Oral History of Public Libraries

Public libraries are considered an essential service by both their staff and those who frequent them. They are extremely important to the development of literacy among children and an invaluable tool for providing information and other services to their neighborhoods, especially lower-income individuals and families. Libraries enrich communities and they have been faced with massive changes since the shift from their original purpose as quiet repositories of books to the bustling hubs of digital, printed, and community services they offer today. Times have changed and libraries have adapted surprisingly well, where able. 

For my oral history project I would like to investigate the changes that public libraries and their staff and patrons have experienced over the last few decades. Libraries have seen intense developments ranging from the types of information they contain, to the massive technology shift experienced, to the services offered to the local communities.

By interviewing librarians, administrators, and patrons I would like to find out how libraries have changed over time and how they have adapted to the many challenges faced including funding cuts and censorship. The number of women working in libraries greatly outnumbers the men so I would also like to hear the experiences of women who have been in this field for many decades. I want to know how things have changed not just as a librarian but as a woman in the workplace. 

To gather this information I could use my knowledge as a public library employee and interview my former colleagues, administrators, and customers in Alberta or I could seek out a project about public libraries here in the UK using new contacts and get a British perspective. 

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One Comment on “Oral History of Public Libraries”

  1. Graham Smith says:

    Fantastic idea and timely. It could be a sister to the Memories of Fiction project: https://memoriesoffictiondotcom.wordpress.com/ There is also a project in Sheffield that would be seful to look at that you can find on the MoF pages. Please categorize posts and a photo would be good….


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