Most libraries have materials arranged in a specified order according to a library classification system, so that items may be located quickly and collections may be browsed efficiently. Some libraries have additional galleries beyond the public ones, where reference materials are stored. These reference stacks may be open to selected members of the public. Others require patrons to submit a "stack request," which is a request for an assistant to retrieve the material from the closed stacks: see List of closed stack libraries (in progress).
Larger libraries are often divided into departments staffed by both paraprofessionals and professional librarians.
- Circulation (or Access Services) – Handles user accounts and the loaning/returning and shelving of materials.
- Collection Development – Orders materials and maintains materials budgets.
- Reference – Staffs a reference desk answering questions from users (using structured reference interviews), instructing users, and developing library programming. Reference may be further broken down by user groups or materials; common collections are children's literature, young adult literature, and genealogy materials.
- Technical Services – Works behind the scenes cataloging and processing new materials and deaccessioning weeded materials.
- Stacks Maintenance – Re-shelves materials that have been returned to the library after patron use and shelves materials that have been processed by Technical Services. Stacks Maintenance also shelf reads the material in the stacks to ensure that it is in the correct library classification order.
Basic tasks in library management include the planning of acquisitions (which materials the library should acquire, by purchase or otherwise), library classification of acquired materials, preservation of materials (especially rare and fragile archival materials such as manuscripts), the deaccessioning of materials, patron borrowing of materials, and developing and administering library computer systems. More long-term issues include the planning of the construction of new libraries or extensions to existing ones, and the development and implementation of outreach services and reading-enhancement services (such as adult literacy and children's programming).
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published several standards regarding the management of libraries through its Technical Committee 46 (TC 46), which is focused on "libraries, documentation and information centers, publishing, archives, records management, museum documentation, indexing and abstracting services, and information science". The following is a partial list of some of them:
- ISO 2789:2006 Information and documentation — International library statistics
- ISO 11620:1998 Information and documentation — Library performance indicators
- ISO 11799:2003 Information and documentation — Document storage requirements for archive and library materials
- ISO 14416:2003 Information and documentation — Requirements for binding of books, periodicals, serials and other paper documents for archive and library use — Methods and materials
- ISO/TR 20983:2003 Information and documentation — Performance indicators for electronic library services
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