What are Special Libraries in Saskatchewan?
Special libraries are libraries that house collections of a specific nature or for a specific agency or institution. There are special libraries for government departments, private business, art galleries, museums, and legal firms, to name only a few.
The role and mandate of special libraries is to provide specialized information services for staff and members of a parent agency.
There are over seventy special libraries in Saskatchewan, including government, corporate and subject-specific libraries. While special libraries tend to be concentrated in the cities of Saskatoon and Regina, they are also found in smaller communities, such as Humboldt, North Battleford and Swift Current.
Librarian Roles in Special Libraries
Special librarians work in specialized institutions such as corporations, government departments, or non-profit organizations. Their job is to manage and deliver information services to people who comprise the library's special client group. Librarians who work in special libraries often have a keen interest in the specialized area of their library.
Special librarians have the opportunity to play a variety of interesting roles. They usually provide proactive information or current awareness services by profiling their clients' information needs and sending them this information on a weekly or monthly basis.
Special librarians may also collaborate with organizational work teams by providing background information and research, such as competitive intelligence.
In small special libraries the librarian may perform all of the functions of the library such as cataloguing, collection development, reference, as well as management.
Librarians who work in special libraries have roles closely linked to their special collections and client group. A librarian who works in the Legislative Library, for example, will serve elected officials in a non-biased way to find and retrieve information of value to them. Librarians in health district libraries serve members of that health district to find and retrieve information related to specific medical concerns.
In Saskatchewan special libraries, the type of job opportunities for professional librarians usually depends on the size of the library. Larger special libraries in the province may offer librarian positions in a variety of roles including those of managers, cataloguers, collections managers and reference. Small special libraries may only have funds to staff one or two employees. Professional librarians working in “one-person” special libraries are not uncommon.
Library Technician Roles in Special Libraries
Special libraries in corporate, government and non-profit organizations often hire library technicians. In these contexts library technicians usually work under the direction of a librarian to serve the information needs of members of their special client group.
In Saskatchewan, the role library technicians play in special libraries usually depends on the size and orientation of the library. A small special library that does not employ a professional librarian may hire a library technician to manage the library and carry out the day to day library operations. Such "one-person" libraries staffed by technicians are not uncommon.
Special libraries that employ a librarian as manager may also hire one or more library technicians to provide operational support in the areas of acquisitions, cataloguing, interlibrary loans or reference. Large special libraries may offer several such positions for library technicians.
Other Jobs in Special Libraries
Some special libraries have job positions called "library assistants". These positions are filled by employees who hold one or two university degrees but have no formal librarianship education. It is often important to have library work experience to become a library assistant. Assistants help with ordering and organizing library materials. They can perform circulation duties. Assistants may work on the reference desk, helping people to find information or appropriate reading materials. They can also supervise or train other staff. In Saskatchewan special libraries, library assistant roles are most common in large urban special libraries.
Some special libraries hire pages or clerks. A library page is most often responsible for shelving material, they may do some circulation work as well. They can do minor book repair. Clerks unload, sort and retrieve library materials. In Saskatchewan, the number and type of clerk roles in special libraries depends on the size of the library. Larger special libraries tend to offer more clerk positions. Usually Grade 12 is the required education for such positions.
Special Library Associations
Special Library Association http://www.sla.org/
Special Library Association Western Canada Chapter http://wcanada.sla.org/
Saskatchewan Health Libraries Association (SHLA) http://www.chla-absc.ca/shla/
Canadian Association of Research Libraries http://www.carl-abrc.ca/