This chapter examines the array of services that libraries provide for users and seeks to identify a range of functions found within various types of libraries that are designed to assist in the provision of those services. It also includes a consideration of the importance of developing information literacy as distinct from computer literacy. The former has taken on a new significance with the growth of online information resources.
Consider the following scenarios:1 It is an afternoon in a large city public library. At one table, a group of older school pupils is working on a local history project. One of them, with a marked visual impairment, is having problems reading the books provided by the local studies librarian. At the issue desk, an asylum seeker is struggling to ask about the local authority services available to her, as a small child tugs at her hand. Two senior citizens are working painstakingly at an internet terminal, apparently trying to send an e-mail, while a young man in a suit is handing in a request for two new books reviewed in a newspaper the previous weekend. One library assistant is on the phone, apparently answering an enquiry about the computer literacy courses on offer.2 In the library of a large firm of architects, one of the two librarians is updating the online catalogue of building regulations, remembering that, once that is done, she will have to notify all those who have indicated that they need to be kept up to date with developments and changes. Meanwhile, the other librarian is searching a commercial online database for recent reports on solar panels in connection with the firm's bid for a new waterfront redevelopment programme. The most recent book acquisitions still sit on a shelf, awaiting cataloguing.3 It's exam time, and there is a palpable air of concentration (and panic) in the university library. Undergraduates are spread throughout every level, some heavily occupied with textbooks from the short loan collection, others using the library's internet terminals or their own laptops. A lecturer, temporarily freed from classes and not yet with any marking, is trying to catch up with the journals in her field.