Function of Units in the John Harris Library


  Each of the above divisions is made up of units. The functions of these units are visible while some are not. Let us examine each division briefly. The University Librarian's office is the seat of Administration.


   The main function of the University Librarian is to provide library resources and services in the University. To perform this duty successfully Ike (1997) made it clear that, the Librarian should begin by providing himself with clearly stated objectives, goals and strategies for achieving them. The University Librarian should base his assessment on the users’ satisfaction to take corrective measures where necessary. The Librarian should aim at developing a user-friendly library. .

The Librarian is the head of the university library, therefore, to be successful as a team leader, he/she should practice participative management. He should also provide schedule of duty to all his staff members

Ike, (1997) further opined that the Librarian is the chief maintenance officer of the library system. He should ensure regular maintenance of all the library buildings, materials, equipment and furniture so that users can enjoy uninterrupted all-round services.


This department/division is considered by many as behind-the-scene division. This is because most, if not all of the activities in this section, are conducted out of sight of a library user. It is regarded as the engine room of the library services. This division comprises:

(a) The acquisition section

(b) The cataloguing and classification section (c) Serials section

(d) The bindery section

(a) The Acquisition Section

Selection of Library materials is done in this section. Also the checking of stock is done here before purchase so as to avoid duplication of stock. After the books have been acquired, they will be accessioned.

(b) Cataloguing/Classification Section

Once books are received from acquisition unit, they are catalogued and classified in this unit. To catalogue a book, simply means to describe that book. Such description is done by identifying who the author of the book is, the title of the book, publisher of the book, place of its publication, date, number of its pages, sometimes colour of the said book, size etc.

   After all these descriptions, the particular book is put in a class that befits its subject content treatment. This is called Classification. It means the assigning of a notation or a number that places the book in a unique class distinguishing it from a million of other books.

 This is done in accordance with a chosen Scheme of classification e.g Library of Congress (LC) or Universal Decimal Classification Scheme (UDC) among others. The arrangement or organization of library materials onto appropriate shelves and according to subject is done here. Putting library materials in an orderly manner is the duty of this unit. Wrongly classified library material is like a lost item.

(c) Card Catalogues Production and Maintenance unit

 This unit is under the cataloguing and classification section. It is the duty of the librarian-in-charge of this unit to proof-read the typed catalogue card before filing and also weeding the cards of the withdrawn materials.

 In a nutshell this unit is responsible for maintaining the catalogue cabinet. Thus, newly acquired and catalogued books should be filed immediately in the catalogue cabinet materials cards should be filed immediately, because it is the key to the Library materials generally.

(d) Serials Section

   The term Serials is interpreted broadly to include any title issued in parts which is incomplete in the Library collection. For example, periodicals, annuals, biennials and even incomplete work in part are considered as serials.

Serials are primary sources of new information. The various journals that are subscribed to by the library are selected, ordered, received and processed in this section.


It’s a whole department that has smaller units within its ambit while its main activity is conducted within the reach of readers. Because of the constant interaction between the staff and users, the division is often referred to as the image maker of the Library.

    In essence, the Readers’ Services Department in a Library has the circulation section as a unit where readers borrow and return books which activity in library parlance is called ‘charging and discharging’. This department has five units:

(a) Circulation section

(b) Reference Section

(c) Reserved book unit

(d) Special collection/archives section

(e) Textbook collection unit

(a) Circulation Section

It is in this section that books are loaned out to users and received on return to the Library. Inquiries as regards the whereabouts of materials not available on the shelf, where they are supposed to be located, are sorted out here. Supervision of proper book-shelving (called shelf-reading) is the duty of this section. Registration of users is done here too. Information about users and their particulars are stored here i.e. name, address, status, course etc.

(b) Reference Section

This section specializes in a direct personal assistance to users seeking information. In other words, direct interaction between the library personnel and the user takes place here.

   The aim is to assist the user to get the required information as quickly as possible. So the material content of this section is purely for reference purposes, that is, to provide quick answers to basic questions. Such materials are therefore not given out on loan.

(C) Reserved Book Unit

It is in this unit that books in short supply but in constant and extensive demand are kept for in-house use. This is to enable the library control the movement of such scarce and important materials against theft and mutilation without tracing the culprit. This also allows other users to get access to such important materials as at when needed.

(d) Special collection/archives

As the name of this unit implies, the material contents in this section are truly special. This is because the content of such materials carry messages that are addressed to a specified audience or class of readers. Also such materials are special because the information content emanates from a special body or organization either governmental or non-govemmental, local or foreign e.g. NAFDAC, EFCC, ICPC, AU, WHO, UN state/national houses of Assembly etc. students’ thesis, Doctoral dissertations, Project works are all available in this section.

   The material content in this unit are not quite different from research and bibliographic services section as it is called in some libraries. This unit equally plays the role of Archive as ephemeral materials like letters, notes and pamphlets not up to the size of a book are kept here for research purpose.


This section is found only in the University and Research libraries. This section keeps a number of important publications, i.e. Government publications, Federal, State, local government and other governmental agencies’ publications; International Organization publications such as, United Nations (UN), WHO, A.U, UNESCO, Maps and Manuscripts etc.

This section is also referred to as special collection section in some Libraries e.g. John Harris Library of the University of Benin. Thesis, Dissertations and students projects are equally housed in this section. This section is mainly used by postgraduate research students and Lecturers.


Materials in this department are non-print materials i.e. slides projectors, film projectors of different sizes, microfilms, microfiches, audio cassettes, CD-ROMs, video machines and television sets, etc. All of these are aimed at meeting the information needs of the user.

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