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Article
Publication date: 29 December 2021

Jamie Johnston, Ágústa Pálsdóttir, Anna Mierzecka, Ragnar Andreas Audunson, Hans-Christoph Hobohm, Kerstin Rydbeck, Máté Tóth, Casper Hvenegaard Rasmussen, Henrik Jochumsen, Mahmood Khosrowjerdi and Sunniva Evjen

The overarching aim of this article is to consider to what extent the perceptions of librarians in Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Poland and Sweden reflect a…

Abstract

Purpose

The overarching aim of this article is to consider to what extent the perceptions of librarians in Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Poland and Sweden reflect a unified view of their professional role and the role of their institutions in supporting the formation of the public sphere and to what extent the variations reflect national contexts.

Design/methodology/approach

The multi-country comparison is based on online questionnaires. The central research questions are how do librarians legitimize the use of public resources to uphold a public library service? How do librarians perceive the role of public libraries as public spaces? How do librarians perceive their professional role and the competencies needed for it? Consideration is given to how the digital and social turns are reflected in the responses.

Findings

The results show evidence of a unified professional culture with clear influences from national contexts. A key finding is that librarians see giving access as central for both legitimizing library services and for the library's role as a public sphere institution. Strong support is shown for the social turn in supporting the formation of the public sphere while the digital turn appears to be a future challenge; one of seemingly increased importance due to the pandemic.

Research limitations/implications

This study shows that libraries across the seven countries have expanded beyond simply providing public access to their book-based collections and now serve as social, learning and creative spaces: both in the physical library and digitally. Qualitative research is needed concerning librarians' notions of public libraries and librarianship, which will provide a more in-depth understanding of the changing professional responsibilities and how public libraries recruit the associated competencies.

Originality/value

The article provides a much needed insight into how librarians perceive the role of public libraries in supporting the formation of the public sphere and democratic processes, as well as their own role.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 13 August 2019

Ragnar Audunson, Svanhild Aabø, Roger Blomgren, Hans-Christoph Hobohm, Henrik Jochumsen, Mahmood Khosrowjerdi, Rudolf Mumenthaler, Karsten Schuldt, Casper Hvenegaard Rasmussen, Kerstin Rydbeck, Máté Tóth and Andreas Vårheim

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the role of public libraries as institutions underpinning a democratic public sphere as reasons legitimizing libraries compared to…

1481

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the role of public libraries as institutions underpinning a democratic public sphere as reasons legitimizing libraries compared to reasons that are more traditional and the actual use of libraries as public sphere arenas.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey of representative samples of the adult population in six countries – Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Hungary and Switzerland – was undertaken.

Findings

Legitimations related to the libraries role as a meeting place and arena for public debate are ranked as the 3 least important out of 12 possible legitimations for upholding a public library service. Libraries are, however, used extensively by the users to access citizenship information and to participate in public sphere relevant meetings.

Originality/value

Few studies have empirically analyzed the role of libraries in upholding a democratic and sustainable public sphere. This study contributes in filling that gap.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 75 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 23 April 2019

Abstract

Details

European Origins of Library and Information Science
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-718-4

Abstract

Details

European Origins of Library and Information Science
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-718-4

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