The past public library observed: User perceptions and recollections of the twentieth-century British public library recorded in the Mass-observation Archive

Alistair Black

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The Mass-Observation Archive contains a large amount of evidence, stretching back to the 1930s, of the British public's daily lives and its attitudes to local, national, and international issues and events. The archive's data-collection method takes the form of essay-style contributions submitted from anonymous volunteer correspondents who write in response to "directives": requests for commentary on particular subjects that can range from the everyday to the momentous. This article exploits evidence relating to the use of public libraries from two directives issued by the archive: "Regular Pastimes" (1988) and "Public Libraries" (1999). Evidence includes reminiscences from users regarding how libraries changed during the twentieth century and on the part the public library played in their lives: in short, the role of the library in the life of the user over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-455
Number of pages18
JournalLibrary Quarterly
Volume76
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences

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