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What is the Future of Libraries?

By: , Posted on: September 15, 2014

Libraries and Public Perception
Sneak peek below! Chapter 1: Wondering about the future of libraries

This question is frequently posed, with widespread research into the social and economic impact of libraries.

Clearly, the perception to be at a turning point in the library history is pervasive in the library environment and, when going through the specialised literature on this topic, it is easy to develop a feel and an appreciation for the complexity, thoughtfulness and passion with which these debates are argued.

Six years after the emergence of the economic crisis and after the shift towards the participatory and social Web is basically accomplished, it could be interesting to check whether the fierce debate among librarians about the future of libraries has any echo in the general society, which aspects of this debate have more consideration and which public perception is conveyed by the mass media.

Newspapers play an important role in forming public perceptions, but how do newspapers present libraries, their past, present and future? Nobody has yet taken the press to task on the quantity and quality of articles on libraries.

Libraries and Public Perceptions answers just this, through comparative textual analysis of newspapers in Europe, focusing on the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain.

3,659 pertinent articles coming from The Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Le Figaro, La Repubblica, Corriere della Sera, El Paìs e El Mundo have been analysed and coded according to the following parameters: type of library, main topic of the article, newspaper section where the article is published, and – in case the article talks about libraries of other countries – the considered country.

The quantitative analysis points out that:

  • almost half of the total articles are devoted to public libraries;
  • France is the most attentive country towards news and events referring to foreign libraries, whereas the other countries seem less interested in what happens outside their borders;
  • the British newspapers are the most interested in giving voice to their readership and external reviewers;
  • Politics/Strategy/Management, Library closures/Budget cuts, Digital library/Digitisation, Services/Users, Conservation/Holdings/Catalogue are the most discussed topics,
  • the effect of the economic crisis on the evolution of the debate over the last years is evident both in the presence/absence and in the rise/decline of some topics (e.g. “New libraries/New buildings” declines, while “Library closures/Budget cuts” rises).

The qualitative research has given further insights in the idea of libraries conveyed by the newspapers and suggested many strategies to libraries to promote themselves and plan their future.

But to know about this you have to wait for the next post!

If you are looking forwarding to finding out what people and journalists think about the future of libraries read Libraries and Public Perception: A Comparative Analysis of the European Press

The contents of the book are organised in five chapters:

  • Wondering about the future of libraries;
  • Measuring the value of libraries;
  • Libraries in the newspapers;
  • Contemporary challenges and public perception;
  • Which library model from the newspapers: a synthesis.

Take a look inside the book! Find the first chapter below. Let us know what you think in the comments section!

Download (PDF, 824KB)

About the Author

Anna GalluzziAnna Galluzzi graduated from the University of Tuscia in Viterbo in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Specialization for Archivists and Librarians, in 1997. She then went on to receive a Degree in Library and Information Science at the University of Rome “La Sapienza, a Master (MSc) in Management of Library and Information Services at the University of Aberystwyth in Wales, and a PhD in Library Science at the University of Udine. Since 2003, she has been working as Parliamentary Administrator and Librarian at the Senate Library in Rome. Prior to that, she was contract professor in Library and Information Science and Library Management at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, as well as teacher in professional classes and speaker at many national and international conferences. She has authored numerous articles, papers, and books.

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