Samfunnsoppdrag under press Erfaringer og vurderinger i norske bibliotek under Covid-19
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionNordic Journal of Library and Information Studies. 2021, 2 (1), 17-37. https://doi.org/10.7146/njlis.v2i1.125251
As the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world and Norway in 2020, libraries were among the institutions that were impacted. The social mission of libraries to stay open and offer services, cultural experiences and reliable information was put under pressure. In this article we depart from a survey of 843 library workers across public, academic, special, and school libraries in Norway. The survey was conducted in June-August 2020 and contains quantitative and qualitative data on how library workers experienced lockdown and the responses from libraries. The article addresses how the Covid-19 crisis impacted libraries’ social missions and what circumstances contribute to crisis management in Norwegian libraries. We use institutional theories on isomorphism and institutional pressures, as well as general theories on crisis management, to analyse the material. We conclude that the pandemic has shown the potential of digital library services, but also find that closed library premises strongly influenced how libraries were able to fulfil their social missions. Our findings also indicate the need for a sectorial leadership in times of crisis. In our discussion, we describe a situation where structures and plans to manage situations of crises are lacking. For libraries to be part of society’s democratic infrastructure, their roles and social missions need to be considered in crisis management plans.