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Library Users

1. Introduction: Libraries are developed to meet the information needs of a group of people who are commonly termed as library users.  In fact, all the staff, collection, services aims to satisfy the users only. As such, user is the focal point of all information activities at all levels in any kinds of library. There are various terms like client, patron, reader, user, customer, inquirer, member, etc., which are used to refer to those who use a library.

2. Definition: The person, who is actively seeking access to the data / information / knowledge available in the libraries and who when successful, obtains and uses the data / information / knowledge, is described as a library user.
According to Kenneth Whittaker, a user may be defined as “a person who uses one or more library’s services at least once a year.”

3. Types of Users: Unlike other system or services, users are human and therefore difficult to classify. Users can be grouped by the type of activities they perform in the library. In a university library, users are the students, research scholars, faculties and the staff. In case of the public library, the users are general people, students, research scholars, businessmen, and others. It can be assumed that in the public libraries the users are almost heterogeneous and in academic and special libraries the users are almost homogeneous in nature. Users can also be classified according to their age group as children, young adult, and adult.
The population in and around a library can be of two types- users and non-users.
a) Non-Users: Those who do not use a library would be considered non-users.
b) Users: Users refer to those who use the library resources or availed its services. Generally, users are group into two categories- Actual user and potential user.
i) Actual User: Actual user makes use of the library and its resources. He is a person who obtained data, information or documents from or through libraries and may be understood not only in terms of what the user requests but also in terms of those forms of demand that he satisfies directly.
ii) Potential User: Potential users means the users for whom the library systems or services where designed but who for various reasons do not make use of its resources or services. Potential users may be converted in the course of time into actual or non users by providing orientation, library extension services and so on.
Dr. S. R. Ranganathan has grouped user community on the basis of various types of services enunciated by him. These groups include the following:
a) Fresher: The fresher, or the freshman, is the new member of the library. He/she should be initiated to the library and introduced to the world of books, and how to find them depending upon his/her reading interests.
b) Ordinary Reader: He/she is an ordinary person with demand for ordinary books, and ordinary services from the library.
c) Specialist Reader: A specialist user is one who specializes in a narrow field of a subject. His demand for books will also be specific and research oriented.
d) General Reader: This is an assorted group of users which is not included in any of the above user groups.
Werner Kunz et al, on the basis of user approach to information in libraries, categorized the users into the following categories.
a) Potential User: It is the one who needs information but may not be able to express their information requirement properly, hence it can be provided by specific library services oriented to her/him.
b) Expected User: It is the one who is known to have the intention of using certain information services.
c) Actual User: It is the one who has actually used an information service regardless of whether he/she has derived any advantage from it or not.
d) Beneficiary User: It is the one who derives a measurable advantage from the information services provided by the library.
            Kenneth Whittaker categorizes users as follow:
a) General Readers: They concentrate on the use of light reading materials available in the Library.
b) Subject Readers: They concentrate on the use of library materials available on a subject field of their interest.
c) Special Readers: They are having special information needs, need some special library services E.g. visually impaired users.
d) Non-Reading Users: They make use of library materials, but not reading materials E.g. coming into the library just to borrow a video or audio cassette.

4. Users Right in the Library: The users have the following right in the library environment
a) Access to Accurate Information: The government/parent body spends on libraries so that it adds value to the user. As such, users have the right to expect that the data / information available in the library have the accuracy.
b) Access to Timely Information: The user has the right to assume that the information will be delivered in a reasonable time frame.
c) Access to Adequate Training: There should be a timely, complete, and interactive level of training that meets the schedule of the users.

5. Users Obligation in the Library: The users in the library supposed to follow the following rules
a) Know and Respect Library Rules: The user should try their best to know the basic rules of the library and are supposed to follow them.
b) Respect Copyright Laws:  The users have to educate themselves about copyright laws, intellectual property rights, and other limitations on how information can be used and shared.
c) Report Problems: Report all issues or problems to the library staff in a timely manner and with proper decorum.

6. Conclusion: The general categories of users will vary from library to library. In a public library the users may include professionals, students, housewife, layman, and businessman and so on. When it comes to information, the right of the users becomes obligations of the librarians. The library staff should make time to interact with the users during their visit to the library. This will allow the library staff to keep up-to-date with the users changing needs.

How to Cite this Article?
APA Citation, 7th Ed.:  Barman, B. (2020). A comprehensive book on Library and Information Science. New Publications.
Chicago 16th Ed.:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. Guwahati: New Publications, 2020.
MLA Citation 8th Ed:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. New Publications, 2020.

Badan BarmanDr. Badan Barman at present working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science, Gauhati University, Guwahati-781014, Assam, India. He is the creator of the LIS Links ( - India’s most popular social networking website for Library and Information Science professionals. He also created the Open Access Journals Search Engine (OAJSE) (, UGC NET Guide (, Assam Archive ( and LIS Study ( website.

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