A research library is a library which contains an in-depth collection of material on one or several subjects (Young, 1983; p.188). A research library will generally include primary sources as well as secondary sources. Large university libraries are considered research libraries, and often contain many specialized branch research libraries.
Research libraries can be either reference libraries, which do not lend their holdings, or lending libraries, which do lend all or some of their holdings. Some extremely large or traditional research libraries are entirely reference in this sense, lending none of their material; most academic research libraries, at least in the U.S., now lend books, but not periodicals or other material.
Upper-level shelving inside the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, viewed from the reading room
The Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library, Vatican City
Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC
Shelving at the National Library of Malta
- Saunders, Wilfred Leonard (1968). University and Research Library Studies: Some Contributions from the University of Sheffield Postgraduate School of Librarianship and Information Science. Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press. ISBN 9780080127262. OCLC 441960.
- Young, Heartsill (1983). ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science. Chicago, IL: American Library Association. ISBN 0838903711. OCLC 8907224.
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