Why we name library as “Central Library”?


The current article describes the technical reason behind naming of the library and what would be the appropriate name for its identification among the Users. Author found practically lot of irregularity in assigning the name of libraries and no logic exist in assigning the name “Central Library”. Hence the article discovered the logic of naming the libraries.

  1. Introduction

All Institutes/Universities is having one Main library and there may be some small departmental libraries which may or may not be related to Main Library but authority assigned their main library name as Central Library usually. Hence author attempted to identify some technicality behind the naming of Libraries because the library must be named logically as it is heart of any institution and heart must me named appropriately with some reasons.  Author attempted to visit many website and observed the variations in naming of libraries although their nature and functioning is same with relation to other departmental libraries within the organization. The naming of libraries and how to provide its name does not a part of any library and information science books hence author broadcasted the same on the public forums and social networking website to draw some conclusion in this regard which is described in the below section.

  1. Why name is “Central Library”

One of the questions regarding naming of library came in author mind which was asked on the LIS forum and other social networking websites like Facebook etc. which was as follows:

“Perhaps i am asking very silly question but this question came in my mind so i would like to know some explanations on below:

  • Why we name any Institute/University main Library as central Library? and what is the meaning of Central Library?
  • If the name of Central library has been given name in honor of any person than why “Central” world is included like Mahatma Gandhi Central Library, Biju Patnaik Central Library etc. my view is why it is not only Mahatma Gandhi Library or Biju Patnaik Library?

Please explain to me the differences between above? “

  1. Feedback from the Users on Forum and Social Network

In response to question asked on LIS Forum and other social networking website author received the good number of feedback which is tabulated below:

Comment Respondent
As per my knowledge because we too have other branch libraries, So called Central library.


For Example our’s is Rak Medical & Health Sciences University, We have Central library in University campus along with 3 Hospital libraries.

Mr. Mohammed Pasha.


Source : LIS Forum

Mr. Vinod has raised a very pertinent question.  In my opinion the name came when there were departmental/branch libraries as well as main library in an institution.  Now, even if there is no departmental/branch libraries, the main library is called central library.  This is just convention and we are so conservative about the old names.  That is why we are called librarians even in the digital world of libraries.


Dr.Dineshan Koovakkai MA; MLISc; PGDEC; PGDCA; DCHN; NET; PhD.

(Founder Librarian i/c, Central University of Kerala, Kasaragod)


Source : LIS Forum

The word ‘central’ indicates that it is the main library and there could be some branch libraries in the same city/ campus or they intend to open some branch libraries in future.

In some of the universities, in addition to a central library, there will be branch libraries in each and every dept or branch libraries for specific subject disciplines in its campus.

Some time the central library will be named after a eminent personality / scientist / politicians, etc. and the  meaning remains same.

Chief Librarian
Indira Gandhi Inst of Development ResearchSource : LIS Forum
There are departmental Library also exists in Institutes/University and that library is only accessible to particulat dept. Here Central Library is accessible to all. Hence it is Central Library Mr. Bijayananda Pradhan

Central University of Orissa


Source : LIS Forum

In Universities it is mostly found that they do have departmental libraries with lesser collection.  But many universities do have a main library where they try to have collection development exhaustively to serve all users even users from various departmental libraries.  Some main library is given the authority to have collection development of itself as well as all departmental libraries of that university.  Most of the decisions for all university libraries are taken by main library. Departmental librarians are also reporting to librarian of main library.  As most of the library development or related work is taken care by the main library that’s why it is called Central Library. Mr. Pradip Das
Maeers’ MIT Institute of DesignSource : LIS Forum



It is just to identify the main library among the various departmental libraries in the institutes/universities. The term “Central” become a tradition to put before the “Library” where there is no other departmental libraries. No body is seriously thinking before giving the name of library but simultaneously they are using gap device for future if they have departmental libraries. Mr. Akhandanand Shukla, Assistant Professor


Source : Facebook

According to first law of library science library s should be on central position of institutions so its show position. Mr. Brijesh kumar CHaurasia

Source : mishravk.com

I believe that Mr. Vinod Mishra has arisen a right question. If we call the main library of an university as XXX University Central Library, then there is no need to give that particular library a separate name.

However, a separate name is sometimes chosen to add some specific importance to a library or honour some body. When such a name is chosen, then there is no need to call a library as XXX University Central Library.

It is possible that people add ‘University Name + Library name + Central + Library’ to show all the aspects of name of library and all the people should know the library by any angle.

Prabhat Ranjan



  1. Conclusion/Suggestions

On the basis of above statements I could able to draw following conclusions and recommendations for naming the Library.

  1. The term “Central” should be only used if there is another branch/departmental libraries etc. exist and there is some relation between them like centralized cataloguing, acquisition etc. hence the name Central Library seems to be technically correct else there is no need of naming main Library as Central Library and it could be named as Main Library, Institute Library, University Library etc.
  2. If we name library in the name of some reputed persons etc. like Mahatma Gandhi, Biju Patnaik etc. than no need of adding term “Central” particularly if there is no relation with other branch/departmental library as it could be very well identified among users by its name only like P.K. Kelkar Library of IIT Kanpur etc. But the name “Central Library” assigned by many libraries seems to be not appropriate if there is no relationship exists with any other libraries.

Examples: Mahatma Gandhi Central Library of IIT Roorkee seems to be correct as they have centralized Acquisition of books for departmental libraries also similarly P.K. Kelkar Library of IIT Kanpur seems to be correct as this is main library but there is no relation with other departmental libraries hence they have not added the term Central in naming of the Library.

Hence the term Central should be used appropriately before the library name if some relation exists with existing libraries only else the term Central will be irrelevant technically.


  1. LIS Forum @ http://ncsi.iisc.ernet.in/mailman/listinfo/lis-forum: a mailing list for mainly Library and information science professionals, email: lis-forum@ncsi.iisc.ernet.in
  2. https://www.facebook.com/
  3. http://pkklib.iitk.ac.in/
  4. http://mgcl.iitr.ac.in/
  5. http://mishravk.com/
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