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  • The Publicness of Local Libraries: Insights From Local Libraries Turned Festival Venues in Dublin

    Bernadette Quinn, Theresa Ryan

    Chapter from the book: Smith, A et al. 2022. Festivals and the City: The Contested Geographies of Urban Events.


    In an increasingly digital age public libraries have had to adapt to rapid changes in how information is produced, disseminated and consumed. This has led to questions about whether their physical presence matters any longer. In addition, they have been subjected to public funding cuts which seem likely to be exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic as demands on the public purse intensify. In terms of governance, as with other public spaces, there are signs of a move away from direct state involvement to arrangements involving a range of social actors. Developments like this which see the state reduce its oversight and involvement with public spaces have generally been interpreted negatively. In this context, Capillé (2017, 409) noted the importance of investigating the ‘publicness of public libraries and their value for society’. This chapter reports the findings of a study investigating the kinds of publicness that libraries foster. Empirically, it used a qualitative open-ended survey tool to gather data from people attending Dublin Festival of History events at six local libraries. The findings yield insight into people’s library usage, their understanding of the local library as a public space and the role that festivals and events play in opening it up to wider use. While the libraries studied create public spaces where groups of like-minded people can easily gather, reproduce shared meanings and generally feel included, they are not engaging for everyone. Study participants felt that libraries are under-valued and that barriers to accessing the public space of the local library are very real.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Quinn B. & Ryan T. 2022. The Publicness of Local Libraries: Insights From Local Libraries Turned Festival Venues in Dublin. In: Smith, A et al (eds.), Festivals and the City. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book64.e

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    Published on Aug. 23, 2022