Public Library Representations and Internet Appropriations
Keywords:social representations, Internet, public libraries, reading practices, readers profiles, ethnographic observation, in-depth interviews, Portugal
May the changes in the representations of the public library be propitiated by readers' appropriations of the Internet? To answer this question, a theoretically-driven and empirically-based research was developed in a public library in Portugal, combining the analysis of documents uses, the ethnography of space and Internet use, of social relations developed while reading, with the analysis of representations of the public library. No clear-cut association emerged between social-demographics or user profiles, and representations, in general. No disruptive Internet "impact" was found: Internet use may contribute to reinforce traditional representations of the library, while it may also update and democratise other representations. If the library and the Internet are represented as synonymous, the former does not make sense without the latter; but an Internet widespread and intensive use conflicts with the image of an institution dedicated to high-brow culture. Changes in uses of the public library are, instead, clearly associated with new types of readers, which in their turn reflect changes in urban social composition.
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Copyright (c) 2013 Paula Sequeiros
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