Public Libraries in the Smart City
Public Libraries in the Smart City
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Like museums, galleries and universities, public libraries have long been understood as 'cultural infrastructure': foundational institutions of the liberal public sphere. They have been valued for consolidating a shared public culture, one predicated on universal access to cultural materials that promote truth and knowledge, and facilitate a capacity to critically engage in public life. While libraries continue to hold to many of these traditional values, it is clear that their historical chara…
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Like museums, galleries and universities, public libraries have long been understood as 'cultural infrastructure': foundational institutions of the liberal public sphere. They have been valued for consolidating a shared public culture, one predicated on universal access to cultural materials that promote truth and knowledge, and facilitate a capacity to critically engage in public life. While libraries continue to hold to many of these traditional values, it is clear that their historical character and social function are now being dramatically redefined. As institutions, they are responding both to a rapidly changing digital culture, and the divergent needs of an increasingly heterogeneous and fragmented public. These pressures have transformed all aspects of the modern library: from the way it looks as a physical space, to the kinds of practices and behaviours it invites, to its role in the city, the neighbourhood, the community and the economy. This book examines the reasons for, implications of, and tensions emerging from this transformation. It makes the case for considering libraries beyond the cultural frameworks that have historically underpinned library scholarship. Instead, it seeks to understand how powerful narratives around technological change, and the economic agendas attached to these, are shaping the way libraries are evolving as institutions.
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Like museums, galleries and universities, public libraries have long been understood as 'cultural infrastructure': foundational institutions of the liberal public sphere. They have been valued for consolidating a shared public culture, one predicated on universal access to cultural materials that promote truth and knowledge, and facilitate a capacity to critically engage in public life. While libraries continue to hold to many of these traditional values, it is clear that their historical character and social function are now being dramatically redefined. As institutions, they are responding both to a rapidly changing digital culture, and the divergent needs of an increasingly heterogeneous and fragmented public. These pressures have transformed all aspects of the modern library: from the way it looks as a physical space, to the kinds of practices and behaviours it invites, to its role in the city, the neighbourhood, the community and the economy. This book examines the reasons for, implications of, and tensions emerging from this transformation. It makes the case for considering libraries beyond the cultural frameworks that have historically underpinned library scholarship. Instead, it seeks to understand how powerful narratives around technological change, and the economic agendas attached to these, are shaping the way libraries are evolving as institutions.

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