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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

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Article

Ragnar Audunson, Svanhild Aabø, Roger Blomgren, Sunniva Evjen, Henrik Jochumsen, Håkon Larsen, Casper Hvenegaard Rasmussen, Andreas Vårheim, Jamie Johnston and Masanori Koizumi

The purpose of this paper is to examine the shaping of public libraries as an infrastructure for a sustainable public sphere through a comprehensive literature review.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the shaping of public libraries as an infrastructure for a sustainable public sphere through a comprehensive literature review.

Design/methodology/approach

In order to capture the whole picture of this research field, we utilize comprehensive review methodology. The major research questions are: first, to what extent have research topics regarding libraries as public sphere institutions expanded and diversified? Which theoretical perspectives inform research? Second, which challenges and topics does the research focus upon, such as: social inclusion and equal access to information; digital inequalities; censorship and freedom of expression; and access to places and spaces with a democratic potential and the role of libraries in that respect? Third, what influence has social media exerted on libraries in the context of the expanding digital world?

Findings

The authors identified mainly four themes regarding the public library and public sphere, such as: the importance of public libraries by using Habermas’s theory; the function of meeting places within the public library and setting those places in the center of the library in order to enhance and encourage democracy; the relationship between social inclusion and public libraries and its functions in current society such as diminishing the digital divide; and the emerging electronic resources and arena of SNS in public libraries and utilizing them to reach citizens.

Originality/value

Capturing the recent history of this research field through comprehensive review is valuable.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 75 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

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Article

Ragnar Audunson, Ragnar Nordlie and Inger Cathrine Spangen

Compares and analyses two approaches to structuring library and information science (LIS) education and research, the discipline oriented, and the approach which is…

Abstract

Compares and analyses two approaches to structuring library and information science (LIS) education and research, the discipline oriented, and the approach which is denoted “the complete librarian”. The complete librarian designates an educational ideal aiming at integrating the different knowledge‐domains of LIS‐practice. Maintains that “the complete librarian” represents a valuable epistemological approach, which can supplement discipline‐oriented approaches, and is capable of generating knowledge that it might be difficult to grasp via discipline‐oriented approaches. Far‐reaching tendencies in education and research in general and within LIS‐education in particular, threaten the approach of “the complete librarian”. Discusses some strategies for securing the survival of the approach and its benefits.

Details

New Library World, vol. 104 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4803

Keywords

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Article

Ragnar Audunson and Ragnar Nordlie

The term “information literacy” does not have an exact parallel in the Norwegian language, but information policy strategies as well as educational reforms are…

Abstract

The term “information literacy” does not have an exact parallel in the Norwegian language, but information policy strategies as well as educational reforms are nevertheless preoccupied with the main elements covered by the term – the ability to find and critically evaluate information within a learning and ICT‐based context. Information literacy consciousness seems to be highest in colleges and universities. Information literacy can be regarded as an essential part of education and learning, of the political goal of promoting social equality and of industrial and economic innovation and competitive ability. In the first planning documents dealing with Norway on the information superhighway, the traditional ideal of equality seemed central. Assignment of responsibility for policies in this field to the ministry of industry and trade may have led to the values of equality being somewhat toned down at the expense of innovation and competitive ability.

Details

Library Review, vol. 52 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0024-2535

Keywords

Abstract

Details

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

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Article

Sunniva Evjen and Ragnar Audunson

The purpose of this paper is to discusses people's images of public libraries, and whether or not they constitute a barrier to institutional change.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discusses people's images of public libraries, and whether or not they constitute a barrier to institutional change.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on two studies carried out in two Norwegian cities, Drammen and Oslo, where this is a current topic. Focus is on discerning conservative and liberal attitudes of what a library is, and how such attitudes affect people's perception of change. How the library's social role is viewed by the informants is also considered. In total, nine focus groups were interviewed. In Drammen, two user groups and two non‐user groups with younger (18‐39) and older (40+) participants. The same was the case in Oslo, with one additional expert group. Each group contained 6 participants, giving a total of 54 respondents.

Findings

The informants had many thoughts regarding what a library is and should be, and drew a picture of the public library as a complex institution with many tasks. They had many ideas for library developments, especially regarding social activities. The non‐users had a slightly more conservative view of what a public library is, while the users were more informed about new developments and facilities. It seemed important to all groups that the public libraries are updated and inviting, but they expressed that recognisability was important.

Practical implications

Both liberal and conservative attitudes were found among the respondents, but interestingly enough, there was little negativity towards change. On the contrary, it seems change is perceived as a requirement for public libraries to stay relevant. Their role as meeting places is one of the areas both users and non‐users expressed great interest in, and certainly an area worth investigating further.

Originality/value

There is not much research analysing the relationship and possible conflicts between different stakeholders. The research undertaken is likely to be of importance both to the academic community and the field of practice.

Details

New Library World, vol. 110 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4803

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 62 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

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Abstract

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 62 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

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Article

Máté Tóth and Ragnar Audunson

The study aims to report on a research project that analyzed social websites for booklovers. These sites represent a service that is promising for public libraries in…

Abstract

Purpose

The study aims to report on a research project that analyzed social websites for booklovers. These sites represent a service that is promising for public libraries in their efforts to find new ways in promoting reading and literature. At the same time the growth of such sites is another example of how technological developments challenge librarianship. Many of these sites are established and run independently from the library field.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reports from a research comparing two such websites – the Norwegian Bokelskere.no and the Hungarian Moly.hu. A questionnaire was published on the two websites in mid September 2010. It was accessible for approximately 20 days. A total of 777 users filled in and returned the questionnaire.

Findings

As the typical user of Moly/Bokelskere is a young, ethnic Hungarian or Norwegian, well educated, female from the bigger cities the complexity and pluralism of society is not reflected in the websites in the same way as it is in physical libraries. They are not heavy library users, and they have a relatively low trust concerning libraries in comparison with other sources of information. The sites are mainly used as information sources and not as places where one can meet with others. Although the social dimension of reading appears, it is related mainly to the family or friends and not to strangers.

Research limitations/implications

It would be inaccurate to claim that the study gives a comprehensive overview on social sites for booklovers. The relatively high number of respondents from the two analyzed websites provides an extensive, but not comprehensive, sample. Self‐recruitment of respondents might cause biases compared with a randomly drawn sample.

Practical implications

The study on which the paper is based is a part of the PLACE project, which aims at exploring the role of public libraries as meeting places. The study generates knowledge on the potential and role of virtual meeting places that is relevant for public libraries in their efforts to adapt to a new reality.

Social implications

The study generates knowledge that can be of importance for developing libraries and library policies in relation to digital meeting places.

Originality/value

There are few studies analyzing literary websites for booklovers and the study contributes in developing a new research field in library and information science.

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Article

Pertti Vakkari, Svanhild Aabø, Ragnar Audunson, Frank Huysmans, Nahyun Kwon, Marjolein Oomes and Sei-Ching Joanna Sin

The purpose of this paper is to compare the perceived benefits of public libraries between five culturally different countries: Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, South…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare the perceived benefits of public libraries between five culturally different countries: Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, South Korea and the USA.

Design/methodology/approach

The data were based on representative samples of Finnish, Norwegian, Dutch, Korean and American adult library users. In Finland a mail survey was used and in other countries web surveys were used for data collection. The distribution of the proportion of those benefiting from the library in various areas of life at least sometimes was compared across countries. The pattern of benefits was compared across countries by forming four outcome indexes from the 19 benefit areas. The differences in the outcomes between the countries were explained by demographics and library use variables.

Findings

The intensity of perceived benefits differ considerably, with the Finns and Americans reporting a higher level of benefits than the South Koreans, who in turn derive more profit than the Norwegians and the Dutch. The large difference in library supply between Finland and other countries may explain the differences in the perceived benefits in part of other countries but the USA.

Research limitations/implications

The study covered only some socio-economic and library usage factors as independent variables explaining the variation of benefit patterns. A more thorough analysis of library supply between the countries may explain some differences in perceived benefits.

Practical implications

The policy implications of these findings are discussed.

Originality/value

This is the first across-country study comparing and explaining the patterns of perceived benefits between culturally different countries.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 72 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

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