National Libraries

Authored by: Ian McGowan

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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The entry describes the various attempts that have been made to define the role and functions of national libraries. The historical background is reviewed, beginning with the royal libraries of Europe, and examining the growth in the number of national libraries in nineteenth-century Latin America and in the postcolonial world of the twentieth century, leading to the most recent wave of national library creation following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The main collaborative organizations of national libraries are described and the prospects for national libraries in the changing circumstances of the digital age are considered.

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