Public libraries in crises: between spaces of care and information infrastructures

Corble, Alice and van Melik, Rianne Public libraries in crises: between spaces of care and information infrastructures. In: van Melik, Rianne, Filion, Pierre and Doucet, Brian (eds.) Public space and mobility. Global reflections on COVID-19 and urban inequalities, 3 . Bristol University Press, Bristol. ISBN 9781529219005 (Accepted)

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This chapter starts with an overview of the national pictures of British and Dutch public libraries before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, after which we discuss two important changes in: 1) the library’s functioning and 2) the nature of librarianship. It is based on interviews with seven anonymised staff members (3 in NL, 4 in UK) and UK public library worker and campaigner Alan Wylie, who sits on the national ‘Cultural Renewal Taskforce’ for steering library services through the Covid-19 crisis. These interviews took place within the framework of our volunteering-as-research practices that already started in the years prior to the pandemic, respectively in a single library in a suburban context of Utrecht (NL) and a library service including multiple sites in a London borough (UK). Through this data we address the question of what the public library is for, when services are stripped back to the bare functional minimum of information provision, and their vital social spaces and infrastructures are suspended as the impact of both neoliberalisation and the pandemic takes its toll on public life.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: Professional Services > Library
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Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2021 08:34
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2021 08:59
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