ThesisPDF Available

The more things change: the role of the independent library in the 21st century

Authors:
  • Adelaide Central School of Art

Abstract

Independent libraries are stand-alone libraries that do not have parent organisations such as local councils, educational institutions or other organisations. Historically, independent libraries have been considered the precursors to modern public library systems. As such, although thousands of these libraries existed in the 17th to 19th centuries, by the midpoint of the 20th century, the majority had disappeared or been absorbed into public library systems. However, a number have survived, and new ones have come into existence in the second half of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st century. Their existence raises the question: what is the role of the independent library in the 21st century? This research examines that role through analysis of websites, histories, mission statements, and testimonials, as well as visits to independent libraries where possible. Using place theory as a theoretical lens, it emerges that independent libraries are meeting the needs of communities not currently met by mainstream public and academic libraries. These needs include serving minority and marginalised communities, providing access to subject specialisations, providing places for contemplation and quiet study, and providing a place – both physical and virtual – for the creation and sharing of stories. Independent libraries also highlight two other roles they share with mainstream public and academic libraries. The first is the development of social and community identity through story and the connections made between past, present, and future. This speaks to the role of the library as a memory institution. The second is the role of the library as fourth place: the place for our creative and intellectual lives. This role extends Oldenburg’s (1999) third place theory.
A preview of the PDF is not available
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
There are three models for community archives in China. The first one is where community archives are kept in government-funded/government-established museums or archives. The second is where community archives are kept by scholarly organizations such as universities. The third involves the community establishing its own archive. This last model is very unusual in China. The PiCun Culture and Art Museum of Migrant Labor (PCMML) provides an example of this model as it is the only independent community archives focusing on migrant workers in China. This paper explores the emergence and development of PCMML, its impact on community members and challenges faced including funding and staffing, but also those unique to China—PCMML is greatly influenced by a range of national and local government policies and regulations. Conclusions are that survival strategies for independent community archives in China are dependent on three dimensions: the community itself, society and the government. Cultural consciousness of the community is the premise for the establishment and sustainability of independent community archives, and independent community archives can be the public space to cultivate cultural consciousness of community members and thus activates community members’ agency to document, preserve and disseminate their own history. At the same time, independent community archives also need to engage with broader society to avoid involution and gain support and understanding. Independent community archives are constrained by government policies and regulations, so it is essential for them to develop strategic relationships with government.
Article
Africanist scholars seeking archives on Africa and Africans often travel back to the continent to conduct research, or more commonly, to the various repositories of former colonial powers in Western Europe to find their information. However, there are some archives located in the United States that, although they are not dedicated exclusively to Africanist materials, contain an array of resources relevant to Africanist research. One such archive is that of the American Baptist Historical Society (ABHS). The American Baptist Historical Society was founded in 1853, and, according to a conversation with Communications and Reading Specialist Betsy Dunbar, contains many records “by, about, for, and against Baptists.”
Book
An introduction and overview of the development of library buildings throughout history, discussing the relationship between the form of the book, its use and the development of the architecture across the globe from the beginning of writing to the present day. Richly illustrated with photographs taken especially for the book by leading architectural photographer Will Pryce.