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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

Svanhild Aabø

The paper reports from a valuation study of the Norwegian public libraries, aiming to provide a better understanding of their total value, both use and non‐use value, as…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper reports from a valuation study of the Norwegian public libraries, aiming to provide a better understanding of their total value, both use and non‐use value, as viewed by the population. An objective was to explore whether or not the citizens found that their benefits outweighed the costs to provide them.

Design/methodology/approach

The study applies the contingent valuation method, developed in economics to valuate non‐market goods. Contingent valuation is based on representative questionnaire surveys and has been used to valuate several cultural goods, including a few library valuation studies.

Findings

The empirical data based on a representative population sample demonstrates that the value of the Norwegian public libraries decidedly outweigh their costs. Elicitation of the population's awareness of property rights to their local library showed that an overwhelming majority of the population (94 per cent) perceive they have such rights. The valuation result indicates that the benefits from the public libraries are four times their costs.

Research limitations/implications

The method is based on hypothetical markets. More contingent valuation studies of libraries are necessary to refine the measure instruments. The study explores the benefit‐cost relation at the national level. Further research is needed for studying the benefit‐cost relation at the municipal level.

Practical implications

The findings can be used as one way of documenting the value of public libraries to politicians, local authorities and the general public.

Originality/value

This appears to be the first contingent valuation study of public libraries at a national level, in Norway and internationally.

Details

New Library World, vol. 106 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4803

Keywords

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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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Article

Svanhild Aabø

The purpose of this paper is to show that the need to communicate the value of libraries is growing, and especially now during the global financial crisis. As a response…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to show that the need to communicate the value of libraries is growing, and especially now during the global financial crisis. As a response library valuation research is expanding and there is now a need for a status report.

Design/methodology/approach

The library valuation field is developing towards generating a critical mass of empirical studies. The focus of the meta‐analytical review is on the subgroup that reports a return on investment (ROI) or a cost‐benefit ratio. Meta‐analysis is a quantitative analysis of findings of previous studies, conducted to infer general findings and lessons from prior empirical research. The dataset is 38 library valuation studies reporting a return on investment figure or cost‐benefit ratio.

Findings

Of the 38 studies, 32 are of public libraries, a number high enough to indicate a tenable result. The meta‐analysis indicates that the patterns in the findings are consistent with expectations regarding the benefit types that are included in the ROI figure, the methods used, and the scope of the study.

Originality/value

This study appears to be the first meta‐analytical review of library studies reporting a return on investment figure. The tentative conclusion is that for each dollar invested in public libraries they return, on average, approximately four times more. This is a strong message with policy implications.

Details

New Library World, vol. 110 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4803

Keywords

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Article

Idunn Bøyum and Svanhild Aabø

– The purpose of this paper was to investigate how PhD students discover, choose and use information and literature for their research.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper was to investigate how PhD students discover, choose and use information and literature for their research.

Design/methodology/approach

Eight PhD students at the Norwegian Business School (BI) were interviewed. The interviews were based on a phenomenological approach.

Findings

The use of both library databases and Google Scholar is frequent and contextual. The informants ranked the library databases as more useful than Google Scholar. Methods for keeping up to date varied and were contextual. Although formal information seeking in library databases was seen as more academic than the tracking of references, this latter method was more widespread. Students felt they mastered the tools associated with formal information seeking, which constituted a continuous activity in their research practices. Wilson’s (1983) theory on cognitive authority may give a better understanding of the findings.

Practical implications

Acquiring knowledge about the information practices of PhD students in a specific discipline will help libraries to improve their services and acquire relevant resources for their users.

Originality/value

This paper examines PhD students’ ranking of information resources, identifies preferred methods for keeping up to date and reveals in which contexts the informants use either formal or social information-seeking practices.

Details

New Library World, vol. 116 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4803

Keywords

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Article

Pertti Vakkari, Svanhild Aabø, Ragnar Audunson, Frank Huysmans and Marjolein Oomes

– The purpose of this paper is to compare the perceived benefits of public libraries and their structure in the major areas of life between Finland, Norway and the Netherlands.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare the perceived benefits of public libraries and their structure in the major areas of life between Finland, Norway and the Netherlands.

Design/methodology/approach

The data were based on representative samples of Finnish, Norwegian and Dutch adult library users. In Finland a mail survey was used and in Norway and the Netherlands 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 structure of benefits was compared across countries by factor analysis.

Findings

The results showed that the level of the nineteen benefits observed was considerably higher, and the range of benefits remarkably broader in Finland compared to Norway and the Netherlands. It is likely that the greater supply of library services in Finland compared to the other two countries explains the differences in benefits derived from the public library. The study validated the measurement instrument for the perceived overall outcomes of public libraries.

Research limitations/implications

Comparing only three countries is too limited for producing valid results on the relations between the supply of library services and their use and the benefits derived from that use. Analyzing these associations in a larger sample of countries would create reliable results also for policy making.

Practical implications

The policy implications of these findings are discussed.

Originality/value

This is the first across-country comparison observing perceived benefits of public libraries across major areas of life.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 70 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

Content available
Article

Abstract

Details

New Library World, vol. 107 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4803

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Article

Anne Therese Macdonald

The purpose of this study is to determine whether or not a dedicated business center within a public library acts as a key success factor in a public library’s services to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to determine whether or not a dedicated business center within a public library acts as a key success factor in a public library’s services to the community entrepreneur.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire survey was sent to 88 public libraries with dedicated business centers, and posted to BRASS-L and BUSLIB-L, for input from public libraries without business centers. Interviews with three survey respondents and one local city official followed.

Findings

Fifty-seven per cent of all respondents felt that a dedicated business center is very essential or essential to the services provided to the entrepreneurial community. The services most often offered were workshops/seminars/classes, counseling sessions by collaborative agencies and one-on-one research sessions with librarians. The majority of responding libraries collaborated with a community business agency (80 per cent). Fifty-one per cent spend between 6 and 20 hours/month on the collaboration.

Research limitations/implications

Since 2007, many of the dedicated business centers in public libraries have closed or been consolidated with other sections and services of a public library. This should be further studied. Further research on librarian expertise in market and industry research is recommended.

Originality/value

This study updates the business services associated with public libraries business services since the push in the late 1990s for public libraries to be more active in community economic development.

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Article

Maja Dorota Wojciechowska

The purpose of this paper i to determine which group – the managerial personnel or the directors of libraries – had a more extensive social network and were more eager to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper i to determine which group – the managerial personnel or the directors of libraries – had a more extensive social network and were more eager to engage in cooperation, in other words – had the qualities believed to be important in managerial positions.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents the results of research on the levels of individual social capital, as well as the social activity among librarians in 20 countries across the world, which are important for integration with the local community and development of library services.

Findings

The research confirmed that library directors are more active than managerial personnel or line workers, although there were areas in which line workers and managers scored higher than directors. In some areas of civic activity, line workers and managers, rather than directors, led the way.

Research limitations/implications

This is the first research into the social capital and social activity of the managerial personnel of libraries conducted on such a large scale – in 20 countries across the world. The electronic survey resulted in the total of 6,593 valid responses, which were analysed statistically. The one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) statistics were calculated, and the chi-square test of independence and the Mann–Whitney U test were applied. The level of individual social capital was calculated on the basis of a resource generator – Questionnaire for the Measurement of Individual Social Capital (KPIKS).

Originality/value

This is the first research into the social capital and social activity of the managerial personnel of libraries conducted on such a large scale – in 20 countries across the world. The electronic survey resulted in the total of 6,593 valid responses, which were analysed statistically. The one-way ANOVA statistics were calculated, and the chi-square test of independence and the Mann–Whitney U test were applied. The level of individual social capital was calculated on the basis of a resource generator – Questionnaire for the Measurement of Individual Social Capital (KPIKS).

Details

Library Management, vol. 42 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-5124

Keywords

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