The empty library – or where are the books?

Andersen, Jack and Skouvig, Laura The empty library – or where are the books?, 2008 . In 17th annual BOBCATSSS symposium (Bobcatsss 2009), Porto (Portugal), 28-30 January 2009. (Unpublished) [Conference paper]

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English abstract

The paper analyses the different view points that were present in the debate and concludes that there are fundamental dichotomies regarding the expected role of the public library in the contemporary Danish society. The debate was initiated by a December 2007 interview with the newly appointed director, Pernille Schaltz, of the main public library in Copenhagen. She stated that books need competition from the new media. The lending department of the library should not be seen as the library’s stock but as a show case for the library’s services (Politiken, December 28th, 2007). Soon after, the first critics entered the scene and voiced the fear that these statements meant the death of quality fiction in the public libraries. The critics relied in their arguments on the assumed truth that a library is equal to a collection of books – and that a library without books is not a library. The more librarians who argued for an inclusion of new media in the library’s collection, the more writers and publishers feared for the future of books in the library – in particular for the less popular part of fiction literature. This means that the debate has revitalised a long buried debate on quality as a principle for selecting materials in the public libraries. But any discussion on what materials the public library should contain is, in fact, a discussion on what kind of library we (the society) want. Thus, the article demonstrates that the recent debate made explicit a discussion of the role, vision and legitimacy of the 21st century Danish public library.

Item type: Conference paper
Keywords: Discourse analysis, Michel Foucault, public libraries, history, media theory.
Subjects: D. Libraries as physical collections. > DC. Public libraries.
Depositing user: 2009 Bobcatsss
Date deposited: 31 Mar 2009
Last modified: 14 Dec 2012 21:32
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10760/12922

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