrus, Parchment, or Paper which has been written drawn or painted upon for the purpose of transmitting information or using as This page is on buildings used for Roman bathing For the activity in general see Ancient Roman bathing. The Roman Empire was the post-Republican phase of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial However, they were not lending libraries.
The "halls of science" run by different Islamic sects in many cities of North Africa and the Middle East in the 9th century were open to the public. Some of them had written lending policies, but they were very restrictive. Most patrons were expected to consult the books in situ.
The later European university libraries were not open to the general public, but accessible by scholars.
A selection of significant claims made for early libraries operating in a way at least partly analogous to the modern public library is listed below by country, then by date.
In the early years of the seventeenth century many famous collegiate and town libraries — i. The Harris Museum Art Gallery & Preston Free Public Library is a Grade I listed museum building in Preston and has the largest gallery space in Lancashire e. , libraries under the guardianship of municipalities — were founded throughout the country. Norwich library established in 1608 (six years after Thomas Bodley founded the Bodleian Library, which was open to the "whole republic of the learned", and 145 years before the foundation of the British Museum) is said to be the first provincial town library under municipal control, however, similar claims are made for the Francis Trigge Chained Library of St. Wulfram's Church, Grantham, Lincolnshire which is said to pre-date Norwich library by ten years, being founded in 1598 by the rector of nearby Welbourne. History Roman The Romans had their regional capital at Venta Icenorum on the river to the south which is near modern-day Caistor St Edmund Sir Thomas Bodley ( March 2, 1545 &ndash January 28, 1613) was an English Diplomat and scholar founder of the The Bodleian Library ( the main Research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in England The British Museum is a Museum of human history and culture in London. Francis Trigge Chained Library is a Library in Grantham, Lincolnshire, England which was founded in 1598 Grantham is a Market town within the South Kesteven district of Lincolnshire, England. Lincolnshire (abbreviated Lincs) is a county in the east of England.
Other early town libraries of the UK include those of Ipswich (1612), Bristol (founded in 1613 and opened in 1615), and Leicester (1632). Manchester Central Library is a circular Library next to the extended Town Hall in Manchester, England. Ipswich ( ˈɪpswɪtʃ is a Non-metropolitan district and the County town of Suffolk, England on the Estuary of the River Orwell Bristol ( ˈbrɪstəl is a city, Unitary authority and ceremonial county in South West England, west of London Leicester (ˈlɛstə is the largest city and Unitary authority area in the East Midlands of England, and is the traditional Shrewsbury School also opened its library to townsfolk. 
Other antecedents are claimed: In Bristol, an early public library was that of the Kalendars or Kalendaries, a brotherhood of clergy and laity who were attached to the Church of All-Hallowen or All Saints. Records show that in 1464, provision was made for a library to be erected in the house of the Kalendars, and reference is made to a deed of that date by which it was "appointed that all who wish to enter for the sake of instruction shall have ‘free access and recess’ at certain times".
Although by the mid-nineteenth century, England could claim 274 subscription libraries and Scotland, 266, the foundation of the modern public library system in the UK is the Public Libraries Act 1850. A Subscription Library (also membership or independent library is a Library that is supported by private funds raised by membership fees or endowments The Public Libraries Act 1850 is an Act of the British Parliament. Prior to this, the municipalities of Warrington and Salford established libraries in their museums, under the terms of the Museums Act of 1845. Warrington is a large town borough and Unitary authority area in Cheshire, England. Salford lies at the heart of the City of Salford, a Metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester, in North West England. Manchester was the first library to operate a freelending library without subscription in 1852 . Norwich lays claims to being the first municipality to adopt the Public Libraries Act 1850 (which allowed any municipal borough of 100,000 souls to introduce a halfpenny rate to establish public libraries - although not to buy books), but theirs was the eleventh library to open, in 1857, being the eleventh in the country after Winchester, Manchester, Liverpool, Bolton, Kidderminster, Cambridge, Birkenhead and Sheffield. History Roman The Romans had their regional capital at Venta Icenorum on the river to the south which is near modern-day Caistor St Edmund Winchester or Winton ( archaic) is a historic city in southern England, with a population of around 40000 within a radius of its centre Liverpool ( is a City and Metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary Bolton ( is a large town in Greater Manchester, in the North West region of England. Kidderminster is a town in the Wyre Forest district of Worcestershire, England. The city of Cambridge (ˈkeɪmbrɪdʒ is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England Birkenhead is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside, England. Sheffield ( is a city and Metropolitan borough in South Yorkshire, England The Scottish-American philanthropist and businessman, Andrew Carnegie, helped to increase the number of public libraries from the late-nineteenth century. Andrew Carnegie (properly kɑrˈneɪgi but commonly /ˈkɑrnɨgi/ or /kɑrˈnɛgi/ (25 November 1835 – 11 August 1919 was a Scottish -born American Industrialist
In 1747, construction began on one of Poland's first, at the time one of the world's best , national public libraries named the Załuski Library in Warsaw. The Załuski Library ( Zalusciana, Biblioteka Załuskich) was built in Warsaw 1747 – 1795 by Józef Andrzej Załuski and Warsaw (Warszawa; also known by other names) is the Capital and Largest city of Poland. In 1794, the library was looted on orders from Catherine II of Russia. Catherine II, called Catherine the Great (Екатерина II Великая Yekaterina II Velikaya;) reigned as Empress of Russia for 34 years Much of the material was returned in the period of 1842-1920, but once again the library was decimated during World War II during the period following the Warsaw Uprising. World War II, or the Second World War, (often abbreviated WWII) was a global military conflict which involved a majority of the world's nations, including The Warsaw Uprising ( Powstanie Warszawskie) was a World War II struggle by the Polish Home Army ( Armia Krajowa) to liberate Warsaw The Załuski Library was succeeded by the creation of the National Library of Poland (Biblioteka Narodowa) in 1928. The Załuski Library ( Zalusciana, Biblioteka Załuskich) was built in Warsaw 1747 – 1795 by Józef Andrzej Załuski and Poland's National Library (Biblioteka Narodowa is a central repository of books and newspapers of Poland.
The Quebec Library, founded in Quebec City in 1779 by Governor Frederick Haldimand, was the first publicly-funded library in the country. Quebec City ( French: Ville de Québec, or simply Québec) (kwɨˈbɛk or /keˈbɛk/ is the Capital of the Canadian province Year 1779 ( MDCCLXXIX) was a Common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common Sir Frederick Haldimand, KB ( August 11, 1718 &ndash June 5, 1791) was a British army officer and governor It later merged with the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, which displays the original Quebec Library collection within its library. The Literary and Historical Society of Quebec (LHSQ was the first scholarly or Learned society in Canada
Library services in Australia developed along very different paths in the different States, as such it is hard to define the origins of the Public Library system in Australia. In 1809 the Reverend Samuel Marsden advertised in England for donations to help found a 'Lending Library for the general benefit of the inhabitants of New South Wales'. The Reverend Samuel Marsden ( 25 June 1765 – 12 May 1838) was a prominent member of the Church Missionary Society, credited with The library would cover 'Divinity and Morals, History, Voyages and Travels, Agriculture in all its branches, Mineralogy and Practical Mechanics'. No Public Library came to fruition from this although some of the books brought to the colony after this call survive in the library of Moore Theological College. Moore Theological College, otherwise known simply as Moore College, is the theological training Seminary of the Diocese of Sydney of the Anglican
The place of Public Libraries was filled by; mechanics' institutes, schools of arts, athenaeums and literary institutes. Some of which provided free library services to visitors, however lending rights were available only to members who were required to pay a subscription.
In 1856, the Victorian colonial government opened the Melbourne Public Library (now the State Library of Victoria). The State Library of Victoria is the central Library of the state of Victoria, Australia, located in Melbourne. This was however purely a reference library.
In September 1869, the New South Wales government opened as the Free Public Library, Sydney (Now the State Library of New South Wales) by purchasing a bankrupt subscription library. The State Library of New South Wales (also known as the Mitchell Library) is a large public library owned by the state of New South Wales, Australia
In 1896, the Brisbane Public Library was established. The Library's collection, purchased by the Queensland Government from the private collection of Mr Justice Harding.
In 1932, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, funded a survey (The Munn-Pitt Report) into Australian libraries. It found 'wretched little institutes' which were 'cemeteries of old and forgotten books'. There was also criticism of the limited public access, poor staff training, unsatisfactory collections, lack of non-fiction, absence of catalogues and poor levels of service for children. Lending libraries in Sydney (NSW) and Prahran (Victoria) were praised as examples of services which were doing well, but these were seen as exceptions.
In NSW, The Free Library Movement was set up on the back of the Munn-Pitt Report. This collection of (amongst others) concerned citizens, progress associations, Returned Servicemen and trade Unions advocated for a system of Public Libraries to serve the needs of all people. This movement was stalled by the declaration of war in 1939.
The passing of Library Acts in the states at the end of the war marked the beginning of modern public libraries in Australia.
In 1943, the Queensland Parliament passed the Libraries Act, establishing the Library Board of Queensland to manage the operations of the Public Library of Queensland, and coordinate and improve library facilities throughout the State of Queensland. The Parliament of Queensland is the Legislature of Queensland, Australia. The State Library of Queensland is a large public library provided to the people of the State of Queensland, Australia, by the State Government.
In November 1943, at the official opening of the new Public Library of New South Wales building, William McKell, the New South Wales Premier, announced that the Library Act would be fully proclaimed from 1 January 1944.
Even after the war, the development of free lending libraries in Australia had been agonizingly slow: it was not until the 1960s that local governments began to establish public libraries in suburban areas.
In the United States, among other countries, libraries in financially-strapped communities compete with other public institutions such as police, firefighters, and schools. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the Police are agents or agencies usually of the executive, empowered to enforce the law and to effect public and social order through the legitimatized use of force Firefighters are rescuers extensively trained primarily to put out hazardous Fires that threaten civilian populations and property to rescue people from car accidents collapsed A school (from Greek σχολεῖον - scholeion) is an Institution designed to allow and encourage Students (or "pupils"
Many communities are closing down or reducing the capability of their library systems, at the same time balancing their budgets. Jackson County, Oregon (US), closed its entire 15-branch library system for six months in 2007, reopening with a reduced schedule. Jackson County is a county located in the US state of Oregon. This example of a funding problem followed the failure to pass of a bond measure and cessation of federal funding for counties with dwindling timber revenue, in a state with no sales tax. A bond measure is an Initiative to sell bonds for the purpose of acquiring Funds for various Public works projects such as research transportation A sales tax is a Consumption tax charged at the Point of purchase for certain goods and services  In December 2004, Salinas, California almost became the first city in the United States to completely close down its entire library system. December 2004: ← - January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September Salinas is the County seat and largest municipality of Monterey County in the U A tax increase passed by the voters in November 2005 allowed the libraries to open, but hours remain limited. The American Library Association says media reports it has compiled in 2004 showed some $162 million in funding cuts to libraries nationwide. The American Library Association ( ALA) is a group based in the United States that promotes libraries and library education internationally .
Survey data suggests the public values free public libraries. A Public Agenda survey in 2006 reported 84 percent of the public said maintaining free library services should be a top priority for their local library. But the survey also found the public was mostly unaware of financial difficulties facing their libraries. The survey did not ask those surveyed whether they valued free library services more than other specific services, such as firefighting. 
In various cost-benefit studies libraries continue to provide an exceptional return on the dollar.