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Non-traditional library collections – in digital and other worlds

Katarina Michnik (The Swedish School of Library and Information Science, University of Borås, Borås, Sweden)
Catarina Eriksson (The Swedish School of Library and Information Science, University of Borås, Borås, Sweden)

Interlending & Document Supply

ISSN: 0264-1615

Article publication date: 11 November 2014




The purpose of this article is to study how public libraries argue for the inclusion of non-traditional library collections and to identify public library objectives related to these collections.


The data was collected through a Web survey which was sent to public library managers in all Swedish municipalities. Data were analyzed using a model in which public library practices are divided into three categories relating to the public library’s goals, activities and tools.


Three different main arguments are used to support the introduction of non-traditional collections: as a contribution to public library goals or activities to attract non-users and as the result of external requests or needs. Through analysis of the survey results, the public library’s common goal, a socially sustainable society, was identified. Other library goals identified were an environmentally sustainable society and an improved library.

Practical implications

The results may inspire practitioners to reflect upon how non-traditional collections are related to library goals and activities and what consequences their inclusion may have for the library. For example, if non-traditional collections are used only to attract new users, there is a risk of creating expectations that the library cannot live up to.


Today, focus is placed on the conditions for public libraries in the digital world. It is easy to overlook the importance of non-traditional library collections, and the role they fulfill. This article draws attention to these collections and their possible consequences for public libraries.



Michnik, K. and Eriksson, C. (2014), "Non-traditional library collections – in digital and other worlds", Interlending & Document Supply, Vol. 42 No. 4, pp. 165-170.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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