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The role of libraries in cultural centres Abroad: an insight

Juan Jose Prieto Gutierrez (Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain)
Francisco Segado Boj (Universidad Internacional de La Rioja, Madrid, Spain)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 11 July 2016




This research paper sets up a typology of libraries managed by cultural centers abroad. Nearly 2,200 libraries linked to a tens of different cultural organizations not only provide traditional services such as loan and access to printed and audiovisual materials but also approach local citizens, offering help and services in matters of education, literacy, cooperation, social issues or development. These actions may fit under the label of cultural diplomacy actions. This paper aims to analyze the relevance of those cultural centers and offer a classification through a table including networks of institutions of the 30 most significant cultural centers worldwide.


This study includes the analysis of all foreign cultural centers in the world, as well as the situation, description and analysis of libraries belonging to the centers. Enumeration of the 30 largest libraries in the world is also included.


The findings help to view and share with the community the importance and necessity of libraries belonging to cultural centers abroad. Library networks are analyzed, and more than 2,000 institutions that help local communities are discovered.

Research limitations/implications

There is some difficulty to list and describe the dozens of library centers. There is no association that brings together this type of institutions.

Practical implications

The most important implication, written in the Conclusion section, is need for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions to help such libraries with a specific section.

Social implications

Libraries abroad are institutions able to help the local citizens and enable basic and essential services for the growth of society, as you can read in the article, some essential services are limited in some countries. Libraries abroad could work many times as public centers.


It is the first time that all library networks abroad are analyzed, and, thus, the value and originality of the article is maximum. The author has focused on the 30 most important libraries that more value give to the society and help citizens.



Prieto Gutierrez, J.J. and Segado Boj, F. (2016), "The role of libraries in cultural centres Abroad: an insight", New Library World, Vol. 117 No. 7/8, pp. 475-484.



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