The political perception of the public library: the Australian view
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The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Section of Library Theory and Research conducted an international project on The Political Perceptions of the Public Library during 2002-4 under the leadership of Professor Bob Usherwood of Sheffield University, UK. The project title is: Public library politics - a transnational evaluative survey of national policy maker's attitudes to, and perceptions, of the role, value and impact of public library services. The project aims to provide information on national and, where appropriate because of local circumstances, local or regional government's attitudes to public libraries. The results of the Australian component of the project are now being collated for the final IFLA report (Smith, 2004). This paper reports on the Australian project by describing the methodology and presenting a summary of the results. Descriptions of the theoretical framework for the study and a detailed literature review will appear in other publications once the international project is concluded. The paper concludes that there is a fear for the future of the public library in Australia and that this fear is primarily tied to funding issues. It is curious that this fear is despite there being political support at the local and state government levels for the public library.
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