A library that is funded from taxes and other public sources is called a public library. It is open to the general public and is run by library professionals and librarians. They are civil servants because their service affects the public interest.
The best thing about a public library is that its collection is accessible to any community member.
There is no particular distinction between the readers or the visitors maintained within its space. That is the reason why a public library is different from a school or a research library. It empowers the literary circle of a locality.
Advantages and Disadvantages of public libraries-
Pros of Public Libraries:
- Open to all:
One of the best features of a public library is that it is open to the members of all the communities. It is not necessary for you to have a particular degree or designation to enter a public library.
Probably you may require a gate pass or a membership card; but you do not have to adhere to any particular standard or policy to become a member of a public library.
- Aided by public funds:
These libraries are generally funded from taxes paid by the common people. That is the reason why they are affordable and accessible to anyone. In fact, the unique selling point of a public library is that it is free.
All you have to do is return your books within a specific time frame. Even the fine they charge is a nominal sum.
- A huge collection of books:
It is true that the internet provides all the information that you need these days, but the smell of a book is irrevocable. The experience that you gather in a library is beyond all the technical aids you seek elsewhere. Some of the best libraries are popular for preserving antique books and editions which you may not find on the internet.
- Promote reading:
Public libraries are local centers for avid readers and book lovers. Not only can you borrow certain books from a library, but also you can find a comfortable space to explore and read them.
You can hold literary meetings and discuss the works of various authors. All in all, a public library empowers the reading community of a locality in ways more than one.
- Job of a librarian:
A library professional or a librarian has a job that offers security. He is considered a civil servant who serves the general public. He is surrounded by stacks of books and helps the visitors find the books they need to borrow. He receives a decent salary and enjoys certain benefits.
- Research assistance:
Public libraries are not entirely research libraries, but they do provide research assistance. Some of the public libraries assist students and researchers in finding reliable reference materials, important papers, and reference guides.
- Some other services:
There are public libraries that keep separate collections of DVDs, audiobooks and even ebooks. They offer bookmobile service, internet service and some of them are even equipped with computer labs.
A board of prominent directors operates a public library. Some of them are also aided by national or state governments and patrons. Most of the public libraries have legal authorization and authentic funding sources.
- Public welfare:
Public libraries are primarily established in the general public interest. They have a major contribution in cultivating the literary culture of a place and promoting community wellbeing. Public libraries are important centers where exhibitions and other literary events can be hosted.
Cons of Public Libraries:
- Traditional structure:
One of the biggest disadvantages of public libraries is their traditional structure. With a fast-growing economy and the development of technological aids, people are becoming more dependent on the facilities provided by the internet.
The traditional mode of reading, hence, has been replaced by free PDFs and ebooks that are easily available everywhere.
- Fixed time frame:
Libraries are operated by one major principle and that is the whole idea of borrowing and lending books. If you borrow a book from a library, you have to finish reading it within a fixed time frame.
If you fail to do that, you will have to pay the fine. This is a crucial problem faced by slow readers or people who cannot afford to buy expensive books.
They have no other option but to rely on public libraries and as a result, they probably cannot enjoy reading a book within that fixed time period.
- Issues in cataloging books:
A public library occupies a huge space and cataloging books is indeed a mammoth task. You may not find a book in a specific section due to a lack of cohesive categorization.
Unless the library professionals are skilled enough, these practical issues may trouble the readers.
- Public Libraries are cheap:
Public libraries are undoubtedly cheap. This fact alone benefits a lot of people, but it has certain disadvantages as well.
Since the library officials charge a nominal fine, many people do not feel obligated to return their books in perfect conditions. There have been several cases where the library authorities have found that the pages of a book are torn or marked.
Hence, it becomes really difficult for some of the public libraries to preserve certain books.
Many public libraries are not equipped with adequate security facilities pertaining to which many antique books run the risk of getting stolen. Rare manuscripts, antique editions, books signed by the authors need extra protection but unfortunately, many public libraries fail to preserve them.
- Limited space:
No matter how large a public library is, it has limited space and can contain a fixed number of books. However, digital libraries can contain multiple books and there is no restraint.
Nevertheless, public libraries have their own charm. Nothing can compete with the genuine experience that a book provides. Our generation is prone to avail shortcuts and that is why the habit of reading books is becoming obsolete. But these public libraries can restore that and enrich our literary culture.
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