Sunday, August 18, 2013

Public libraries, the crisis of the welfare state and social networks: the Portuguese case #wlic2013

It's the IFLA World library and Information Conference in Singapore, and another post from the Librarians and social movements: a force for change session
Luisa Alvim (in a paper coauthored with Jose Antonio Calixto) talked about Public libraries, the crisis of the welfare state and social networks: the Portuguese case. These are photos of a couple of her slides, which used striking images. She talked about the background for public libraries and the current problems consequent on the economic recession. Because of the pressures on the welfare state there was a question about whether they could (with reduced resources) continue to have social concerns and reduce social exclusion. She highlighted the vital role of public libraries, and at the same time the threat because of public sector cuts.
The speaker identified the role of Web 2.0 in battling these problems and generate social capital for the library: libraries can use them to fulfil their social mission. The authors had done some research into Facebook use.
In May 2013 99 public libraries (about a third of the total) had a Facebook presence. The paper's authors collected information on the libraries involvement in social actions: 42% did have social actions in the month they studied. Examples are: contributing to the sense of community, being a lifelong learning centre, promoting peace/international understanding, promoting intercultural dialogue. Most of these were promoted to the general population, 14% to the elderly and there were a number of more specific populations targetted by one or a few initiatives. The speaker observed that they felt that this did not present as much engagement with the current social crisis as might have been hoped. "It's time to rethink the public library's mission" and social media can be an important part of that.
The full paper is here:

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