Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Public Libraries and Social Justice

Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Public Libraries and Social Justice

Article excerpt

Worldwide, and to varying degrees, there are indicators of a survival mentality among public library professionals at a time when broadly public libraries have never been more needed, and are in more demand, by more people, in more countries. Whether that survival mentality is self imposed or really is a consequence of current local or globally derived financial stresses in countries such as the Greece, Spain, the US and UK--is a moot point.

What is not in question, however, is that a survival, half glass empty, view of the prospects for public library growth and development in the 21St century is not only not justified, but at the local level is likely to be defeating of aspiration for better libraries for all. The question then becomes, how does the profession avoid of escape the public library survival mentality dead end--and resume, reconceptualise and reassert its mission agenda?

A refreshing and highly recommended new book from the UK, Public libraries and social justice (1) provides one profound response to that question. It states that

   While much of the library profession remains in denial about social
   inclusion, the need to tackle this agenda becomes ever more urgent
   as the gap between rich and poor continues to widen ... If public
   libraries are to develop and grow in the future and become relevant
   to the majority of their local communities, then they need to
   abandon outmoded concepts of excellence and fully grasp the equity
   agenda.

   This book examines the historical background to social exclusion
   and the strategic context in terms of government and professional
   policy ... Most importantly, it proposes a manifesto for change and
   ways in which public libraries can be transformed into needs based
   services. … 
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