How do public libraries function as meeting places?
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionAabø, S., Audunson, R. & Vårheim, A. (2010). "How do public libraries function as meeting places?" Library & Information Science Research 32 (1), 16-26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lisr.2009.07.008
How are libraries used as meeting places, and by whom? Through survey data, six categories of places are identified: the library as a "square," as a place for meeting diverse people, as a public sphere, as a place for joint activities with friends and colleagues, a metameeting place, and as a place for virtual meetings. Representative samples of the population in three townships in Oslo, each with a markedly different demographic profile, are surveyed. Multivariate regression analyses are performed to analyze why some people use the library for a range of meetings and others do not, as well as to examine variations in the use of the library for different kinds of meetings. Public libraries are shown to be used for a variety of meetings. Community involvement is more important than township and demographic variables in explaining variations in use of the library as a meeting place. Correlations between low income and low education and high use of the library as a meeting place were found, indicating that the library as a meeting place plays a substantial role in equalizing the possibilities of being an active citizen across social and economic differences. The study contributes to understanding the role of the public library in a multicultural context. The public library as a unique and complex meeting place has important implications for future librarianship.