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Public libraries as public sphere institutions: A comparative study of perceptions of the public library's role in six European countries
Oslo Metropolitan Univ, Dept Archivist Lib & Informat Sci, Fac Social Sci, Oslo, Norway.
Oslo Metropolitan Univ, Dept Archivist Lib & Informat Sci, Fac Social Sci, Oslo, Norway.
Boras Univ, Sch Lib & Informat Sci, Boras, Sweden.
Univ Appl Sci, Dept Informat Sci, Potsdam, Germany.
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2019 (English)In: Journal of Documentation, ISSN 0022-0418, E-ISSN 1758-7379, Vol. 75, no 6, p. 1396-1415Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 75, no 6, p. 1396-1415
Keywords [en]
Public libraries, Democracy, Public sphere, Citizenship information, Community meeting place, Social role of libraries
National Category
Information Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-395793DOI: 10.1108/JD-02-2019-0015ISI: 000487075600010OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-395793DiVA, id: diva2:1365726
Available from: 2019-10-25 Created: 2019-10-25 Last updated: 2019-10-25Bibliographically approved

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Rydbeck, Kerstin

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