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The university library as bellwether: examining the public role of Higher Education through listening to the library

Quinn, Katherine 2022. The university library as bellwether: examining the public role of Higher Education through listening to the library. Civic Sociology 3 (1) , 32635. 10.1525/cs.2022.32635

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This article engages the university library with live debates concerning the transformation of higher education. Focused within the British context, the article draws together previously distinct literatures from sociology, studies in higher education, and library and information studies to argue that the library represents an untapped lens through which to understand the university, its interface with civil society, and efforts to retain and reenergise its civic role. Beyond being solely diagnostic, the library is introduced as a bellwether—an institution that can also incubate trends towards privatisation and against publicness in higher education. Through exploration of an unusual joint-use public-academic library in Britain which combines academic and public collections, staff, and communities, the article’s analysis highlights both the opportunities that this “disruptive” shared space provides and the challenges posed by such an arrangement. Examples explored include the encroachment of private academic institutions in public spaces, the increasing asymmetry of fortunes between public and academic bodies, and the consequences of new library management technologies on the temporality and integrity of the library, and by consequence, the university.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Additional Information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CCBY-4.0)
Publisher: University of California Press
ISSN: 2637-9155
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 January 2022
Date of Acceptance: 5 January 2022
Last Modified: 24 May 2023 00:15

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