The Digital Age and Local Studies

Deborah Cronau (Trinity Theological College Library, Australia)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 June 2004




Cronau, D. (2004), "The Digital Age and Local Studies", The Electronic Library, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 290-291.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Local studies collections are rightly seen as unique and distinctive parts of the library and their worth is recognized by professionals and users alike. This volume looks at the impact of the digital age, in particular the Internet, on this distinctive part of the library world.

The idea behind this book came from the author's experiences of teaching local studies to Masters students. With each passing year it became increasingly necessary to revise radically lectures to incorporate more and more innovative and imaginative Web sites devoted to aspects of local studies.

The book is divided into eight chapters representing broad themes:

  1. 1.

    The background to local studies and the Web.

  2. 2.

    The myth of parochialism.

  3. 3.

    Enquiry services.

  4. 4.

    Remote users and local materials.

  5. 5.


  6. 6.

    E‐collaboration and cooperation.

  7. 7.


  8. 8.

    Evaluation and appraisal.

While it is not possible to cover the subject exhaustively in one book, this one does provide a sound, practical overview of many of the main issues associated with local studies and the Internet.

The book is not about digitization; there are no discussions of the technicalities because that is outside the purpose and audience of this book. It focuses on public libraries as local studies remains something of a specialty for that sector. This book, though, should be of interest to other institutions and individuals connected with local sociology/history including special libraries of different genres and academic libraries.

The book is geared more towards practical benefit rather than theoretical discussion. It is not simply a systematic critical review of the literature on the many subjects discussed. Rather, its focus is more firmly rooted in the examination of the issues, problems, concerns and potential solutions of bringing local studies into the digital age. The discussion is based on empirical investigations of good practice and observation of Web‐based innovations over a number of years within the local studies sector.

The examples used in this book are said by the author to be based largely on those that have been deemed by the information and library professions as a whole to be examples of good or even best practice; others are included because they offer something innovative or telling, or because they fulfill particularly useful functions; some are included because they are “good” Web sites. The sample is indicative and by no means comprehensive. The importance of local studies staff undertaking regular thorough Internet searching cannot be underestimated and is noted at various points in the book.

Probably the best things about this particular book include matters of style and substance. It is beautifully presented with a clear, easy‐to‐read typeface with nice one‐inch borders facilitating notes and jottings. The bibliography is highly useful and current; the index is around five pages of clear reference guidance.

This one is great for personal collections and any library dealing with local sociological or historical issues.

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