False optimism: Modernity, class, and the public library in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s

Alistair Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the late 1950s, the long-awaited postwar expansion in British public library services got under way. During the 1960s and 1970s, librarians and library planners became strongly optimistic about the public library's "modern" future. In keeping with the principles of egalitarianism and universalism underpinning the welfare state, a radically new philosophy, known as "community librarianship," emerged in the 1970s. Its aim was to encourage the public library to make an irreversible break with its "conservative" past and to become a truly popular institution. However, despite jettisoning a great deal of its Victorian image and embracing much of the modernity of the age, the public library was ultimately unable to live up to the visions of classlessness that library promoters had long cherished.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-213
Number of pages13
JournalLibraries and the Cultural Record
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • History
  • Library and Information Sciences

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