Library Services to People with Special Needs Section - Glossary of Terms and Definitions

by Nancy Mary Panella

Series: IFLA Professional Reports 117

The need for this glossary first became strikingly evident during the development of the section's Guidelines for libraries serving hospital patients and the elderly and disabled in long-term care facilities.1 Within those guidelines, just the single descriptor, ‘hospital libraries,' was found to have dramatically different meanings in different parts of the world - in much of Western Europe, for example, ‘hospital libraries' almost always meant a library for patients, while in North America, it most often meant a library for health sciences staff. Those different meanings made communication and research in the field, especially research done through the literature, exceedingly difficult. They also had the potential to compromise findings.

The need again became clear during the many discussions the standing committee of the now Library Services to People with Special Needs Section (LSN) had prior to proposing a change from its previous name, Libraries Serving Disadvantaged Persons (LSDP). For example, while the designation ‘disadvantaged' seemed to have had a negative connotation in some countries, in others it was either positive or neutral. During those discussions, it also became clear that terms used within some of the special groups for whom the section advocates - for example, within the field of developmental disabilities, the terms handicap or mental retardation - could also be seen as negative, positive or neutral, depending upon the country or even upon personal perceptions within that country.

This, in large part then, is the genesis of the glossary. Hopefully, it provides a guide to usage, both for those working, writing and doing research within LSN as well as those without.

Library Services to People with Special Needs Section - Glossary of Terms and Definitions
Compiled by Nancy Mary Panella The Hague, IFLA Headquarters, 2009. - 34p. 30 cm.
(IFLA Professional Reports : 117)
ISBN 978-90-77897-39-3
ISSN 0168-1931

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Publications, Library Services to People with Special Needs

Last update: 28 October 2016