One-Person Libraries

Authored by: Judith A. Siess

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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A one-person librarian (OPL) is a person who works in a one-person library. What does that mean? An OPL is the only librarian (or only professional librarian) in a library or information center. The OPL does everything from acquisitions, cataloging, circulation, and reference, even dusting the shelves and vacuuming the carpet, if necessary. It is a situation in which there are no professional peers with whom to share problems and ideas, or to commiserate with when things get tough. The OPL often does not have to go through layers of administration to get approval for purchases or new programs. OPLs know exactly what is going on their libraries: what is being checked out, what questions are being asked, who is using the library, etc. The OPL is often perceived as the “information guru” in the organization—the one to whom everyone comes for answers. Finally, any and all successes (and, of course, failures) of the library are also those of the OPL. They can make of it whatever is in their vision and power.

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