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Stories Not Statistics: A Qualitative Narrative Exploration of the Value of Public Libraries in the United Kingdom

Dodd, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-0478-6456 & Bawden, D. ORCID: 0000-0002-0478-6456 (2024). Stories Not Statistics: A Qualitative Narrative Exploration of the Value of Public Libraries in the United Kingdom. The Library Quarterly, 94(2), pp. 159-179. doi: 10.1086/729227


This study investigates the value of the public library service, and library buildings in particular, in qualitative terms, with a focus on how the public library can address issues of loneliness and belonging. A qualitative narrative approach is taken, to develop 'library stories' and provide a deeper understanding which complements quantitative studies and library statistics. A three-stage research approach is taken: an initial literature analysis to identify issues and themes, leads to a directed content analysis of some of this material to generate micro-narratives, which are complemented by an evocative autoethnography. Interrelated connections emerge concerning where our bodies belong, and vulnerable and marginalised users; and new types of knowledges are identified. This is a novel combination of methods for library/information research, with the potential to highlight in new ways the value of library services and buildings. The study deals with UK public libraries between 2000 and 2021.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright: The University of Chicago Press. This is the author accepted manuscript of an article published in The Library Quarterly.
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Library & Information Science
[thumbnail of stories not statistics - accepted version.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 30 April 2025 due to copyright restrictions.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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