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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 (2023). Stories Not Statistics: A Qualitative Narrative Exploration of the Value of Public Libraries in the United Kingdom. The Library Quarterly,


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 due to be 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
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Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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