Public libraries fulfill a triple function: the preservation of knowledge , the dissemination of culture and research . Likewise, it has an unquestionable social function, since it provides information through books, magazines, digital and audiovisual materials, newspapers and other supports.
As its name suggests, it is a public center and as such it is aimed at any individual who has the desire to improve their education and expand their culture.
Origin and development of libraries and the appearance of the first public institutions
The first written formats were in stone and tablet. These systems were not useful for preserving information and it was necessary to create other more effective formats: papyrus, parchment, and finally paper.
In the third century BC. C was founded the most famous in history, the Library of Alexandria. The great sages came to her to know the contents of the more than five hundred thousand scrolls guarded. In the third century AD. C the library caught fire and all the knowledge that was in it was forgotten. However, the Alexandria library served as inspiration for the creation of the first public libraries from the 17th century onwards.
Originally they were created to promote literacy among citizens and to make culture accessible to society as a whole. Let’s think that before these public spaces, there were only monastic, university or private libraries.
Services and activities of a public library
The main service it offers is free consultation or loan of books. Gratuity has an obvious meaning: that everyone can access knowledge regardless of their social class or economic situation. In this sense, it is an institution that facilitates the permanent education and cultural progress of a community.
Some of the most common services are the following: use of reading rooms, access to archives, bibliographic orientation , consultation of digital funds, services for users with special needs, access to the newspaper archive and internet access service.
On the other hand, these public institutions also organize all kinds of recreational and cultural activities: book clubs, guided tours, exhibitions, conferences, colloquia, etc.
A center for research
In many research works it is necessary to go to obtain information. The researcher has the technical advice of the librarian and, at the same time, has access to properly ordered documents and files.
As a general rule, each country has its own national library, a public institution where researchers can access the bibliographic heritage of a nation.