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Documentality and legitimacy in future libraries – an analytical framework for initiated speculation

Joacim Hansson (School of Cultural Studies, Linneaus University, Växjö, Sweden)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 12 January 2015




The purpose of this article is to contribute to a discussion about the future of librarianship.


An analytical framework is used to discuss the future of libraries. The framework is based on current trends in contemporary librarianship and is used as a way of structuring predictions about the future of librarianship. Special attention is given to public libraries and academic libraries.


Libraries are seen moving from a traditional situation with a high degree of constitutive documentality and internal legitimacy with collections in focus to one with a high degree of performative documentality and external legitimacy, with adjustment to user needs as the prime goal. This development is related to the emergence of New Public Management and can be seen both in public and academic libraries. It is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.


The analytical framework and concepts used are originally developed for this text and prove to be valuable tools in fulfilling the purpose of the article. It represents a new and original way of discussing the future of libraries.



The author would like to thank the Document Academy network for encouragement to pursue the ideas presented in this article. The author would particularly like to mention the following colleagues for their creative input: Carol Choksy, University of Indiana, Bloomington, USA; Mats Dahlström, University of Borås, Sweden; Vesa Suominen, University of Oulu, Finland; Paul Schifleet, Charles Sturt University, Australia; Isto Huvila, Åbo Akademi University, Finland.


Hansson, J. (2015), "Documentality and legitimacy in future libraries – an analytical framework for initiated speculation", New Library World, Vol. 116 No. 1/2, pp. 4-14.



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