The need for public libraries to tackle social exclusion and engage in social justice becomes ever more urgent as the gap between rich and poor continues to widen, and the very survival of public libraries in the heart of the community is open to debate. If public libraries are to develop and grow in the future and become relevant to the majority of their local communities, then they need to abandon outmoded concepts of 'excellence' and fully grasp the 'equity' agenda. This book examines the historical background to social exclusion and the strategic context in terms of government and professional policy. The authors propose a compelling manifesto for change and outline practical ways in which public libraries can be transformed into needs-based services.
John Pateman is Head of Libraries, Learning & Inclusion, Lincolnshire County Council, Lincoln, UK. John Vincent is the Networker for "The Network - tackling social exclusion in libraries, museums, archives and galleries".
'Writing at a time when the Public Library Service is under threat of major funding cuts it is heartening to find two authors able to provide a 21st Century justification for extending the role of libraries in our communities. Despite the tough line on traditional library service planning this book is refreshing as it takes a long hard look at our professional engagement with political, social and economic inequality. If the profession is to meet these challenges, Pateman and Vincent should be read by us all and used to prepare an effective case for advocacy to maintain the public service that has the ability to transform lives and improve society.' Biddy Fisher MLib FCLIP, CILIP President 2010 'Created a century and a half ago by the middle classes partly for their own use, the public library has nonetheless from the start professed itself to be the servant of the social whole. However, although over successive generations it has catered well for a traditional auto-didactic working-class clientele, the public library has been less successful in addressing the needs of those at the margins of both society and social opinion. In light of this historical legacy as well as the ongoing diversification of society, Pateman and Vincent’s call to prioritise the social-justice purpose of the public library is not only appropriate but also timely.' Alistair Black, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA '... Pateman and Vincent have produced a well-researched and compelling account which should play an important role in the ongoing debate about the role and contribution of the public library service.' CILIP Update