What is public library all about? The management and services?
The public library is an institution provided usually by a state, city or municipality. Public library services are provided equally for all citizens or inhabitants of a certain area (state, city, commune etc.) regardless of age and economical, social or cultural background. The aim is to give people access to knowledge, information, education, recreation and experience by means of literature, audio- or audiovisual recordings, IT-services and different forms of personal information service. Public library services may also include occasional art exhibitions, educational presentations, musical or literary performances and so on.
In practice, this means that the library users may borrow books and other material from a library or read/listen/watch them in the library. In many libraries, at least in Europe and the United States, also computers with access to Internet and also local information networks are provided for the users. These services are very important especially for people who cannot afford computers or Internet access in their homes or who read a lot and cannot afford to buy many interesting or important books. Non-fiction literature also provides information and knowledge for anyone wishing to educate her/himself or engage in a hobby.
Public library management reaches from the top management of state or municipal services (which provide the money for the libraries) to the local library management, that is people who work in the library management and libraries and who in turn are responsible for providing the services and materials the local library users need for the purposes mentioned above.
The Finnish library system today is acknowledged world wide to be one of the most successfull and influential library systems in the world. The concept of public library applied in Finland since (approximately) the turn of the 20th century is largely derived from ideas from 19th and 20th century North America and based on the idea of democracy and equality in society.
More information about Public Libaries, see:
UNESCO libraries portal
UNESCO Public Library Manifesto 1994 (download .rtf-file)
Ministry of Education Finland: Culture: Public libaries http://www.minedu.fi/minedu/culture/public_libraries.html