The Public Library

Dec 2008 | 240pp

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The Public Library

David McMenemy

Public libraries have changed beyond anyone's predictions in the past ten years and are at a vital stage in their historical development. This timely book is the first standalone text to examine the role and services of the UK public library in the 21st century context.
The book discusses the nature and functions of the modern public library service, from its beginnings as the street-corner university, through its delivery of state-of-the-art services and beyond. At the heart of the book is a passionate argument for the professional and public significance of the public library service.
The key chapters are:
  • public libraries: the modern context
  • historical development of public libraries
  • equity of access
  • cultural and leisure roles
  • information, advice and informed citizenship
  • lifelong learning
  • the impact of ICT
  • management, governance and budgeting issues
  • performance measurement and evaluation
  • professional and staffing issues
  • marketing, branding and buildings
  • the public library of tomorrow.  
Readership: Of interest to all students and researchers of library and information science, as well as professionals in public libraries, this book is an advocacy tool for an essential service consistently under pressure.

1. Public libraries: the modern context
  • Introduction 
  • The 21st-century context 
  • Government publications 
  • The Coates Report 
  • Research on public libraries 
  • Service challenges 
  • Conclusion 
  • References  
2. Historical development of public libraries in the UK 
  • Introduction 
  • The early antecedents 
  • The public library movement 
  • Moving to the Act 
  • Early public library development 
  • Philanthropy and growth 
  • The McColvin Report and post-war developments 
  • The modern statutory context 
  • Conclusion 
  • References   
3. Equity of access
  • Introduction 
  • Core values 
  • Censorship 
  • Enabling equitable access to materials 
  • Social inclusion 
  • Public library users 
  • Reaching excluded users 
  • Impact of library closures and reduced opening hours 
  • Conclusion 
  • References    
4. Cultural and leisure roles 
  • Introduction 
  • Culture or leisure? 
  • Borrowing of books in practice 
  • Promotion of literacy and reading 
  • Children and young people’s services 
  • Music, films and other media 
  • Conclusion 
  • References  
5. Information, advice and informed citizenship 
  • Introduction 
  • Information types 
  • Ethics of information – any question answered? 
  • Reference services 
  • Virtual reference services 
  • Guidelines for reference and information services 
  • Informed citizenship 
  • Community information 
  • Business information 
  • Heritage and digitization services 
  • Genealogy services 
  • Information after civil disasters 
  • Web services 
  • Conclusion 
  • References  
6. Lifelong learning 
  • Introduction 
  • What is lifelong learning? 
  • The public library and learning 
  • UK policy background 
  • Literacy and ICT literacy 
  • Public library initiatives 
  • Conclusion 
  • References   
7. The impact of information and communications technology
  • Introduction 
  • Understanding the use of technology in libraries 
  • The People’s Network 
  • Public access computing 
  • Technology-enhanced services 
  • Conclusion 
  • References   
8. Management, governance and budgeting issues
  • Introduction 
  • Local authorities 
  • Local government reorganization 
  • Budgets 
  • Cultural change in management and service delivery 
  • Leadership and management trends 
  • Emergence of managerialism 
  • Conclusion 
  • References   
9. Performance measurement and evaluation 
  • Introduction 
  • Performance measurement 
  • Modes of measurement 
  • Measurement of public library services 
  • Performance indicators in UK libraries 
  • Measurement of Scottish public libraries 
  • Measuring economic value 
  • The consequences of performance measurement 
  • Conclusion 
  • References  
10. Professional and staffing issues 
  • Introduction 
  • The local authority staffing structure 
  • Professional issues 
  • Ethical issues 
  • Professional vs paraprofessional 
  • Nature of working 
  • Hierarchy of needs 
  • Conclusion 
  • References   
11. Marketing, branding and buildings
  • Introduction 
  • Marketing public libraries 
  • Attracting users 
  • Mission statements 
  • Branding and rebranding 
  • Challenges in infrastructure and location 
  • Conclusion 
  • References   
12. Conclusion: the public library of tomorrow 
  • Introduction 
  • Public libraries: an outdated concept? 
  • Revisiting service themes 
  • Predictions of demise 
  • Public libraries: lessons from retail? 
  • The equity and excellence debate 
  • Public libraries and ICTs 
  • Education of public librarians 
  • The public library and librarian of the future 
  • Conclusion 
  • References   
Selected reading

"...provides a clear overview of the main issues relating to public libraries and would provide a valuable introduction for those with little previous knowledge of the sector."
- New Library World

David McMenemy BA(Hons) MSc MCLIP FHEA is a Lecturer in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde. He has over 10 years’ experience in public libraries, with roles in reference and lending services, digitization, and, finally, working on the roll-out programme for the People’s Network in a large city service. He is a former editor of Library Review and has co-authored several books for Facet Publishing including Delivering Digital Services: a handbook for public libraries and learning centres, Librarianship: an introduction and The Public Library Training Handbook: a frontline service delivery manual.

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