Throughout the development of civilization, right up to the modern era, libraries and books have played an integral part in people's cultural, political, and social development. Libraries earlier tended to serve an archival function. The role of the library and librarian was to store and provide access to materials, mostly books. The common view of libraries earlier was that they were storehouses of knowledge of civilization. However, a modern library, although still serving the archival function, also has an active, and assertive role in providing information to users.
We live in a world in which increasing specialization is essential. Library could be a principal operator in promoting the intercommunication among the specialists. In this democratic age, all the people need a steady and balanced supply of reading material for their advancement of knowledge. University library has to satisfy the needs of the graduates, post-graduates as well as the requirements of the research scholars, and the much more complex and exacting demands of mature scholars and teachers.
1.1. Higher Education and University Library
University library is an integral part of an institution of higher education. Thomas Carlyle has rightly stated that: " True university of these days is collection of books." (1) A university is an institution where teaching and research are conducted in more than one discipline of universe of knowledge, and which has authority to award degrees, diploma and certificates in their respective subjects. Students, research scholars and teachers are using university library for their advancement of knowledge in their subject of interest.
It is true that in the academic sense no higher education and research work can be developed without a strong library functioning as its heart. The place of library in the university is purely academic. The rich collection of books and periodicals attracts faculty members and an enlightened faculty in turn makes others enlightened. Thus, the reputation of a university always depends on the reputation of its library.
1.2 Higher Education in Iran
Educational system in Iran comprises three levels: elementary, intermediate and higher education, and the government is responsible for all levels of education. The Ministry of Education looks after elementary and intermediate education and other two Ministers; i.e. Science, Researches and Technology (MSRT) and Health, Treatment and Medical Education (HTME) are responsible for general and medical higher education, respectively.
At the present there are 48 universities under MSRT and 31 under HTME. In addition, some other ministries such as the Ministry of Petroleum and a few also have their own universities. The number of these universities is seven then there is three private Universities (Azad-e Islam, Imam Sadegh and University of Science and Technology of Mazandaran.) (2) The oldest university is the University of Tehran which was established in 1934.Universities, now are governed by the respective board of trustees. Still they rely on the funds allocated by the government and so, of course do their libraries.
1.3 Higher Education Library System
It is estimated that there are more than 1000 libraries in the higher education of Iran. According to the "Statistics of Higher Education of Iran" (3) there are more than 89 major universities, 700 colleges, Institute of Higher Education, centers for Higher learning with more than 1400,000 students, 30,000 teaching staff, covering 2,200,000 Sq.m of country's area with an amount of Rials 1,254,019,548,000 as annual budgets. Thus more than 1000 libraries consists the Higher Education Library System of Iran.
1.4 Significance of present study in Iran:
The institution of higher education in Iran has the governmental and private origins as mentioned earlier. The governmental higher education institutions of Iran have divided between two ministries.
The MSRT is responsible for selecting the students for both groups of institutions of both ministries through an entrance competition every year. More than 150,000 students are chosen from about 1450000 candidates for almost all branches of human knowledge that are taught in Iranian Universities. Certainly the libraries of above mentioned institutions for meeting the need of such a vast scientific population, must have large collections, professional manpower, modern equipment and adequate, suitable and comfortable space for serving them. And for high quality of services, these libraries need to have a powerful...