Setting Up a Library: A Resource Guide
ALA Library Fact Sheet 16
“How do I set up a library?” is a question the American Library Association receives from people in a wide range of situations. In some cases, the need is to organize a large personal or office collection; in others it is to set up a library where there is, at the beginning, only the desire to have library service where there is none, such as in a village where a Peace Corps volunteer is working.
This fact sheet will provide an overview of resources common to all types of libraries, along with some references for some specific situations. As libraries do tend to grow, it is best to utilize sound library management practices from the outset insofar as possible.
Establishing a new library, or developing an existing collection of books and other materials into a library, involves several functions: creating the oversight or governance structure, defining the mission and purpose of the organization, securing funding, planning, developing a collection, securing or building an appropriate space, equipping the space, and marketing services. In all cases, planning for the collection should come first:
“A library collection should fit the mission for which it is created. The number of books it holds does not determine its worth. A well-selected library of 25 books could very well be an excellent library for its purpose.”
— Erma Jean Loveland
In addition to this general “how to set up a library” fact sheet, the ALA has these more focused bibliographies:
ALA Library Fact Sheet 16a – Setting Up an International Library
Bibliography of periodical, book and website resources for setting up a library outside of the United States and Canada.
ALA Library Fact Sheet 16b – Setting Up a School Library
Bibliography of periodical, book and website resources for setting up a school library.
ALA Library Fact Sheet 16c – Setting Up a Special Library
Bibliography of periodical, book and website resources for setting up a Special Library. Specific resources are targeted to small libraries, medical/health sciences libraries, office/corporate libraries, and one-person libraries (OPLs).