Special libraries are collections that exist to meet the specific needs of their customers. The libraries are different from their needs. However, the libraries have common elements in the service they provide, their focused collections and their knowledgeable staff, who are able to adapt to the changing needs of their customer base. The term “Special Libraries” is an error number because all libraries are special and share their functions. This statement does not dispute the fact that some libraries have particular concerns – whether their clientele, their collections or their purpose. A standard definition of a special library would be the one that exists to meet the limited needs of a particular entity – a business, industry, government agency, non-profit group or professional organization. Also included are subject-oriented entities in a public or academic library (Beenham and Harrison, 1990).
The collection of special libraries is smaller and tends to be more focused compared to public and academic libraries. Special libraries have the tools and people needed to make information available to the client because it is not just enough to collect and house information. It must be made accessible to users. In short, a special library is specialized information services that correlate, interpret, and use the available materials for constant use and benefit to the organization it serves (Chirgwin and Oldfield, 1982).
The requirement to transfer from the special library is to provide up-to-date information that will allow researchers and other employers to perform their duties effectively. Therefore, it provides not only a collection of materials for which there is known demand, but also a network of services that makes information easily accessible to a variety of external sources.
Previously, the supply of books and other material for research purposes had been considered extremely important. With the dramatic increase in the number of post-war students in Sierra Leone, it became more widely accepted that a university library should aim to meet the needs of their most important categories of readers; namely the student researcher and the academic staff.
Definition of charging or issuing system
According to Berkett and Ritiche (1977), taking up material loans is called charging or issuing. The charging method chosen by a particular library largely depends on the library’s clientele, the size of the storage and the need to limit the number of items that a library member may have on loan, and whether the library has loan periods and returns. of materials. Choice of methods will also be influenced by the amount and type of information that library staff require the issue to be delivered.
The purpose of a circulation system is to give library users as much access as possible to the stock. Unfortunately, a book lent to a reader is unavailable to others and some restrictions must be made. Eg. An encyclopedia is a summary of knowledge on a large number of topics and is designed for easy reference rather than for continuous reading. Authorizing such a book on loan would be to the detriment of a large number of library users without benefiting the borrower.
Each library will use a system for recording books and other items it lends to its readers. There have been many modern developments in problem detection over the last thirty years, mainly due to high staff costs, increased usage and in search of better all-round efficiency. There are no all-purpose systems that can meet the demands of all kinds of libraries, though the latest computer charging system can handle many aspects quickly.
A good system should allow library staff to find out which reader has borrowed which book. It should show when books should be returned and which ones are due. Some systems can check the number of books issued, and especially the number that each reader has borrowed. The better systems allow the book to be renewed without returning the book in person, and should allow readers to book books that are not immediately available.
Charging or issuing system in libraries
The Circulation Department is the area most patrons are accustomed to because it is here that library materials are loaned and returned after use, and it is sometimes referred to as the leading or taking home department. Patent records are kept here when they have completed a required form providing personal information about them, that is, name, address, gender, status and guarantor. Some departments have different cards that different categories of users can fill out. However, the following functions are performed by the circulation department:
• Registering new users and keeping archives of library patrons;
• Registration of borrowed materials and returned;
• Listing when borrowed materials must be left in the library;
• Storing department statistics;
• Sending overdue messages to borrowers who do not return their books when they are due (Nwogu, 1991).
Types of charging or issuing systems used in libraries
As mentioned, one of the most important services offered by libraries is the lending of books and other materials. It is clear that libraries need to keep a record of such loan transactions, and many methods have been developed to regulate this task. These methods are known as charging or issuing methods. The charging method chosen by a particular library largely depends on the library’s clientele, the size of the stock and the need to limit the number of items a library member may have on loan, and whether the library has peak loan periods and returns. of material. Here are some examples of charging methods used in different library types.
Browne system: For many, many years, the most commonly used charging method is the Browne system. With this system, a membership application form is completed and the reader is given a number of tickets with his or her name and address. The reader presents the books to be borrowed at the publishing desk, along with a reader’s ticket for each book. The date label in each book is stamped with the date of return; the book card is removed from each book and inserted into the reader’s tickets (one book card per ticket). The charge is therefore a book card that is inserted into a ticket. When the book is returned, the assistant will look inside it to ascertain from the date the label or pocket, accession number / author / class number, and due date. The appropriate charge is then removed from the issue, the book card replaced in the book pocket and the ticket returned to the reader.
Islington system: In this charging system, each reader is given a plastic ticket on which his or her name and address are printed. Stationery inside the library books is the same as the Browne system. However, the difference lies in the fact that the reader has to print an address sheet (using an embossed ticket) for each book he or she wants to borrow. Therefore, the ‘fee’ is a book card plus a paper note inside an empty ticket.
Ticket Book or Check Book Charging: In this method, each book has a book pocket that is firmly stuck inside the cover, giving the details of the book. Inside this book pocket is a regular pocket, inside there is a book card that carries details of the book. The reader need only insert one of his or her ticket slip into the regular pocket and present the book for date stamping. The assistant removes the ‘fee’ and then submits it. The delivery trays are usually stored in a separate ‘discharge room’ and not at the issue table. There is a reception where the books are returned, where the actual discharge happens later in the ‘discharge room’, when the charge is removed from the edition, the reader’s ticket is destroyed and the ordinary pocket and book card are returned to the book. An additional ‘checkbook’ is issued to the reader when the previous one is used up.
Charging the token: The bookmark label is stamped in the usual way and the reader must hand over a token for each book that is issued. When the books are returned, the reader simply receives the appropriate number of tokens in exchange. By the end of each year, the reader should be able to produce the full complement of tokens or pay a replacement cost for anyone lost. A visible index (that is, a list of reserved books to be checked each time books are returned) is used for reservations.
Charging a punched card: When a book is borrowed, the assistant takes two punched cards, pre-dated with the date to be returned (both punched and dated stamped), places the two punched cards in an automatically punched machine and presses both cards on the reader’s number and book accession number and class number. A card is kept as the library’s record of loans; the second card is inserted into the book pocket with return date clearly visible. The punched cards are removed from returned books, sorted in order by accession number by machine, and then matched by machine with the duplicate cards stored as the library’s loan list. Unmatched cards represent books that are still on loan, and these can be refilled mechanically, this time in date to reveal past due.
Computerized issuance system: Computer systems that now exist in libraries are actually very advanced. The output terminal is equipped with a data pin to which a self-stamped date stamp can be attached. There is a card holder into which the reader’s ticket is inserted. Charging is done by running the pen horizontally across the barcode on the reader’s ticket and across the barcode labels on the books to be borrowed. The date labels in the book are stamped with the date of return and the ticket is returned to the reader. The discharge terminal is also equipped with another data pen, and this is used to read the books bar code labels when they are returned. The reader’s ticket is not required at this time, as the reader’s name is automatically deleted from the computer’s records when all books are returned (Beenham, and Harrison 1990).
Charging or Issuing System at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Library
The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) was founded on April 12, 1988 by the Government of Sierra Leone in collaboration with the Nigerian Government and the World Health Organization (WHO). With the adoption and entry into force of the University Law of 2005, which led to the establishment of two universities in Sierra Leone, the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences as a composite arm of the University of Sierra Leone, in collaboration with the National School of Nursing, which now a faculty and the Pharmacy Technician School, is also part of the Faculty of Pharmacy.
The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library started a few months after the college was established in 1988. The library was first located on Bass Street in Brookfields and later transferred to New England in Freetown, from where it was finally transferred to Connaught Hospital when the Department of Health abandoned the building it used to occupy as a library.
The Library of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences was started by a medical librarian named Nancy M’Jamtu-Sie in 1988. The library has the largest stock of medical and health science materials at the University of Sierra Leone. The library relies solely on donations, and it operates in three locations: the main medical library at Connaught Hospital, which houses the library’s administrative office, card loan, reference, World Health Organization audio cassette collection; the CD-ROM and Internet facilities, the interdisciplinary library at the National School of Nursing, houses the general collection as well as card loan and reference books and the Medical Sciences Library on the Kossoh Town Campus.
The mission of the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences is: “to educate community-oriented physicians, pharmacists, nurses, laboratory researchers and health professionals with sound professional and managerial skills who are suitably qualified to meet international standards and are capable of conducting research and pursuing training in specialized areas for the delivery of healthcare. “
The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences practice the aforementioned Browne Issue system, which is practiced in most libraries, especially special libraries found at the University of Sierra Leone. With the Browne charging or issuing system at the College of Medicine and the Allied Health Sciences Library, each library book has a book card stored in a pocket inside each book. The card identifies each book by admission, usually accession number, rating number, author and short title. Each reader has a ticket issued to him / her indicating the name and address. This reader’s ticket has the book card taken from the pocket of the book and this is the summary of the edition. Each book is stamped with the date of return and the issue is filed in trays under the date to be returned and by which date likely by the accession number.
When readers return the book, the due date for the stamp on the date marking must find the correct date among the issue tray and the accession number printed on the date marking must find the correct location by that date. The book card is then returned to the book, which is now ready for shelves, and the reader restores his tickets. Overdue books are obvious as the bins are in date order and reservations are made to seek appropriate care in an obvious way. The brown system is simply operated and easily understood by library staff and readers.
Clientele or users of the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Library
A clientele in the library is a body of customers or patrons who use a library to get the necessary information. The library’s clientele is very knowledgeable group. Consequently, the library’s emphasis is on maintaining a significant depth of subject matter or providing information that must be in print. All members of the University of Sierra Leone, who are authorized to use the College of Medicine and the Allied Health Science Library, must register at the library and obtain a membership card. External readers are allowed to use the library for reference purposes, but they are not given loan facilities.
At the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library, most books are available to users during the loan period, and the number of books lent varies. The book material covers basic medical sciences, biology, physiology, biochemistry and all medical disciplines. Books are loaned to both students and staff for a specified period.
Challenges of Charge or Issue System Used at College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Library
Special libraries in Sierra Leone, especially the College of Medicine and the Allied Health Sciences Library are not without challenges.
Space Challenge: The three locations where the College of Medicine and the Allied Health Sciences Library operate have been observed to be very small with reference to the building. The location of these places especially with those at the National School of Nursing, which houses the general collection as well as card loans and reference books; and the Library of Medical Sciences on the Kossoh Town campus are not seen as favorable in terms of their location. They do not offer easy access for all staff and clients. Shelves and storage have not been conveniently located.
Financial status: The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Library has been very unsatisfactory, especially when management cannot fulfill its obligation to take care of the library’s itinerary. This has resulted in the library not having updated collections. This is seen in the area of wages that have been very poor, operating costs, subscriptions, acquisitions, education and professional development.
Inadequate Materials: Materials at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences are inadequate to meet the needs of users. Materials are mainly acquired through donations, as the library does not have sufficient funds to purchase materials to meet users’ needs.
Inadequate computers and limited Internet service: There are no adequate computers and strong Internet connection sufficient to service the many clientele. At the College of Medicine and the Allied Health Sciences library, the insufficient number of available computers does not allow the library to operate the Computer Charge or Issue system, which is more advanced and easier to operate than the Browne charging system currently used by the library. The Internet service provided is also not sufficient to handle the high number of students, staff and other users.
Lack of sufficiently trained and qualified staff: The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences libraries lack sufficiently trained and qualified librarian who has rendered the library ineffective in properly disseminating information to users. The library consists of only two qualified librarians, and additional staff consists of a technician, clerks, cleaning assistants and messengers.
In conclusion, as a special library at the University of Sierra Leone, the College of Medicine and the Allied Health Sciences Library have been able to meet the information needs of the many users with the Browne Issue system on which it operates. However, the collection is not updated and the service is not excellent enough to satisfy the clientele to which it fits. The College Library lacks enough funds to buy updated material. Library services have not been too satisfactory, and this is due to only a few trained staff and limited facilities. Despite these challenges at the College of Medicine and the Allied Health Sciences Library, the Browne charging or problem system has proven to be the therapy that has saved the issue of providing services to their clients and the proper preservation of their materials.