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DFG project on public libraries: Visualization of research output

To share the research findings with the public, we developed a booklet that presents the findings of the project "Public libraries between scarce financial resources and communal public service provision" in a simplified way. The booklet is now available for viewing online or download here (in english and german)!

For the past two years, Katja Thiele, together with Britta Klagge, investigated the development of public libraries in a project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) entitled "Public libraries between scarce financial resources and communal public service provision" (grant no. 424608044). The project focuses on the following questions: How have public libraries developed in their local contexts? What strategies do local authorities use to respond to processes of digitisation and austerity? How does this transition affect access to education and culture as well as educational justice?

The study of public libraries has opened up a new subject for geography and has also made it possible to empirically and conceptually deepen the previously neglected topic of social infrastructures against the background of the debates on austerity urbanism and smart cities.

Spatial context and methodology:

This project examined the developments of public libraries in three cities in Europe: Bonn (DE), Leicester (GB) and Malmö (SE). The cities are university towns of roughly similar number of inhabitants. However, they are located in different welfare state contexts and are subject to different traditions of political governance. Moreover, they have different legal regimes as far as public library services are concerned. In order to consider and relate both the changes at the local level and the structures and power relations framing them, the work was methodologically founded on two perspectives: first, the urban regime perspective, which focuses on the specific constellations at the local level (e.g. Peck 2015), and second, a multilevel perspective, through which the role of supralocal developments for the municipal regime constellations is considered (Belina 2018: 53).

The project applied a qualitative methodological mix drawing on three pillars: 1) a content analysis of relevant documents, local press articles, and statistical data from relevant monitoring agencies; 2) interviews with experts in the field of public libraries and 3) participatory observation at library facilities and attendance of events (e.g., networking meetings; conferences; and webinars on library development, digitisation, and/or education).

Findings and Booklet:

The findings cover various aspects. These include findings on the development of public libraries and their role in public services as well as findings on the development of urban regimes and their influence on library development.

The results are explained in several publications, most importantly: Thiele (2020) and Thiele & Klagge (2021).

For some years now, researchers in human geography and the social sciences have been discussing the importance of Citizen Science, that means the value of public participation in scientific research (e.g. Peters 2013: 12). In the COVID-19 crisis, we have also seen how important it is that science does not take place in the ivory tower. In order to prevent a broadening skepticism towards science, scientists have to find ways to communicate their research results in a generally understandable way and to address target groups outside science.

To share the research findings with the public, we developed a booklet that presents the findings of the project on public libraries in a simplified way. This booklet is now available for viewing online or download here.

Version for screen (ENG)

Bildschirmversion (DE)

Version for self-printing (ENG)
ATTENTION! The version for self-printing must be printed on A3 double-sided and preferably in color. It can then be folded into a small A6 booklet that fits in a pocket. Folding instructions are on page 7 of the booklet.

Druckversion (DE)
ACHTUNG!
Die Version zum Selbstausdrucken muss auf A3 doppelseitig und vorzugsweise in Farbe gedruckt werden. Sie kann dann zu einem kleinen A6-Heft gefaltet werden, das in eine Tasche passt. Eine Anleitung zum Falten befindet sich auf Seite 7 des Booklets.

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References:

Belina, B. (2018): Scale und die Stadt. In: Belina, B.; Naumann, M.; Strüver, A. (Hrsg.): Handbuch Kritische Stadtgeographie. (Westfälisches Dampfboot) Münster: 53-58.

Peck, J. (2015): Austerity Urbanism. The Neoliberal Crisis of American Cities. (Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung). New York Office. https://www.rosalux.de/fileadmin/rls_uploads/pdfs/engl/peck_austerity_urbanism_eng.pdf  (22.06.2021).

Peters, S. (2013): Das Forschen aller - Artistic Research als Wissensproduktion zwischen Kunst, Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft. (transcript) Bielefeld.

 

Illustration und Layout: Katja Thiele, Irene Johannsen

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