Culture, Heritage and Diversity

Glossary of terms occurring in the Council of Europe/EBLIDA Guidelines concerning Library Legislation and Policy in Europe

A brief glossary of terms occurring in the guidelines that have specialised meanings in the context of library and information work and are not in common use.

Book world

The whole universe of those individuals and organisations writing, printing, binding, publishing, publicising, reviewing, wholesaling, retailing, buying, reading, collecting, lending, preserving, listing, describing, writing about, and carrying out other related activities, concerned with books and other printed materials.


Unsystematic surveying of library materials by users, with a view to identifying items of interest.

Collection development

The process of managing the acquisition, organisation, preservation, and, when appropriate, discarding of library materials, in relation to the needs of the user community.

Collective bargaining bodies

Organisations given the power to negotiate agreements, including rates of payment, on behalf of groups of institutions such as libraries, with the producers and suppliers of products and services, such as intellectual property rights.

Digital library

An institution that provides access to electronic information resources whether in the form of packages (disks, tapes, etc.) owned by the library, or held at remote sites and accessed by communications technology.

Document delivery

Systems for obtaining documents that are not held by a library, whether this is done by interlibrary loan, supply from a central repository, or supply from an electronic store of documents.

Free access

Access to information and communication that is subject to no unnecessary restriction, and is preferably free of charge to the user.

Information materials

A broad term designed to encompass information held on the whole possible range of media including, amongst others, manuscript, print, microform, audio, graphics, film, video, optical and digital.

Information services

The activities of libraries and other institutions that provide people with information, but sometimes used to refer to those institutions themselves.

Knowledge industries

The business and industrial sector that compiles, manufactures, distributes and sells information products and services such as books, recordings, databases, films, videos, broadcast programmes, and multimedia products.

Library education

The education of information professionals who will work in libraries and other forms of information services, both public and commercial. There are ‘library schools’ in most parts of the world providing such education, usually attached to universities, and often accredited by library associations and other professional bodies.


In this context, refers to rightsholders permitting access to intellectual property resources, such as software, databases, multimedia and electronic publications under the terms of a contractual agreement, rather than by outright sale. Such licenses commonly specify matters such as the number of permitted users, purposes allowed for use and limitations on copying and extraction of content.

Networked information

Information resources placed on open computer systems capable of being accessed via communications systems, such as the Internet.

Professional librarian

Someone with a recognised educational qualification and/or suitable training for the management of libraries and performance of the more demanding and specialised aspects of library work.

Public access points

Networked computer workstations provided by institutions such as libraries, so that people can use them for the whole range of cultural, leisure, educational and professional purposes.

Service points

Those places either within a library (reference desk, issue desk, information desk) or outside (branch library, mobile library stopping place) where all, or aspects, of library functions can be accessed by users.

Special libraries

Term often used to cover all those libraries not included within the public, national and academic categories. They have their specialist clientele and specialised subject coverage in common and are found in both in the public and private sectors.

User community

A group of people identified by a library as those for whom its services are provided. Usually this group will be defined so as to include potential users as well as actual users.