FLASHBACKS/INSIGHTS

21st century special libraries

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Part 2
LIKE academic libraries, special libraries have likewise changed in many ways to keep up with the digital world. Special libraries are more of “connection than collection” these days. The fact that people are “acknowledging the importance of knowledge sharing and knowledge exploitation,” “many organizations (are) revisiting their library resources and expertise and as a result (are) re-establishing attractive library facilities.” <htttp://slq.nu/?article=the-special-library-bridging-the-physical-and-digital-arenas>. They have become “more or less completely digitized in order to survive.” Their design has been dictated by modes of information gathering of this century. Some have become more virtual such as the Chan Robles On-Line Philippine Legal Resources.

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How different are special libraries from other libraries? Special libraries are also referred to as “Information Centers, Information Analysis Centers, Documentation Centers, Information Resource Centers or Knowledge Management Centers. <https://www.degruyter.com/download pdf/books/…68/9783598441349.68.xml><https://books.google.com.ph/books?isbn=3598441347>. Given these various labels, society generally agrees that they serve to address a limited clientele—specific users who need information for specific purposes and often in a specific discipline or field and usually on a highly specialized level. However, there are special libraries that are opened to the wider public such as archives on Rizal’s writings, or on similar subjects where a wider clientele may have need to obtain information.<https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/books/…68/9783598441349.68.xml>. The Association of Special Libraries of the Philippines (ASLP) describes special libraries as libraries established and supported by private and government agencies, corporations, research institutions, international organizations, and others (i.e. academic, school) that collect, manage, preserve, and provide immediate access to knowledge resources dealing with specialized subjects, and focused information services to their clientele.” Similarly, the US Special Libraries Association describes what special libraries do—where “…information is evaluated, analyzed, organized, packaged, and presented in a manner that maximizes its usefulness.” <lis6010blog.blogspot.com/2009/06/special-libraries-interesting-thing.html>.The University of Maryland describes special libraries as special collections with three qualifiers: “Rarity: books, manuscripts and other materials that are old, scarce or unique. Format: photographs, slides, films, audio recordings, maps, artworks, artifacts and other objects that need special handling. Comprehensiveness: accumulation of materials that are individually not unique, but collectively make up an important resource because of their relevance to a particular topic or individual.”<ovespeciallibraries.blogspot.com/2012/04/what-are-special-libraries.html>.
Kinds of special libraries. They could be “special collections” in “public libraries” or libraries in corporate entities, government agencies, historical societies, archives, academic institutions, professional organizations, and social societies.” <lovespeciallibraries.blogspot.com/2012/04/what-are-special-libraries.html>.Their ownership “varies and includes role players such as governments and their departments, non-governmental agencies, commercial firms and news agencies.” <https://www.degruyter.com/down loadpdf/books/…68/9783598441349.68.xml>. These are support to corporations consisting of readily available digital or hard copies of references saving time for staff and “can aid in competitive intelligence work.”<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_library>.In universities, where professional degree programs are offered, there would be a law library and/or a medical library often referred to as special libraries and which may carry the donor’s name if so funded. Universities with special libraries for a specific academic program usually would have access to experts in the field, such as to well-known members of the Philippine Judicial Academy who were awarded Metrobank-donated professorial chairs for Remedial Law, Constitutional Law, Commercial Law, International and Human Rights Law, Environmental Law and Constitutional Law.<philja.judiciary.gov.ph/assets/files/…/MetrobankProfessorialChair_Lecturesopt.pdf> Wikipedia and similar sources also lists other special libraries such as those in museums, “federal libraries, military libraries, music libraries, transportation libraries, correctional institution libraries, performing arts libraries, theological libraries, botanical libraries, art libraries, music libraries and news libraries and hemeroteca.” The latter is a “digital Periodicals library of soft copies of old magazines and old newspapers of Spain and Latin America.” Note also The Manila Times has “A Page from the Past” featured in daily issues, from its News Library.

The role of special libraries. A majority of special libraries exist to supplement an existing organization by “handling [its]specialized information resources” (Molholt, p. 3). Often, “members of the parent organization turn to these libraries for very specific and very subject-specific answers (Williams). It is implicit that their queries be answered in a well-researched, fact-checked and correct package in a timely fashion.”
<lis6010blog.blogspot.com/2009/06/special-libraries-interesting-thing.html>. Necessarily, these libraries focus their services to “specific information needs of the organizations that they serve in order to increase productivity and efficiency of the parent organization.” Besides “facilitating information acquisition of staff and saving much time in probing much needed information, such libraries ensure better decision making in the organization.” Such libraries clearly show that “they help promote institutional goals.”<https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf /books/..68/9783598 441349.68.xml>

The Association of Special Libraries of the Philippines (ASLP). The ASLP is a non-stock, non-profit organization of special librarians from government institutions, private sectors, business community and the academe. As a professional organization, it conducts activities to “stimulate professional enhancement of its members” in both theory and practice and works to strengthen “partnerships and linkages among special libraries in the Philippines and abroad.”. Last April I was with this very active association during its conference in Cagayan de Oro City. Ms Alice Paraiso, a special friend and former librarian at the Goethe Institut Philippinen in Makati had me meet the vibrant group of officers who had another friend, famous for popular history, Mr. Ambeth Ocampo of Ateneo de Manila, speak on “Bringing History Closer to Millennials.” True to its being a professional organization disseminating theory and practice, ASLP has all the seminar lectures available in one website. For the papers read, please refer to <https://aslpwiki.wikispaces.com
/Forums%2C+Seminars%2Conferences+andOther+Activities>

Email: ttumapon@liceo.edu.ph

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