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Special Libraries, Their Supporting Institutions, And Metropolitan Problems

Graduate School of Library Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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  • Libraries And Metropolitan Areas
  • Education
  • Political Science


ot long ago Ervin J. Gaines* took Ralph Blasingame^ to task over an implicit assumption in an article he had written, an assumption which made everything seem so simple: that reading is vital to life, and if the idea were projected further, that libraries are vital to reading. Gaines went on, "True, it may be vital to the middle class, but is it vital to a migrant farm worker?' Many persons and groups in our twentieth century society see little need for easy access to organized collections of books. Few citizens, though, would argue against libraries unless they are compelled to place them in priority with other public services such as highways, police protection, schools, or sewage treatment. Government officials and school and college administrators, too, are unpredictable as to their reaction to libraries. What then of the Special Library, that poorly defined type of library which came into being without the security of citizen education and service? It is heartening to hear of enlightened administrators in corporations, government agencies, hospitals, museums, and similar institutions who understand and appreciate what a library can do for them, or why a library should be considered for their own organization. How often, though, are there reports of special libraries passing out of existence and how rare an occurrence is this in the college, school, and public library world? Not unusual is a letter such as one dated Monday, July 26, 1965: "Last Friday . . . management informed me that the Research Library was immediately discontinued in connection with drastic reduction of all Research activities."

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