The act of being a librarian: A study into how the position of the public library in the social infrastructure affects librarians and their practices

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Public libraries in the Netherlands have become increasingly more socially involved. Several scholars, like Klinenberg (2018), consider it part of the social infrastructure. In this research, the affect of the library’s role in the social infrastructure on librarians’ practices has been investigated. Practices are defined as: routinized activities within a context, consisting of the interconnected elements: knowledge, meaning and objects. This research was executed by performing participant observation at four case studies, followed by a focus group. Four variables were investigated, as they would be very influential on the practices of library workers: space, staff composition, community demand and finance. It was found that the daily practices of the participating library workers were affected by their position within the social infrastructure in various ways. This was led by a focus on demand driven activities, a newer concept in their field. This made the job of librarians more fluid, requiring a certain form of adaptability. These forms of librarizing often increased tension between the staff. The participants felt that the public library should increase their focus on the social and care practices and reach a wider consensus over what the role of the library for the community should be.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen