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Title: Research activities in public libraries
Author: Goodall, Deborah Lynne
Awarding Body: University of Northumbria at Newcastle
Current Institution: Northumbria University
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis focuses on the relationship between public libraries, that is, those library services provided by local authorities under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act for use by the general public, and research conducted in such services by professional library staff - 'practitioner-researchers'- within the local government context. The aims of the study are: • To examine the relationships between local authorities, public library services, and research activities. • To review and evaluate contemporary research activities in public library services carried out by practitioner-researchers. • To identify and investigate the use of particular research methods and techniques used by practitioner-researchers. • To analyse, and provide a clear understanding of, limitations in current practice. Chapter One introduces the study and states the parameters and constraints of the research. The time period covered by this thesis is from the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act until April 1998. Chapter Two argues that as local government moves from a traditional model of service provision to a model of activities in support of strategic policy objectives, more attention will need to be given to 'deep' research in order to address cross-cutting issues. Chapter Three reviews the public library research scene from three perspectives, historical, thematic and current, and demonstrates the emergence of a more coherent approach with co-ordination and funding at a national level. It also shows that research methods remain undeveloped in the public library service as a whole. Research activity is largely confined to simpler issues of service development and does not extend to research addressing the impact of the service. Chapter Four outlines and explains the methodology used for the fieldwork. It demonstrates the rigour incorporated in the naturalistic inquiry approach, verifies the sample, and describes the process of data analysis. Chapter Five examines current practice in public library services through a series of twenty interviews with Chief Librarians. An overview of the findings is followed by a more detailed analysis which draws from the qualitative data. The analysis is set in context, making links with the earlier literature reviews. The closing section broadens the discussion to consider the influence of research on policy. Chapter Six synthesises the themes of the thesis. A description of the new agenda, and an analysis of its implications for research and organisational structures, enables a reconsideration of the rationale for research in local government. It is argued that simply demonstrating the relevance of the service is not enough; the real contribution of research must be in terms of policy development. Approaches to research, and in particular research methods, are reviewed to assess their suitability and a way forward is identified.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Practitioner-researchers ; Local government