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Advances in Librarianship








Few issues in academic librarianship inspire as much controversy as the branch or departmental library. At the center of this controversy is the question of whether or not collections should be centralized in the main university library or located in part in separate branch libraries. Although vigorously debated since the beginning of this century, the centralization-decentralization dilemma became even more of an issue following World War II, when college and university enrollments and academic libraries began to grow at unprecedented rates and the pressure for adequate library services and collections increased. This particular issue has never been resolved completely, nor is it limited to the United States.

Although librarians have written extensively on the pros and cons of both centralized and decentralized library systems, they have not ignored other issues related to academic branch libraries. Services, collections, staffing, faculty involvement, and other concerns have all been considered in the literature, though not with the frequency nor the intensity of the centralization debate. This article is an attempt to synthesize and summarize the literature, primarily since 1945, of academic branch libraries in the United States, providing an introduction to major issues and philosophies. Occasional references to earlier articles, as well as to selected foreign literature, will also be made.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.