Legitimacy for large public libraries in the digital age

Vivienne Waller
2008 Library Review  
Purpose This paper critically analyses recent developments in the relationship of large public libraries with digital technologies, suggesting a way of rethinking the future of large public libraries. Design/methodology/approach This paper bases its critical analysis on a review of the literature and reference to specific cases. Historical quotes preceding sections augment the argument that many of the current concerns about digital technologies are not new issues for libraries. Findings Issues
more » ... es. Findings Issues around library take up of digital technology are continuations of debates that have occurred throughout the history of public libraries about the role of the library. In Australia, library policy makers are focusing on technology and an imagined user in an effort to prove the legitimacy of large public libraries to funding bodies, the library profession and library users. Such attempts seem doomed to fail. Practical implications (if applicable) Public libraries need to be clear about their purpose as publicly funded institutions in the digital age. This requires a renewed understanding of a library's publics and a critical understanding of the nature of services available using digital technologies. Originality/value This paper presents an alternative way of thinking about the future of large public libraries, with much of the discussion also relevant to local public libraries.
doi:10.1108/00242530810875159 fatcat:ucg5qn6tybhmxeeqzc3ucttpzm