In-between strengthened accessibility and economic demands: analysing self-service libraries from a user perspective

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Lisa Engström, Johanna Rivano Eckerdal

Purpose - The aim of this paper is to explore the implementation of self-service at public libraries from the perspective of their users. The implementation of self-service is related to a diverse societal context including for example an overall digitalisation, budget constraints and political expectations on public libraries to contribute to marketing the local community.
Methodology - Semi-structured interviews with users and observations have been undertaken at self-service libraries in the south of Sweden. The material is analysed by means of a theoretical framework consisting of previous critical LIS-research, Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis and Habermas’ theory of the colonisation of the lifeworld.
Findings - The implementation of self-service is affecting the users’ library practices as well as their expectations on the library. These expectations are shaped by various and sometimes competing discourses.
Social implications - To support public libraries’ role as democratic public spheres the complexity of the users’ understandings should be taken into consideration when implementing self-service.
Originality/value – The differing expectations articulated by the users, and the various discourses they can be related to, implicate a hegemonic struggle, corresponding to a changing view on public libraries.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Documentation
Volume73
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)145-159
Number of pages15
ISSN0022-0418
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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