We are in the information age. The significance of the role played by information in all kinds of activities, especially socioeconomic development in changing and developing societies, is accepted as a common part of life. In developing countries, the importance of information is obvious and outstanding. The technology, equipment, quality, economy, and society of developing countries are far inferior to those of developed countries. Developing countries must refer to the successful experiences of developed countries and incorporate and use the latest achievements in science and technology. To do all these things, developing countries need information and information services.
Information services is the raison d'etre of the special library, as the objective of the special library is to provide information in support of the objectives of its parent organization. It must provide information more efficiently and economically than could be obtained by alternative methods. In developing countries, the special library occupies a dominant position over other libraries, such as public and college libraries, in serving for the development of native economy and society. The service of special libraries toward this goal is largely an obligation in developing countries.
Special Libraries in China
The concept of "special libraries" in China has not been realized. Chinese scholars of library science divide libraries into seven types: academic, national, public, research, school, army, and labor union. In China, the definition and characteristics of research libraries are analogous to the special libraries defined by outside scholars. When a Chinese scholar says research libraries, he or she implies "special libraries." So in China the "Document and Information Center" or "Scientific and Technical Information Institution" library is a "special library."
The special libraries (research libraries) are an important component of the Chinese library system and, with public and academic libraries, are among the three pillars of Chinese libraries. All Chinese special libraries are maintained by government agencies and institutions and are under the jurisdiction of those agencies and institutions. There are two types of special libraries in China--libraries of the Academy of Sciences (natural sciences and social sciences), and their numerous research institutions which have their own libraries; and special libraries in the branches of various ministries or commissions, such as the ministries of geology, medicine, agriculture, and the steel industry.
The Structure and System of Special Libraries in China
The libraries of the Academy of Sciences include the Document and Information Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (DICCAS), and the Document and Information Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (DICCASS).
DICCAS has many branches throughout China. Its principal collections are mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, geography, biology, interdisciplinary science, and high technology. DICCASS holds principal collections in the social sciences. It also has many branches throughout China.
The special libraries in China's ministries and commissions are divided into three classes: first, second, and third.
The first class (or national class) includes four special libraries: the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (ISTIC), maintained by the State Science and Technology Commission (SSTC); the Information Center of Science and Technology for National Defense (ICSTND), maintained by the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense; the Document Center of the Patent Office of China (DCPOC), maintained by the Patent Office of China; and the Standards Information Center of China (SICC), maintained by the State Bureau of Technology Supervision.
ISTIC's principal collections are engineering and technology, management science and high technology. …