Public libraries, social class and social justice

Pateman, John (2011) Public libraries, social class and social justice. Information, society and justice journal, 4 (2). pp. 57-70. ISSN 1756-1078


Libraries must be relevant to the needs of local communities which are becoming more diverse and multicultural. In this paper I will examine the link between inequality, social class and the use of public libraries. I will also build on ground breaking research in the UK - Open to All? The Public Library & Social Exclusion (Muddiman et al, 2000) - and cutting edge good practice in Canada via the Working Together Project (2004-2008). I will outline the practical steps which are required to develop needs-based and community-led library services.My overall theme is Public Libraries & Social Justice (Pateman & Vincent, 2010) and I will explore some of the challenges and barriers to creating socially inclusive libraries and how these can be overcome. I will provide a blue print and a road map for producing strategies, structures, systems and cultures which enable local communities to be fully involved and engaged in the planning, design, delivery and evaluation of their library services.

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