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Libraries and public perceptions: A comparative analysis of the European press. Methodological insights
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  • 1. Libraries and public perceptions: A comparative analysis of the European press Methodological insights Anna Galluzzi, MSc, PhD 5th International Conference on Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries 1
  • 2. Speech contents • Origins of the research • Aims and contents of the research • The numbers • Processing the articles • Some first findings • Conclusions 2
  • 3. Origins of the research • Much research and discussion about the future of libraries, particularly public libraries • The economic crisis has exacerbated the situation 3
  • 4. Origins of the research • The issue of the future of libraries has gone beyond the boundaries of the librarians' playground • Many methods have been applied to prove the social and economic impact of libraries 4
  • 5. An alternative method • The analysis of newspapers • Looking at newspapers is an attempt to move outside the specialised literature concerning libraries 5
  • 6. Experimenting a bottom-up method 6
  • 7. Strenghts and weaknessess • News selection starting mainly from the national and international press agencies • The choice depends on the interests of readership • But nowadays traditional newspapers are not the one and only conveyors of public opinions 7
  • 8. Strenghts and weaknessess • From the points of view of promptness and audience, the traditional newspapers have been completely walloped by the other media • Role in commenting, debating and analysing the news 8
  • 9. Strenghts and weaknessess In sum • Newspapers are not completely representative of the public opinion anymore • But they are an important detector of the issues at stakes 9
  • 10. Aims of the research • Aim: Quantifying and qualifying the presence of issues concerning libraries in the European press over the last years • Research questions: ▫ the most discussed topics ▫ differences between the European countries ▫ differences between the European newspapers 10
  • 11. Criteria and parameters of the research • Chronological span covered: 2008 to 2012 • The focus has been put on Europe • Countries taken into account: The UK, France, Spain and Italy 11
  • 12. Criteria and parameters of the research • Newspapers: Two for each country in their print editions - among those of national relevance and the most widespread, covering both the centre-left area and the centre-right 12
  • 13. Criteria and parameters of the research • The selected newspapers: ▫ The UK: The Times and The Guardian ▫ France: Le Figaro and Le Monde ▫ Spain: El Mundo and El País ▫ Italy: Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica 13
  • 14. Criteria and parameters of the research • Sources: ▫ Lexis Nexis™ News for Le Monde only and Factiva™ for all the other titles • The source selected was the national print edition (without the local editions) 14
  • 15. Criteria and parameters of the research • Query parameters: ▫ "librar*" and "bibliot*" as keywords in the full text search, according to the language of the newspaper (for the French newspapers only "mediat*” too) 15
  • 16. The numbers • The articles retrieved: 41,611 • The pertinent ones, i.e. those articles which concern libraries in a proper sense: 3,659 16
  • 17. Uses of “library” not pertinent • personal libraries • house furniture • the place where an event or an exhibition is held • the place where a murder or a crime occurs • the title of a book series • a bunch of physical or digital objects (e.g. iTunes as a music digital library) • the name of sections of newspapers • idiomatic expressions and figures of speech encompassing the term “library”, like “Library of Babel” or "bookworm" (which is "library mouse" in French, Italian and Spanish) • libraries cited in tender announcements • libraries cited in biographies and stories 17
  • 18. Processing the articles • After the selection, a text and content analysis of the articles was needed • The analysis was carried out manually and no text analysis software was used 18
  • 19. Processing the articles • Why? ▫ risk either to run the wrong procedures and queries or to create fictitious relationships among concepts and documents ▫ furthermore, the analysis of articles in four different languages would have increased the variables and the potential inconsistency of the results 19
  • 20. Phases • Each article was identified with a univocal name • An Excel worksheet was prepared • The articles were analysed and coded ▫ the texts were carefully reviewed and all concepts and ideas were annotated and then grouped • A number of pivot tables were used to sort and summarise the data 20
  • 21. Coding parameters • Country • Newspaper title • Year of publication • Prevalence or not of libraries as subject of the article • Type of library considered • Main topic of the article • The newspaper section where the article is published • In case the article talks about libraries of other countries, the country it talks about 21
  • 22. The topics • Mission/Roles • Conservation/Holdings/ Catalogue • Digitisation/Digital libraries • History • Reading/Marketing • Politics/Strategy/ Management • Library closures/ Budget cuts • Internet/E-book/ Technology • Services/Users • Staff/Recruitment • New libraries/New buildings • Acquisitions/Open access • Buildings/Architecture 22
  • 23. The topics • Some groupings need an explanation ▫ Conservation/Holdings/Catalogue ▫ Acquisitions/Open Access 23
  • 24. Some first findings • The data analysis and processing is ongoing and the research findings are far from being complete and somewhat meaningful • As for now, some first findings in form of tables and graphs can be offered with some first comments 24
  • 25. Articles where the library subject is prevalent vs. those where it is not 1653 45%2003 55% Non prevalent Prevalent 25
  • 26. Types of libraries (% on articles where the library subject prevails) 1% 16% 48% 18% 8% 9% Libraries in general Public National Academic School Special/Specialised 26
  • 27. Types of libraries per country (on articles where the library subject prevails) 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% France Italy Spain UK Special/Specialised School Academic National Public Libraries in general 27
  • 28. Ranking of the most popular topics (over the 5% threshold) 1. Politics/Strategy/Management 2. Library closures/Budget cuts 3. Digital/Digitisation 4. Services/Users 5. Conservation/Holdings/Catalogue 6. New libraries/New buildings 7. Mission/Roles 28
  • 29. Main topics (over 5% threshold) per country (% on articles where the library subject prevails) 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% France Italy Spain UK New libraries/New buildings Services/Users Library closures/Budget cuts Politics/Strategy/Management Digital/Digitisation Conservation/Holdings/Catalogue Mission/Roles 29
  • 30. Main topics (over 5% threshold) per year (% on articles where the library subject prevails) 30 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 New libraries/New buildings Services/Users Library closures/Budget cuts Politics/Strategy/Management Digital/Digitisation Conservation/Holdings/Catalogue Mission/Roles
  • 31. Conclusions • The main trends: ▫ the prevalence of public and national libraries in the debate ▫ a general agreement on the most popular topics ▫ no relevant connection between the political areas the newspapers belong to and the topics dealt with ▫ the effect of the economic crisis on the evolution of the debate is evident 31
  • 32. Conclusions • The research proves to be effective: ▫ to highlight topics and approaches ▫ to understand how they relate with the common thoughts and the general feelings 32
  • 33. Thank you! anna.galluzzi@gmail.com 33