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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…

1154

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. 78 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 16 February 2021

Maja Dorota Wojciechowska

Social capital, understood as intangible community values available through a network of connections, is a factor in the development of societies and improving quality of

Abstract

Purpose

Social capital, understood as intangible community values available through a network of connections, is a factor in the development of societies and improving quality of life. It helps to remove economic inequalities and prevent poverty and social exclusion, stimulate social and regional development, civic attitudes and social engagement and build a civic society as well as local and regional identity. Many of these tasks may be implemented by libraries, which, apart from providing access to information, may also offer a number of services associated with social needs. The purpose of this paper is to present the roles and functions that libraries may serve in local communities in terms of assistance, integration and development based on classical social capital theories.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reviews the classical concepts of social capital in the context of libraries. It analyses the findings of Pierre-Félix Bourdieu, James Coleman, Francis Fukuyama, Robert Putnam, Nan Lin, Ronald Stuart Burt, Wayne Baker and Alejandro Portes. Based on their respective concepts, the paper analyses the role of the contemporary library in the social life of local communities. In particular, it focuses on the possible new functions that public libraries may serve.

Findings

A critical review of the concept of social capital revealed certain dependencies between libraries and their neighbourhoods. With new services that respond to the actual social needs, libraries may serve as a keystone, namely they may integrate, animate and engage local communities. This, however, requires a certain approach to be adopted by the personnel and governing authorities as well as infrastructure and tangible resources.

Originality/value

The social engagement of libraries is usually described from the practical perspective (reports on the services provided) or in the context of research on the impact of respective projects on specific groups of users (research reports). A broader approach, based on original social theories, is rarely encountered. The paper draws on classical concepts of social capital and is a contribution to the discussion on possible uses of those concepts based on an analysis of the role of libraries in social life and in strengthening the social capital of local communities.

Details

Library Management, vol. 42 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-5124

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 31 May 2019

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.

3092

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

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…

1720

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

Article
Publication date: 11 January 2013

Tingting Jiang

Social library systems are Web 2.0 sites where users discover interesting books, movies, and music, etc., collect these resources to their personal libraries, and share…

2023

Abstract

Purpose

Social library systems are Web 2.0 sites where users discover interesting books, movies, and music, etc., collect these resources to their personal libraries, and share their collections with others. The purpose of this study is to identify the information seeking modes adopted by users in this context as well as to reveal the characteristics of the users who are dominated by each mode.

Design/methodology/approach

An online survey was conducted to capture the background and behavior data of regular users from Douban, the most influential Chinese‐language social library system. The “friend‐of‐a‐friend” recruitment technique resulted in a total of 129 responses, 112 of which were valid and analyzed to generate both descriptive and inferential statistics.

Findings

Searching, browsing, encountering, and monitoring are the four major information seeking modes adopted by social library system users. The majority of the users tend to combine two or more modes, but each user has a dominating one that helps define him/her as a searcher, browser, encounterer, or monitor. While searching is the most widely adopted mode, browsers are the most prevalent type of information seekers. Different information seekers do not demonstrate significantly different characteristics by and large, however with some exceptions.

Originality/value

This study is one of the first to investigate how users look for resources in social library systems, a problem neglected by previous studies mostly focusing on how users organize and tag resources. The research findings enrich our understanding of social library systems as diverse and dynamic information seeking environments. This in turn will provide useful implications for their interface design to more effectively address the needs and expectations of special types of information seekers.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 69 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 27 March 2009

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.

2567

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

Article
Publication date: 19 October 2007

Jenny Bronstein

The purpose of the study is to identify current trends in library and information science (LIS) education related to the user‐centred approach adopted by libraries and…

2920

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the study is to identify current trends in library and information science (LIS) education related to the user‐centred approach adopted by libraries and information professionals in response to the advent of the internet.

Design/methodology/approach

Course descriptions of 30 LIS departments around the world were analyzed based on Wilson's map of information science that proposes five basic foundations fields: information content, information systems, people, organizations, and policy. The analysis focused on the user‐centred people field and on the interactions between this field and the other four fields proposed by the model. Course descriptions found in the departments' web sites were analyzed using the content analysis method and eight categories were revealed in the analysis that represent the different interactions between the fields.

Findings

Findings show that LIS departments have been successful in infusing the traditional information‐related curricula with a user‐centred approach but they have yet to develop areas of study that strengthen the students' social skills.

Research limitations/implications

The data collection method limited the scope of the study. By restricting the data collection to course descriptions as advertised in the departments' web sites the study could only analyze the departments' intent and not their actual work in the field.

Originality/value

The study recommends the implementation of courses dealing with social or personal skills.

Details

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, vol. 5 no. 2/3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-996X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 23 November 2021

Anwar Muhammad and Tang Zhiwei

The basic purpose of this paper is to find out library professionals how these libraries perceive the importance of social media and emerging technologies what would make…

951

Abstract

Purpose

The basic purpose of this paper is to find out library professionals how these libraries perceive the importance of social media and emerging technologies what would make the difference in the libraries and how they help libraries to create environments flexible and exclusive.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reviews various options for libraries to use different forms of social media to market their resources and services.

Findings

The reviewed literature has identified the importance and use of emerging technologies and social media in libraries. This paper can help library professionals to engage themselves to use social media and emerging technologies to bring innovation into the library sources and services.

Originality/value

This paper provides a review of social media and emerging technologies used for marketing in the libraries environment.

Details

Library Hi Tech News, vol. 38 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0741-9058

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 11 May 2015

Olga Einasto

The purpose of this paper is to analyse institutional and functional development of a library with the help of communication theories. The library as a social institution…

1858

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse institutional and functional development of a library with the help of communication theories. The library as a social institution should have a quite strong position in today’s information society, but new ways of information search have made its position unstable. Thus, a library needs theoretical and cultural-political comprehension and reassessment. The paper tries to answer the questions as to how a library can satisfy the needs of modern society and which strategy of library communication will be in demand tomorrow.

Design/methodology/approach

The theoretical background is represented by communication theories of Marshal McLuhan, Denis McQuail and Yuri Lotman, as well as Michel Foucault’s concepts of disciplinary power and governmentality.

Findings

The analysis revealed that library–user communication is based primarily on power relations, where “access” is the main keyword. The article brought out differences in library communicative processes in the “Gutenberg Galaxy” and today’s global network society, “Zuckerberg Era”. The analysis showed that library–user relationship is shifting from disciplinary power and monologue to the governmentality and new communicative forms, dialogue and participation.

Research limitations/implications

The study demonstrates the possibility of implication of communication theories for library functional analysis. The new studies investigating which methods and forms of communication do libraries use today, how are the elements of power relations transforming would be very useful for the understanding of the topic.

Practical implications

The study proposes to libraries some ideas that may be useful for developing the library communication strategy.

Originality/value

This study, based on the communicative approach, corresponds well to library phenomenon and nature, as well as allows for reflection on the role of libraries in the society of today and future.

Details

New Library World, vol. 116 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4803

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 February 1988

Philip Whiteman

A number of fundamental values for the library profession are identified and discussed, specifically: a respect for the physical forms of recorded knowledge; the steady…

Abstract

A number of fundamental values for the library profession are identified and discussed, specifically: a respect for the physical forms of recorded knowledge; the steady building of useful collections; the tradition of personal service in libraries; and their cultural and social roles. Recent trends and policies which threaten these values are examined and two areas are considered (the Library Association and the library and information science schools) in which action might serve to challenge these threats.

Details

Library Review, vol. 37 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0024-2535

Keywords

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