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Title: Public libraries, local authorship and regional identity
Author: Limbert, Holly
ISNI:       0000 0004 7968 9559
Awarding Body: University of Derby
Current Institution: University of Derby
Date of Award: 2019
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Locally produced literature in the America and the UK has been used to promote the unique literary heritage and regional identity of the places in which they are situated. This has been said to cultivate a sense of community cohesion, a shared sense of pride in local tradition and recognition of the cultural significance of place. Little research has addressed how this is achieved, to what extent regional literature can be considered minority in comparison to popular genre fiction, or how this affects the user communities in both Jackson Mississippi and in the UK. This study aimed to explore to what extent the Jackson Hinds Library System in Mississippi and Public Library services in the UK are meeting the needs of their user demographics through the promotion of and engagement with fiction or literature written by local writers. An extensive literature review was conducted to survey previous research in the field, along with a search of online library catalogues which enabled the researcher to make assumptions about the position of local literature in terms of visibility and categorisation as minority. Interviews took place via email and face to face with academics with expertise in the field of southern women's fiction. Because librarians in Jackson were unavailable for interview, an online survey was distributed to Derbyshire County libraries, the JiscMail mailing list lis-pub-libs and University of Sheffield iSchool students. Results revealed that regional or local literature was generally not considered minority writing either in Jackson or the UK. The promotion of locally produced white female fiction in Hinds County was viewed as potentially detrimental to the user demographics served by the Hinds County Library system. Whilst UK librarians viewed the promotion of and engagement with locally produced literature as a core service provision results indicated that promotion extended mostly to that of local authors with the support of well established publishing houses over self-published regional writers. Previous research has noted the importance of the institution of the Public Library service as a place to celebrate cultural exploration. Central to this vision has been the promotion of and engagement with locally produced or regional fiction/ literature by local writers. For public library services both in America and the UK this has been viewed as a beneficial and positive objective for user communities particularly in terms of building cohesive communities, sustaining a sense of regional identity and literary heritage. However, this study revealed that whilst both services take part in this objective, the Jackson Hinds System and Public Library services in the UK may be misrepresenting communities' needs through the promotion of certain types of regional fiction and local literature. This implied a potentially harmful outcome for the representation of user demographics and for local writers writing of and for their local area.
Supervisor: Birdi, Briony Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: public libraries ; authorship ; American South ; Women's fiction