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Book Review

Biblioteca Județeană „Octavian Goga” Cluj, Asociația Bibliotecarilor din Bibliotecile Publice din România, Filiala Cluj [“Octavian Goga” County Library Cluj, The National Association of Public Librarians and Libraries in Romania, Cluj Branch Library], Biblioteconomie pentru începători [Library Science for Beginners], 2018, Casa Cărții de Știință, Cluj-Napoca.


The handbook Library Science for Beginners is definitely a much-needed appearance in our editorial landscape. Coordinated by the Centre for Professional Development from „Octavian Goga“ County Library Cluj, the handbook contains chapters and subchapters written by librarians with experience, such as Diana Baciu, Aura Câmpan, Delia Chira, Ghizela Cosma, Tatiana Costiuc, Ana Maria Dudescu, Simona Floruțău, Octavia Hulpoi, Floarea Elena Moșoiu, Anca-Maria Pop, Monica Sărăcuț, Luminița Sima, Georgeta Topan, Liana Vescan, Adriana Zotea and last, but not least, by the manager Sorina Stanca. The volume was published with the help of the Cluj County Council.

In its entirety, the handbook offers thoughtfully selected definitions and an up-to-date review of library science related concepts and terms. Short study cases offer examples from the library’s history. After a brief introduction, the first chapter entitled Biblioteca publică și rolul ei în societate [The Public Library and Its Role in Society] dwells into the types of libraries that can be found on Romanian territory and illustrate the role of the library, namely that of a cultural, educational and social centre. Concise explanations for the functions and the attributions of the public library are given. The types of the Romanian public libraries are described. The Five Laws of Library Science created by S. R. Ranganathan are also mentioned.

The second chapter, entitled Organizarea și dezvoltarea colecţiilor de documente [The Organization and Collection Development], gives extended space to topics such as the library collection, namely the various types of documents that can be included, the collection development which presupposes the acquisition of documents or the records disposal, with its principles, protocols and development politics. The circuit, the evidence and the administration inventory are clearly outlined while images of the needed documents are added. Details about the methodology and the legislation are also given space. The operations of document processing, particularly descriptive cataloguing, classification, indexing, allotting the shelf mark and that of using the library equipment, are all presented step by step. The procedure of searching into the data base is showcased with photos from the system implemented by the library in 2012, namely Qulto, which makes the object of this subchapter. Moreover, we are given a glimpse into the ways of organizing collections, whether we talk about direct access or the stockroom. For direct access, the adequate space and the suitable furniture are main requirements. Explicit signalling for the reading space should also be attractive for the readers. The shelf indicators should contain labels for certain branches of knowledge, which is helpful for the patrons in choosing the wanted books. Another subchapter deals with the organising of the duplicate copies, as we can see in the picture with the ergonomic shelves. Information about the sorting and the reconditioning of documents is split into two: about the books that are given to the bindery or about those that return to the routing of documents or book circulation. Another section is dedicated to the appraisal of books and the call for their physical or moral downgrade. The final subchapter presents the special collections and what they should include and touches upon the 1992 IFLA and UNESCO programme called the Memory of the World Register which deals with preserving and safeguarding the documentary heritage. The types of documents that are included in the category of special collections are manuscripts, printed heritage, audio-visual heritage, informational heritage and archival documents. The criteria for selecting these documents are the following: the age of the document that gives its special value, while taking into consideration that this fact is decided by each country in particular; the bibliophilia, containing several elements regarding the exterior aspect of the book, and, finally, the local interest the book incites in order to restore the historical, economic and cultural life of the community. The documentary resources from the special collections can be scanned and archived in order to make them available for the public, they can be the object of printed and edited manuscripts or articles and studies published in volumes, while also informing the public about their existence by publishing catalogues and newsletters. They can also be employed in cultural and educational activities or be the subject of exhibitions and cultural partnerships. At the „Octavian Goga“ County Library from Cluj-Napoca, the section for Special Collections was established in 1967 and had as its main functions of public library the role of organising and collecting a stock of documents that should preserve the cultural memory of Cluj and made it readily available for the community. This preoccupation gave the name Special Collections, Memory and Local Knowledge. Some of the most important books with autographs and dedications or manuscript annotations were previously possessed by some outstanding personalities of the Romanian culture, such as Lucian Blaga, Ion Agârbiceanu, Emil Racoviță, Constantin Rădulescu-Motru or even from the Romanian national poet Mihai Eminescu (who signed M. Eminovitz).

The third chapter focuses on Utilizare și utilizatori [Use and Patrons] and deals with enrolment and emitting the library pass or the reading card. Pictures of how the contract should look like are also enclosed, followed by the types of library passes and the types of patrons the library forms, from enrolled to new and, ultimately, to actives ones. A quick case study of the online database named Qulto is offered, a sign that the patrons can fully access the catalogues on their computers. The typology of library services includes in the case of this county library some direct services, namely the ones given in the perimeter of the library, and some external ones, such as the Bibliosan subsidiary, which is a library for health created in 1999 in the Clinical Recovery Hospital from Cluj, that has as its patrons not only the patients, but also the medical and administrative personnel. Another external service is the Mobil Library launched in 2007 in cooperation with Cluj-Allier that serves the distant neighbourhoods of Cluj but also the communal libraries while also attending numerous cultural festivals.

Moving further, this chapter classifies these types of services after their evolution from traditional ones to modern ones. The traditional services include book loans in general and at home, consulting documents on library premises, short-term loan, book term extension, the return of borrowed documents, reservations and retention of documents, the retrieval of documents from offenders and the interlibrary loan. Other ways of taking advantage of the collections are to organise display cases, exhibitions, cultural events, reading clubs, offering information and creating references and bibliographies.

The modern services include the need for automation, namely equipping the library with computers, the electronic access of data bases, the option of loan for CDs, DVDs, CD-ROMs, or Blue-Ray discs, online reservations, toy-library services, services for teenagers, learning programs for adults, including alphabetisation, and reading programs for the whole family. For doing so, ergonomic rules must apply to spaces and furniture. The available electronic services include the online catalogue OPAC, the library’s web page, the electronical collection, the services for electronic references, the user instruction, using the mobile devices, social media services and internet access via the library.

The categorization of services after destination includes the children, the teenagers and the adults and the seniors. The handbook offers a categorization of these groups and the ways of attracting these types of readers to the library. A short example of the Toy library created at the Mănăștur Branch in 1996 is also given, reiterating the fact that games and toys are as important as books. This service was then expanded in 2002 at the Children’s Section from its Headquarters.

The next subsection presents the information a librarian needs to know regarding direct and indirect communication. Another section pays attention to what volunteering should mean for a public library, with details regarding the process of selection and until the final stage of recognising the volunteer’s merits. Some of the library’s programs include book collecting and opening mini-libraries in hospitals or senior centres but also in schools for pupils with special needs, reading aloud outside the library’s premises, loan for people at home, and organising public events. Lastly, the partnerships and local collaborations of a public library are clearly outlined as it is the case with the promotion of its own programs.

The fourth chapter is entitled Activitatea de informare și documentare în biblioteca publică [The Activity of Information and Documentation in the Public Library] and contains a summary of the following aspects: the reference collection, the information products developed by the library, the reference services, the instruction of the patrons and the profile of the personnel responsible with the activity of information and documentation in public libraries, namely the bibliographer or the reference librarian. Short sections are dedicated to information regarding the county library at hand: the existence of the Reference Room, the activity of the Bibliographic Compartment, which realised the bibliographies of important personalities from Cluj, namely Ion Brad, Ioana Em. Petrescu, Liviu Petrescu, Emil Isac and Octavian Goga, the existence of a periodic newsletter for the public, a special web page entitled Memory and Local Knowledge, the service of accessible references or intermediary ones, or complex ones, solved by the librarians from the Bibliographic Compartment, the service of references through email called Ask the Librarian, and other projects such the Instant Messaging or the Europeana Projects.

The fifth chapter, with the title Statistica de bibliotecă și măsurarea performanței [Library Statistics and Performance Measurement], mentions, amongst its definitions and brief history of the subject, the indices of reading attraction, available facility, reading, circulation and frequency.

The final chapter, Facilitățile oferite de tehnologia RFID în bibliotecă [The Facilities Offered by the RFID Technology in the Library], highlights the efforts made by “Octavian Goga” County Library Cluj to always keep the pace with the newest technological advents and to streamline the activity of the library by reducing the times needed for certain librarian-patron interactions. This technology was first introduced in the library through the European project LIBER-IMMS in 2005-6 and updated in 2012, when the Qulto library system made use of the RFID technology, something continued in February of 2016, when the first types of RFID library passes were introduced.

Finally, some appendices were introduced, such as The IFLA/UNESCO Manifest of the Public Library from 1994; The IFLA Manifest for the Internet; The IFLA Manifest for Library Statistics; The Register for Collection Movement; The Registration Card; The Loan Card; The Lending-Form; The Rules and Regulations for the Public of „Octavian Goga“ County Library Cluj; Documents for Volunteering Activities; Evidence Notebook for Library Activity; Annual Statistics Report; Statistics Report for Library Use and Cult. 1 Statistics Report. The handbook also contains selected bibliography.

All in all, the volume Biblioteconomie pentru începători [Library Science for Beginners] is an introduction for future librarians as it offers the portrait of a county library and the blueprint of how a Romanian public library should function.


About the Author

Paul-Daniel Golban

Doctoral School of Linguistic and Literary Studies, Faculty of Letters,

Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca







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