Centers ’ lists over 16,000 libraries and centers, an increase in their numbers of over 700 from the sixth edition and 7000 over the inventory conducted by Kruzas in 1963.2“Growth, ” as Christianson has observed, “has been one of the outstanding characteristics of the special library movement throughout its 70 year history. New special libraries continue to come into existence with a vigor undiminished by another, less pleasant characteristic of special libraries, their mortality rate.”3 The numbers of libraries will vary from inventory to inventory depending upon the compiler’s definition of a “special library, ” for while there have been many attempts through the years todefine it, there isas yet no clear or universally accepted definition for the special library. Special libraries can vary so widely in their organizational structure, purpose, function, level of support and size that it is difficult to generalize about them. Special libraries may include those with collections devoted to materials on a single subject or related group of subjects (art libraries, business libraries, law and medical libraries); others may be described by the form of material collected (map librariesand picture libraries). Many can be described in terms of their parent organizations (museum libraries and government libraries). Furthermore, special libraries may be either publicly or privately supported
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