The participatory public library: the Nordic experience

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

From collection to connection has been a buzzword in the library world for more than a decade. This catchy phrase indicates that users are seen not only as borrowers, but as active participants. The aim of this paper is to investigate and analyse three questions in relation to user participation in public libraries in a Nordic perspective. How can participation in public libraries be characterised? Why should libraries deal with user participation? What kinds of different user participation can be identified in public libraries?
The paper uses a selection of theoretical approaches and practical examples to obtain a varied understanding of user participation in public libraries. Research fields outside library and information science have developed a wide range of theoretical approaches on user participation. Examples from cultural policy, museum studies and participatory culture are selected to get a deeper understanding on participation in public libraries. The practical examples are chosen to illustrate the richness of different kinds of user participation in libraries.
There are six forms of active participation in libraries: volunteer programmes, interactive displays, workshops, co-creation, user-driven innovation and book clubs.
This paper is an overall synthesis of theoretical and practical aspects of user participation in public libraries. Furthermore, the paper challenges the deeply rooted assumption that participation in libraries takes place almost exclusively within digital contexts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Library World
Issue number9/10
Pages (from-to)546-556
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2016

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Legitimacy, Participation, Public libraries, Library 2.0, Library development, Cultural policy, Nordic countries

ID: 166008741