The emergence and impact of neoliberal ideology on UK public library policy, 1997-2010

Greene, M. and McMenemy, D. (2012) The emergence and impact of neoliberal ideology on UK public library policy, 1997-2010. In: Spink, A. and Heinström, J. (eds.) Library and Information Science Trends and Research: Europe. Series: Library and information science (6). Emerald: Bingley, pp. 13-41. ISBN 9781780527147 (doi: 10.1108/S1876-0562(2012)0000006005)

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Purpose — The chapter seeks to examine the impact of neoliberal language on the library profession in the United Kingdom. Since New Labour's election in 1997 public service restructuring in the United Kingdom took on a more oblique managerialist and consumerist approach. The impact of managerialism in the public library service has focused mainly on modernising and improving services to the individual user, and is based on scenarios where public libraries have to model themselves on the private sector, and where managers have been empowered over professionals. Design/methodology/approach — The chapter uses a mixed methods approach by combining content and discourse analysis to examine how neoliberal discourses have impacted on public librarianship through examination of government policy documents, and other works on public libraries in the era under study. Findings — The study highlights neoliberal narratives within public library policy documents in the period, with emphasis on deprofessionalisation and consumerist attitudes related to public choice evident. The discussion reveals how narratives of elitism and decline are used to describe the public library service, which reinforces negative stereotypes of a service in distress. Research limitations/implications — The study only relates to the period 1997–2010 with an emphasis on the United Kingdom, thus cannot be seen to be representative of all public library services. Originality/value — The study utilises a mixed method approach to examine narratives within public library policy, and reflects on an important period in public library development, and offers a unique insight into the period.

Item Type:Book Sections
Keywords:Neoliberal ideology, public libraries, public library policy.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McMenemy, Dr David
Authors: Greene, M., and McMenemy, D.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Information Studies

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