Libraries collect and preserve the graphic records of human experience.1 Not every experience is documented, and not every documented experience is collected and preserved. At the University of Illinois Library you have access to over 14 million printed books, 9 million microforms, 120,000 periodicals, 148,000 sound recordings, 1 million audiovisual resources, 280,000 e-books, 29,000 cubic feet of archival records, 3 terabytes of electronic records, and 650,000 maps—that’s over 24 million records available for your research.
Librarians often refer to these records as documents (see next page!).
Research libraries differ from other types of libraries in that they attempt to collect documents as comprehensively as possible, within certain parameters. Of course, given the enormous number of documents produced (both published and unpublished), even the largest research libraries, like University of Illinois, can collect only a tiny fraction of those documents...
1. Jesse H. Shera, The Foundations of Education for Librarianship (New York: Becker and Hayes, 1972), 193.