Out of necessity comes unbridled imagination forsurvival: Contributive justice in spanish libraries during economic crisis

José Antonio Merlo-Vega, Clara M. Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The call for this journal issue notes that “social justice in LIS/ services involves achieving action-oriented socially relevant outcomes via information-related work.” There is not a more fitting time and place for such action than in Spain, where the current economic crisis left more than 6 million (27 percent of the population) unemployed as of 2013. It is not just communities that are grappling with the pain of the economic downturn; libraries are also suffering from the crisis as a result of budget cuts due to reduced public funding. This article presents the case of Spanish academic and public libraries that have found solutions to keep themselves open, providing services vital to the economic and sociocultural needs of their communities. This case is an example of contributive justice, as evidenced in the actions taken by Spanish libraries and their communities as well as in the manner in which the research data were collected. Eight libraryrelated actions were found: professional, community, social, political, digital, cultural/heritage, economic, and ontological. Despite economic hardships all around, these Spanish examples reveal the impact of libraries as social justice institutions, the role of librarians as agents of change, and the value of contributive and grassroots efforts when governments fail to provide. Moreover, these contributions to social justice illustrate actions appropriate to a contributive justice framework for libraries, as proposed in this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-328
Number of pages30
JournalLibrary Trends
Volume64
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences

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