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Trans-Librarianship: What Type of Library Do I Work In?

by on November 21, 2012

The answer to the question is “I work at the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) Reference Library.”  The question is raised because it is a confusing library to designate according to MLIS definitions.  We are taught in the first and most basic LIS class in first year of the program, that there are three types of libraries. The first is public-a traditional public library, open to all in the community.  The second is private-usually owned by a company and mostly only used by the employees, traditionally not open to the public. The third type of library is an academic library-a school library, used by the educators and students of the institution.  The  Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) Reference Library is owned by the Toledo Museum of Art (therefore-private), open to the public (therefore-public), and housed in the University of Toledo Center for Visual Arts, where most of our foot traffic comes from the university’s faculty and students (therefore-academic).

History Behind the Library
The building is attached to the museum and is therefore easily accessible by museum staff and patrons.  It was designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, and is often referred to by Toledoans, as the Gehry building. Originally, the library was in the main museum building, however when the Center for Visual Arts was constructed in 1992, it was decided that the library would be moved and would accrue some monies from the university in exchange for student access to the materials, without having to pay a membership fee. The general public can circulate most of the collection by paying a membership fee to either the museum or the Library League.

Where Do I Stand?
I suppose if I were forced to make a distinction, I would have to say that we are technically a private institution; solely based on ownership, though. While we are open to the public also, we rarely get a substantial amount of the public using our services, unless they are somehow (like docents or Library League members) connected to the museum. As stated above, a large portion of our foot traffic is from students and faculty of the university. On any given day, there is an average of a three to one ratio of students to museum staff using the library, and an even greater ratio of student/public. While we do sometimes send materials out to museum staff members’ offices (therefore explaining a lower population count of museum staff actually in the library), mostly we are used as a resource for the art and art history students.

 So, I guess my library is a combination of all three; academic, public, and private.  Acapublivate???


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