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Value and impact of public libraries - Leo Appleton Northumbria July 2015


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Paper for the 11th Northumbria Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries, Edinburgh, July 2015

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Value and impact of public libraries - Leo Appleton Northumbria July 2015

  1. 1. • Leo Appleton, PhD Student, Centre for Social Informatics, Edinburgh Napier University (@leoappleton) • Supervisors: Professor Hazel Hall (@hazelh), Professor Alistair Duff, Professor Robert Raesides • Paper presentation for the 11th Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services, 20th – 22nd July, 2015, Edinburgh “How do public libraries demonstrate their impact upon citizenship development in the UK? Results of a focus group methodology”
  2. 2. • Background to the research project • Theoretical concepts • Research questions • Methodology • Pilot study overview • Analysis and results if pilot study • Next steps Overview
  3. 3. • Professional interest • Why public libraries? • Literature review themes: – Role of the public library – Value and impact as performance measures – Exchange theory – Information Society – Social capital, Human capital, Transactional capital – Concept of citizenship Background to the research project
  4. 4. • Borrowed theory • Exchange theory and social exchange theory • Information Society Studies – Information sector – Information flows – Information technology – Information overload • Social capital – Public libraries creating and generating social capital Theoretical concepts
  5. 5. • To what extent is an individual’s position advantaged or disadvantaged as a result of using public libraries? • What is the impact of using a public library service on individual and community citizenship? Research Questions
  6. 6. • Focus group methodology – Constructed questioning and discussion – Deep, focused data – Standard social science approach • Interviews with senior library staff – Reflections on the focus group discussion • Longitudinal cohort approach to focus groups – Each focus group is convened 3 times during the course of the study – Senior library staff interviewed upon presentation of the results of each focus group • Scope of project – Representative of UK library users Methodology
  7. 7. Pilot study • Focus group at Liverpool Central Library (Sept 2014) Age Gender Occupation Nationality Libraries used Reasons Participant 1 45 - 54 F Lecturer Indian / British Central Books, Computers, Events Participant 2 75 - 84 M Retired professor Indian Central Interest / Knowledge Participant 3 65 - 74 F Retired mental health worker British Breck Rd. Borrowing, Reference, Computers Participant 4 16 - 24 M College student British Central Reading, Computers Participant 5 55 - 64 M Retired German Central Computers, Internet Participant 6 35 - 44 M Photographer Venezuelan Central Books, Borrowing, Internet Participant 7 55 - 64 F Retired British Central, Allerton, Childwall Books, Studying Participant 8 55 - 64 F Social worker British Central, Allerton, Childwall Books, Borrowing, Studying
  8. 8. Pilot study • Questions on: – Feelings and attitudes? – Who are libraries for? – Citizenship? – What do you like about your library? • Results categories: – Knowledge – Inclusion – Access
  9. 9. Pilot focus group analysis
  10. 10. Pilot focus group analysis • “When I come in, I have a dead positive vibe, when I walk through the doors straight away, ‘cos I know that I only need to spend fifteen minutes in here, and I’ll have lost myself in a book…. You don’t care what’s going on!” • “I could be quite dramatic and say that reading saved my life!”
  11. 11. • “…handling all those really old manuscripts and books,….it’s knowledge, just a body of knowledge. And knowledge is power I believe. Knowledge is power!”  Pilot focus group - Knowledge
  12. 12. • “The library is a place of great safety and security.”  • “It’s inclusive. It makes you feel part of the group. I think that society consists of groups doesn’t it? But I see the library more as a coherent group and it’s very inclusive of people from different backgrounds, different ethnic backgrounds and cultures.”  • “It is the one place where everyone is equal”  • “When you’re on the streets no one cares about you. It’s like every man for himself. When you come in here you can just communicate with anyone, you can discuss things with people. There’s loads of things that you can do.”  Pilot focus group - Integration
  13. 13. • “It’s the total safety of being in an environment where you can study. It’s a place of peace. Every book is open to you.”  • “As a teenager, I was always aware that the library, when you walked through it, nobody stopped you reaching for a book on anything….. as a child and a young teenager, it does empower you. You don’t have to understand what’s inside it. You’re just able to hold it.” Pilot focus group - Access
  14. 14. General conclusion
  15. 15. Next steps Edinburgh Liverpool Lincoln Essex Southwark
  16. 16. Autumn 2015 Winter 2015 Spring 2016 Summer 2016 Autumn 2016 Winter 2016 Spring 2017 Summer 2017 Autumn 2017 Winter 2017 Liverpool #2 #3 Lincoln #1 #2 #3 Edinburgh #1 #2 #3 Southwark #1 #2 #3 Essex #1 #2 #3 Next steps – Focus Groups
  17. 17. • Focus on access, integration and knowledge – Linked to social capital and Information Society • Acknowledgement of benefit and development of longitudinal period – Discussion and reflection at each stage • Understanding of citizenship development through public library use • Compelling evidence of the value and impact of public libraries Anticipated findings
  18. 18. • Public Libraries • Huysmans, F. & Oomes, M. (2013) Measuring the public library’s societal value: a methodological research programme. IFLA Journal, 39(2), 168 – 177. • Kerslake, E. & Kinnel, M. (1997) The Social Impact of Public Libraries: A Literature Review, London : British Library. • McMenemy , D. (2009) The Public Library, London, Facet • Orr, R. H. (1973) Measuring the goodness of library services: a general framework for considering quantitative measures. Journal of Documentation, 29(3), 41 – 50. • Social Capital • Coleman, J. (2000) Social capital in the creation of human capital. in E. L. Lesser (ed.) Knowledge and Social Capital (pp. 17 – 41), Boston : Butterworth-Heinemann. • Goulding, A. (2004) Libraries and social capital. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 36(1), 3 – 6. • Johnson, C. (2012) How do public libraries create social capital?: an analysis of interactions between library staff and patrons. Library and Information Science Research, 34, 52 – 62. • Putnam, R. D. (2000) Bowling Alone: the Collapse and Revival of American Community, New York, Touchstone. • Information Society • Duff, A. (2000) Information Society Studies London : Routledge. • Feather, J. (2013) The Information Society: A Study of Continuity and Change (6th ed.) London : Facet. • Webster, F. (2007) Theories of the Information Society, 3rd ed., London : Routledge • Focus Group Methods • Bloor, M, Frankland, J., Thomas, M. and Robson, K (2002) Focus Groups in Social Research, London : Sage. • Krueger, R. and Casey, M.-A. (2009) Focus Groups: a practical guide for applied research, 4th ed. Los Angeles, Sage. • Morgan, D. (1997) Focus Groups as Qualitative Research, Thousand Oaks, Sage. Selected readings