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The Identity of the Contemporary Public Library

 | 
Margarita Pérez Pulido
, 
Maurizio Vivarelli

3. Complexity Challenges

A Plural Identity for the Public Library

Giovanni Di Domenico
Traduction de Jennifer Cooke

Texte intégral

  • 1  See G. Di Domenico, Conoscenza, cittadinanza e sviluppo: appunti sulla biblioteca pubblica come se (...)
  • 2  See Sara Chiessi, Il welfare è morto viva il welfare!: biblioteche pubbliche tra welfare e valore (...)
  • 3  I refer to Antonella Agnoli, La biblioteca che vorrei: spazi, creatività, partecipazione, Milano, (...)

1I here propose some considerations elicited by the debate on public libraries, which has ignited in the past two years on the pages of «AIB studi». I had opened the debate myself with an article that tried to outline, or rather sketch out, the contemporary scene for public libraries, regarded as places with different purposes and potential: in a nutshell, places of social transmission of competences, shared knowledge, where intelligence, opportunities, relationships and well-being take shape1. The journal then featured other articles, which have remarkably broadened and closely examined the discourse along different lines2. At the same time, a couple of short monographs were published, which are clearly pertinent with the same matter3.

1. Identity: a key-word (to handle with care)

  • 4  On the multipurpose library see A. Galluzzi, Biblioteche per la città: nuove prospettive di un ser (...)
  • 5Z. Bauman, Identity: Conversations with Benedetto Vecchi, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2004, available (...)
  • 6  On the relation between relationship and identity see Pierpaolo Donati, I beni relazionali: che co (...)
  • 7  See Z. Bauman, Intervista sull’identità, p. 28.

2Before moving on to a possible marginal comment, I would like, however, to dwell on the key-word “identity” for a moment. In the paper title I assert/wish for a ‘plural’ identity of the public library. I believe conceiving it is a demand not only imposed by the many purposes of library services in the contemporary world4. It is just that some terms become words common to many disciplinary languages, and this may generate some interpretative shift. Identity is one of these words; community is another one. They are frequently used in library studies to indicate all the elements making up a library (hence we refer to an institutional, social, cultural etc. identity of the library) within a given context, defined by human, social, environmental, professional and so forth relationships. On the other hand, identity and community have been for a long time other sociological categories, and one of the most influential sociologist, such as Zygmunt Bauman, actually recalling Siegfried Kracauer, has taught us to handle the connection that holds them together with care, showing us that there are two kinds of community: the lasting ones, like life and destiny, and the ones kept together by principles and ideas. According to Bauman, the issue of identity presents itself only with the latter: «It is because there are many such ideas and principles around which ‘communities of believers’ grow that one has to compare, to make choices, to make them repeatedly, to revise choices already made on other another occasion, to try to reconcile contradictory and often incompatible demands...»5. This is to say that identities and the sense of belonging to a group are not cast in stone, but they can be negotiated, revoked, determined by the options that one takes. This goes for individuals as well as for social groups, and I would say it also applies to organisations. The identity of the local library, facing a community which tends to break up and constantly reshape its own system of beliefs, opinions and positions, cannot but be each time ‘acted’ and pervaded by these forms and by the answers the library itself provides. It will be a provisional, negotiable, modifiable identity. It will be an identity to be created rather than inherited. In other words, it will be a plural identity resulting from many ongoing relationships as well as from historically established facts6. After all, as Bauman also argues, it is indeed the rigid and closed identities which are the most exposed to the threat of crisis and extinction7.

  • 8  See S. Chiessi, Il welfare è morto viva il welfare!, p. 276.
  • 9  See M. Vivarelli, Specie di spazi, p. 196.

3In her paper, Sara Chiessi aptly remarked the identity crisis of libraries, actually attributing it to the introduction of digital and web technologies and to the widespread use of mobile devices to access information, such phenomena which have stripped libraries of one of their traditional purposes, the informational one8. We may here find an identity element – the last three decades have especially focused on and which still is quite popular – that in contemporary complexity, in the «dance of relationships» that Gregory Bateson captured and Vivarelli recalled9, tends to fade, disconnect or diverging from the social perception of the public library.

2. The public library as a social laboratory

  • 10  See A. Agnoli, La biblioteca che vorrei, passim.

4An identity component, in the sense of a socially shared build up of identities of the public library, surfaces today in the concept and practice of citizens, social groups and associations taking part in the planning of spaces and services and in the making of activities and events with the libraries and in the libraries. Antonella Agnoli found in citizens’ participation a common ground for the most advanced library experiences in Europe and elsewhere: only with participatory paths involving decision-making processes – she argued – public libraries may really take their roots in the communities they belong to and actually be places of social life, equality, promotion of diffused knowledge, even the most practical one regarding people’s everyday life10.

5Indeed, the afore-mentioned book by Maria Stella Rasetti successfully deals with participation and civic activism, closely analysing individual and collective voluntary work and the role such associations like “Friends of the Library” may or should play.

  • 11  See, especially, S. Chiessi, Il welfare è morto viva il welfare!; W. Morgese, Biblioteconomia soci (...)
  • 12  See R. Bats, Biblioteche, crisi e partecipazione.
  • 13  See Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, (...)
  • 14  W. Morgese, Biblioteconomia sociale?, p. 302.
  • 15  See the address <http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/index_it.htm>.
  • 16The Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development, <http://www.lyondeclaration.org/>.

6The potential evolution of the public library into a creative laboratory and a work space for the community and each single citizen is a topic referred to in the debate on «AIB studi»11. Whereas Raphaëlle Bats, taking the stock of the current social structure in French public libraries and media libraries, offers us an overview and a reflection on the participatory projects started in the last years, where the laboratory aspect and the experiences of civic self-management are in the foreground. The author professes to be convinced that participation is a progressive, democratic answer to social change, and a revolutionary one at that: the best answer public libraries can give to the social, political, economical expression and destruction the crisis has brought on12. To some extent, I ask myself if a possible extension of this participatory and library-makerspace practices cannot profitably cross the collaborative commons phenomenology or that of collaborative, social and sustainable production of services based on common goods and free access to web resources, which is what some authors – with different approaches – have written about, like Benkler, Bauwens, Rifkin and others13. It might be useful to verify if we find any validation of this, and if there any cultural, environmental and operative premises for the public library to persuasively succeed in becoming one of those social and digital spaces wherein we create and share original ideas and experiences of production of goods and services for communities, cities and so-called economy of proximity. Meanwhile, Waldemaro Morgese hopes that libraries may «diventare incubatori di idee da sperimentare successivamente sul territorio: veri e propri spin-off su questioni di interesse per la vita (e il benessere) delle popolazioni, biblioteche che ben possono ausiliare lo start-up di prototipi di utilità sociale» [“become incubator of ideas to later test on the territory: actual spin-offs on matters of interest to people’s life (and well-being), libraries which can considerably help start up prototypes of social unity”]14. It is a complex, rather ambitious goal but which can also contribute to repositioning public libraries within the wider consideration increasingly given to culture as a motor of innovation and social and economical growth, on the one hand, and of social inclusion, on the other. After all, in the background we have both Europe 2020 strategy guidelines for an intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth15, and, closer to home, Lyon Declaration of August 201416, which not only emphasises the reference to information and knowledge as pillars of a lasting development, but it upholds communities participating to the qualitative creation of information and data for a more complete and transparent allocation of resources. The document recognises libraries, archives and museums mainly as mediators and guarantees to the access to informational and cultural heritage, but it does not overlook the potential these institutes express towards the education to the informed use of resources and towards the creation of places where people can debate and participate to social life and to the decision-making processes concerning the public sphere.

7The library can undoubtedly posit itself as an open laboratory and can in this way enrich its identity. In this laboratory/library we may see several phases of one single participatory cycle, which may include, in full or in part, different processes:

  • access to data, information, knowledge;
  • developing competences in resource localisation, evaluation and use;
  • creating and sharing new knowledge;
  • comparing cultures, ideas and opinions;
  • integrating separate and diffused knowledge;
  • collective planning and realisation of contents, services and material and immaterial goods that can be socially appreciated.

8Furthermore, the laboratory/library cannot but live in the laboratory/city and in the problems that concern it. The quality of services and public spaces, digital innovation, environmental and social sustainability are at the core of many urban redevelopment projects.

  • 17  I here sum up some considerations outlined in my La biblioteconomia in laboratorio. In 1. Seminari (...)

9Now, the attractive, binding force and the social and inclusive value of library spaces in urban and metropolitan areas has been often and rightfully emphasised. However, it would be important that libraries were able to more often act as partners in the processes and projects aimed at introducing innovation and knowledge for the benefit of cities and local communities. I am convinced that they can concur, with their own characteristics, in creating networks and digital environments for an intelligent development of urban contexts and territories17.

  • 18  G. Solimine, Nuovi appunti sulla interpretazione della biblioteca pubblica, p. 268.
  • 19  See M. Vivarelli, Specie di spazi, passim.

10This topic, however, is critically assessed in the article by Giovanni Solimine, who refers to what we may call the vulgate of smart cities, whose undeniable ideological and rhetorical excesses he strongly criticises: «[…] sembra velleitario - osserva - parlare di smart cities in assenza di un forte impegno sul terreno della information literacy e, più in generale, senza investimenti finalizzati a una riqualificazione della scuola e dell’università e alla creazione di un serio sistema di formazione per gli adulti, che in Italia non c’è mai stato» [“It seems unrealistic – he remarks – to speak of smart cities when there is no commitment in the area of information literacy and, more generally, without any investments aimed at requalifying schools and universities, and at creating a serious learning system for adults, which we have never had in Italy”]18. We cannot but agree with him. I may add that in their limited range of power, libraries should at least take into account the unbreakable bond between information literacy, lifelong learning and citizens participation to projects and decisions affecting their life and social practices. The alternative is to lose those complex relationships Maurizio Vivarelli has called to our attention19, such relationships that are directly or indirectly mediated by references to texts, knowledge, cultures, and that only in this way constitute identities, negotiations of identity and change in identities.

11Public libraries, together with other actors, may fulfill a threefold purpose: help develop diffused competences, relationship networks, inclusive communities; suggest innovative activities and services, oriented to the common good and to improving citizens’ quality of life; favour data and resources integration necessary for the goal of digital cities.

3. Information literacy, lifelong learning and critical thinking: public libraries for digital citizenship

  • 20  See G. Solimine, Senza sapere: il costo dell’ignoranza in Italia, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2014.

12In Solimine’s paper, the discourse on libraries is part of a reflection on education policies and on lifelong learning for young people and adults in our country, a reflection more thoroughly dealt with in his latest, wonderful book20.

  • 21  G. Solimine, Nuovi appunti sulla interpretazione della biblioteca pubblica, p. 269.
  • 22  S. Parise, Appunti per un’agenda delle biblioteche italiane, p. 231.

13With regard to a great wealth of easily accessible contents, Solimine rightfully insists on the importance of competence and critical interpretation not only in study or work, but also in people’s everyday lives. The training purpose and the services for information literacy represent the necessary evolution of that cultural and informational mediation public libraries have built their social identity on: «La biblioteca è un laboratorio nel quale si impara a imparare, si lavora a contatto con i documenti, ci si confronta sui contenuti, si possono condividere esperienze di apprendimento e di crescita individuale con altre persone, accomunate dagli stessi interessi» [“The library is a laboratory where people learn to learn, work on the documents, compare contents, can share experiences of learning and personal growth with others who have the same interests”]21. Parise is on the same wavelength: «Forse bisognerebbe finalmente riconoscere, al di là delle etichette e delle definizioni, che la biblioteca pubblica sta ritornando a essere alla luce del sole (ovvero senza doversene vergognare e senza doversi giustificare) ciò che in fondo è sempre stata: un ambiente di apprendimento le cui forme sono destinate a mutare, le cui dinamiche devono forse essere ripensate radicalmente, ma che rimane palestra di formazione e di aggiornamento, di potenziamento delle competenze individuali e sociali» [“Perhaps we ought to finally recognise, beyond all labels and definitions, that the public library is once more in broad daylight (that is without having to be ashamed of it nor to justify it) what it has always been in essence: a place of learning whose forms are destined to change, whose dynamics should perhaps be radically revisited, but which remains a training ground for the development, improvement and enhancement of individual and social competences”]22.

  • 23  On public policies with regard to learning and education as a factor of opportunities see Thomas P (...)
  • 24  See the address <eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=URISERV%3Ac11090>.

14I think the road ahead is still long and it is a road we should take together with schools, especially with those that want to aim at a hands-on teaching method, oriented to problem solving, supported by digital technologies and resources, and their informed use. The cooperation between public libraries, school libraries and schools could in this field produce some outstanding results from the point of view of the transmission/acquisition of key competences for the society of learning and for digital citizenship, and ultimately from the point of view of the redistribution of learning and social opportunities23. Information literacy and lifelong learning are different concepts but closely related. The key competences for lifelong learning for young people and adults, established by 2006 European Recommendation (communication in the mother tongue; communication in foreign languages; mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology; digital competence; learning to learn; social and civic competences; sense of initiative and entrepreneurship; cultural awareness and expression)24, I do not believe can all properly develop without the training and planning input of libraries providing basic services to access information and knowledge.

  • 25  See especially, in the hefty literature on the subject, Robert H. Ennis, The Nature of Critical Th (...)
  • 26  See Marino Sinibaldi, Un millimetro in là: intervista sulla cultura, a cura di Giorgio Zanchini, R (...)
  • 27  As an example, think of the outstanding fortune of ‘conspiracy theories’ online and of its often o (...)
  • 28  Recently, Lorenzo Baldacchini has very effectively countered with the idea of the library as a pla (...)

15A third element to be considered, along with information literacy and lifelong learning, is the «critical thinking», in other words the development of intellectual skills to assess sources and information reliability; to judge the soundness and quality of texts and discourses; to be free from prejudice and stereotypes; to be able to argue correctly25. Exercising critical thinking in human relationships, for instance when using social media, is one of the principal incentives to individual and collective participation and growth. It is useless to discover here the great participatory and democratic potential of networks. The flip side of the coin lies in the contradictions of the Web, especially in its “social” dimension, where forms and instances of new social intelligence dwell together with ‘poor’ relationships and communication exchanges lacking in contents and empathy: some have referred to the digital world as an ecosystem (not a medium, like TV or the press, but an actual ecosystem), wherein to patiently input elements of quality, awareness and articulate thinking26, a hard task, that involves culture, research and learning venues and institutes: university, school, libraries. The continuous exchange of information flows does not create knowledge by itself, or rather it creates incomplete, vague, dull, sometimes wrong information27. Solimine is right: we need education systems that help young people, citizens surf the web in a more informed and critical way. We should all commit to this, including public libraries28.

  • 29  S. Rodotà, Il mondo nella rete: quali i diritti quali i vincoli, Roma-Bari, Laterza; Roma, la Repu (...)
  • 30  Ivi, p. 17.
  • 31  Ibidem.

16By the way, exercising critical thinking is a fundamental component of digital citizenship, especially if we welcome Stefano Rodotà’s suggestion, to whom «il diritto di accesso a Internet» [“the right to Internet access”] must be «inteso non solo come diritto a essere tecnicamente connessi alla rete, bensì come espressione di un diverso modo d’essere della persona nel mondo, dunque come effetto di una nuova distribuzione del potere sociale» [“intended not only as the right to be technically connected to the web, but also as the expression of a different way for the person to be in the world, hence as the effect of a new distribution of social power”]29. According to Rodotà, digital citizenship is nothing but the contemporary ideas of citizenship, since it dynamically combines the bulk of rights citizenship itself is based on. And citizenship is the «precondizione della stessa democrazia» [“precondition to democracy itself”]30. Hence «il principio di neutralità della rete e la considerazione della conoscenza in rete come bene comune» [“the principle of net neutrality and the consideration of knowledge on the net as a common good”]31, that public responsibility must absolutely guarantee.

17Citizenship and knowledge as a common good are matters which concern also public libraries, their identity and responsibility. If knowledge is a common immaterial and relational good, the purpose of a library is to guarantee, on the one hand, the open and unlimited access to the resources of knowledge itself and, on the other, to create and share physical and digital places for the community. This way, the library social identity may profitably take in the dimension of these new citizenship rights.

4. Libraries and consensus

  • 32  L. Crocetti, Le biblioteche di Luigi Crocetti: saggi, recensioni, paperoles (1963-2007), a cura di (...)
  • 33  Ivi, p. 73-79.
  • 34  Ivi, p. 76.

18Recently, the AIB has published a collection of writings by Luigi Crocetti, one of the greatest librarians in the second half of the 20th century32. One of these papers, presented at 1996 AIB Conference and appeared in a first edition in 1998, is called I cittadini e le biblioteche33. It is a paper of remarkable substance, with a far-sighted vision on libraries as a place to compare documents and information, a comparison guided by the method: «Il metodo della biblioteca è il metodo del controllo e delle garanzie. Il metodo che sa di dover inquadrare ciascun documento nella sua cornice» [“the library method is the method of control and guarantees. The method which knows that it has to put each document in its own framework”]34. Libraries allow to establish the value of information and put it into context, since they operate within those «addensamenti storici» [“historic settlements”] that cities are. For the same reason, they very much need to identify with the collective power, to mobilise citizens.

  • 35  S. Parise, Appunti per un’agenda delle biblioteche italiane, p. 229.

19After almost two decades, Crocetti’s library functional and social dynamics still hold all their charm and meaning. Namely, especially in a time of crisis and its effects, that strategy of civic mobilisation so strongly invoked, and later never really pursued, is still very relevant. And today Parise rightly says: «L’assenza di consenso da parte dei cittadini è certamente una variabile dipendente dell’utilità prodotta dalla biblioteca nei loro confronti: laddove essa è stata scarsa non è stato possibile creare un senso di appartenenza, di fidelizzazione, né consolidare nell’immaginario della comunità l’idea che la biblioteca - con il suo complesso di valori - rappresenti un elemento essenziale dell’identità collettiva» [“the lack of consensus on the citizens’ part certainly is a variable depending on how useful a library is to them: when it was poor it was not possible to create a sense of belonging, loyalty, nor strengthen in the community’s consciousness the idea that the library – with all its values – is an essential element of collective identity”]35.

  • 36  On the community-led approach to planning and co-producing library services see the excellent John (...)
  • 37  S. Parise, Appunti per un’agenda delle biblioteche italiane, p. 227.
  • 38  Ivi., p. 229.

20Today, notwithstanding all the limits and obligations we know, public libraries can commit to what can be defined as «azioni resilienti» [“resilient actions”], a grassroots response to this crisis, better entrenched in the territories and communities they belong to, giving to the communities themselves the power of to plan, decide and take initiative36, tenaciously seeking collaboration with other subjects, broadening the range of citizenship relationships. I well know that it is not enough and that, as Parise emphasises, «non può esistere un’agenda di settore senza il coinvolgimento dei vari livelli istituzionali che concorrono (o dovrebbero concorrere) a determinare le politiche bibliotecarie a livello nazionale e locale […]» [“there can be no sector agenda without involving all the different institutional levels, which concur (or should concur) in determining library policies on a national and local level”]37, but I am just as sure that we are unlikely to witness the creation or revitalisation of a real direction and governance policy plan (be it a national or local one) for Italian public libraries, if they are not able to express their unique, and partly unknown, social relevance, and on this gather more visibility, thus fostering a better «reputazione» [“reputation”]38,benefiting from a wider consensus amongst citizens.

5. Welfare is dead. Or perhaps not

  • 39  This subject is among the matters analysed by A. Galluzzi for her Libraries and Public Perception: (...)
  • 40  W. Morgese, Biblioteconomia sociale?, passim.

21In the debate on «AIB studi» there was no shortage of references to the relation of public libraries with welfare39. Morgese was perhaps the most straightforward in claiming, even for the future, a specific role in local social policies for libraries and «eco-bibliotecari» [“eco-librarians”]40.

  • 41  S. Chiessi, Il welfare è morto viva il welfare!, p. 282-283.

22Most of the reservations came, on the other hand, from Sara Chiessi, according to whom referring to welfare, as far as public libraries are concerned, may indeed reveal interesting perspectives, but is ultimately questionable and counterproductive. Why questionable? Because «il welfare non si fa dal basso, ma è composto di interventi statali di sostegno al lavoro, alla disoccupazione, agli anziani e ai deboli in generale. È fatto di un sistema sanitario nazionale […] e di un sistema pensionistico equo e sostenibile» [“welfare cannot be made from grassroots solutions, but rather from state intervention supporting jobs, unemployment, the elderly and the weak in general. It consists in a national health service [...] And a fair and sustainable pension system”]41, nothing like the small activities taking place in the library. Why counterproductive? Because welfare is declining, and so one better not look for shelter under its roof. On the contrary, since the period of cuts is persisting, libraries should rather find elsewhere the economical endorsement they need.

  • 42  See, for instance, Chiara Saraceno, Il welfare, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2013.
  • 43  See A. Galluzzi, E ora facciamo i conti con la realtà.

23The first objection seems to stem from an interpretation of welfare as a mere system of social protection, which is totally legitimate. However, there are other approaches, based on a different idea of citizenship and more prone to seeing welfare as a set of ‘universal’ social rights, including the right to education, the author also mentions in another point of her text42. Education policies are by all means social policies, which indeed result in citizenship services. Then, the problem lies perhaps once more in recognising and emphasising the educational role of public libraries. As often Giovanni Solimine underlines, it is a matter of national relevance, starting from the lack in our country of a policy for libraries and a widespread and solid infrastructural network of basic library services. And the data provided by Cepell (Centro per il libro e la lettura, <https://www.cepell.it/​it/​>), shrewdly analysed by Anna Galluzzi, are proof of that43.

  • 44  In E ora facciamo i conti con la realtà, p. 293-294, Anna Galluzzi mentions, in a lucid as well as (...)
  • 45  See S. Boeri, La cultura è un capitale sociale da valorizzare, «L’Huffington Post», 7 October 2014 (...)
  • 46  See Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, New York, Sim (...)

24Moreover, locally based social policy plans define a local – no longer only national – area of welfare, in which regional and council administrators intervene with choices of direction and governance in order to meet the needs and service demands of a given community. On such a level at least three games are at play: contrasting linear cuts, placing library networks within the priorities of the deciders and the local communities44, creating partnerships with other institutes and social actors. They are difficult yet open games, and one wonders what power of attraction and persuasion libraries in social networks might hold or gain, once their bond with these processes is cut loose. These are important questions, especially if we want to tackle the issue of poor resources by broadening libraries scope, planning and partnerships, involving other culture producers, directing towards library activities significant amounts of that widespread social and cultural capital Stefano Boeri wrote about45. Not coincidentally, Boeri sagaciously relied on the well-known image of Putnam’s social capital/bridge, which can be referred to an open, broad idea of identity, too46.

  • 47  This awareness does fall short even in the United States. See Paul T. Jaeger [et al.], Public Libr (...)

25I may add another remark. The welfare crisis (which is blatant, although it has a political-ideological matrix no less than an economical one) does not entail the inescapable doom of its end, rather the one of it being rethought and revived. The twentieth century is well behind us, but the issues concerning rights, citizenship, reduction of inequalities, the workings of wealth redistribution etc. are still all on the table. And they are not issues unrelated to the identity, mission and purpose of public libraries in these dramatic years47.

6. For a social librarianship

26Some of the voices in the debate «AIB studi» promoted also touch on relevant topics from the theoretical and methodological point of view, thus affecting the very disciplinary status of library science.

  • 48  See P. Traniello, Biblioteche e società, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2005.

27In the afore-mentioned Specie di spazi, Maurizio Vivarelli takes the stock of the interpretations of public libraries the Italian scientific and professional community has produced so far, starting from Paolo Traniello’s pivotal Biblioteche e società48. Vivarelli provides us with a very accurate excursus, stretching out to the forefront of international library studies. His opinion is that there is a great variety of differing positions, which is paralleled by a rift between these disciplinary cultures (between their normative models) and the professional practices and, above all, the use of libraries. Hence the need for a holistic interpretative approach, which suspends all judgement on models in a Husserlian fashion and starts from the bottom, i.e. from objectively observing the phenomena and connections between phenomena taking place within the physical and conceptual space of the library. It is a perspective I find very stimulating, for how it redraws the method and use profile of quantitative and qualitative examination criteria, also resorting to observed evidence techniques we are so little used to. And it is a research which can shed some light on relational and interpretative factors, even very important ones, which have been escaped traditional librarian analysis.

  • 49  See G. Di Domenico, Biblioteche, utenti e non utenti: contenuti e gestione di un progetto valutati (...)

28Therefore, I do not believe these reasoning and planning lines to be far off from the ones which have urged some (Faggiolani, Galluzzi, Solimine, myself) to rediscover and repurpose a social profile of library science49, which comes from afar, at least from the studies by Jesse Shera (let us not forget Peter Karstedt’s equally remote sociological contribution to the study of libraries).

  • 50  W. Morgese, Biblioteconomia sociale?; G. Solimine, Nuovi appunti sulla interpretazione della bibli (...)

29On «AIB studi», Morgese and Solimine focused on this topic50. The former, outlining key aspects, areas of interest, professional implications; the latter, retracing some premises already identified with Chiara Faggiolani: for instance, the sensibility to some relational aspects of library attendance and use; the attention for their impact on people’s well-being and quality of life; the need to use both qualitative and quantitative methodologies in choice criteria and evaluation processes, and, furthermore, the necessary adjustment of the librarian’s professional baggage to these solicitations.

  • 51  Cf., on this matter, the recent article by C. Faggiolani – A. Galluzzi, L’identità percepita delle (...)

30The work we are carrying out, from the point of view of both elaboration and testing on the field, I believe could yield good results. Sure, in order to lay solid foundations for a new social library science, we will need to update the map of its boundaries, its objects and disciplinary methods51; we will need to better frame the interdisciplinary relations (especially with social sciences); we will need, most of all, to have a serious critical mass of contextualised feedback on the social impact of public libraries. There is much to do, but the path is already traced.

Notes

1  See G. Di Domenico, Conoscenza, cittadinanza e sviluppo: appunti sulla biblioteca pubblica come servizio sociale, «AIB studi», 53, 2013, 1, p. 13-25. DOI: 10.2426/aibstudi-8875.

2  See Sara Chiessi, Il welfare è morto viva il welfare!: biblioteche pubbliche tra welfare e valore sociale, «AIB studi», 53, 2013, 3, p. 273-284. DOI: 10.2426/aibstudi-9146; Anna Galluzzi, E ora facciamo i conti con la realtà, «AIB studi», 53, 2013, 3, p. 285-296. DOI: 10.2426/aibstudi-9037; Waldemaro Morgese, Biblioteconomia sociale?: certo, per contribuire al nuovo welfare, «AIB studi», 53, 2013, 3, p. 297-305. DOI: 10.2426/aibstudi-9145; Giovanni Solimine, Nuovi appunti sulla interpretazione della biblioteca pubblica, «AIB studi», 53, 2013, 3, p. 261-271. DOI: 10.2426/aibstudi-9132; Maurizio Vivarelli, Specie di spazi: alcune riflessioni su osservazione e interpretazione della biblioteca pubblica contemporanea, «AIB studi», 54, 2014, 2-3, p. 181-199. DOI: 10.2426/aibstudi-10134; Raphaëlle Bats, Biblioteche, crisi e partecipazione, «AIB studi», 55, 2015, 1, p. 59-70. DOI: 10.2426/aibstudi-11003; Stefano Parise, Appunti per un’agenda delle biblioteche italiane, «AIB studi», 55, 2015, 2, p. 227-234. DOI: 10.2426/aibstudi-11171.

3  I refer to Antonella Agnoli, La biblioteca che vorrei: spazi, creatività, partecipazione, Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, 2014 and to Maria Stella Rasetti, La biblioteca è anche tua!: volontariato culturale e cittadinanza attiva, Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, 2014.

4  On the multipurpose library see A. Galluzzi, Biblioteche per la città: nuove prospettive di un servizio pubblico, Roma, Carocci, 2009.

5Z. Bauman, Identity: Conversations with Benedetto Vecchi, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2004, available on Google Books.

6  On the relation between relationship and identity see Pierpaolo Donati, I beni relazionali: che cosa sono e quali effetti producono, Torino, Bollati Boringhieri, 2011; Simone D’Alessandro, L’identità della differenza: ri-pensare la “Relazione” nei sistemi sociali, Milano, Franco Angeli, 2014.

7  See Z. Bauman, Intervista sull’identità, p. 28.

8  See S. Chiessi, Il welfare è morto viva il welfare!, p. 276.

9  See M. Vivarelli, Specie di spazi, p. 196.

10  See A. Agnoli, La biblioteca che vorrei, passim.

11  See, especially, S. Chiessi, Il welfare è morto viva il welfare!; W. Morgese, Biblioteconomia sociale?; S. Parise, Appunti per un’agenda delle biblioteche italiane.

12  See R. Bats, Biblioteche, crisi e partecipazione.

13  See Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, New Haven – London, Yale University Press, 2006; Vasilis Kostakis - Michel Bauwens, Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy, Basingstoke; New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014; Jeremy Rifkin, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: the Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

14  W. Morgese, Biblioteconomia sociale?, p. 302.

15  See the address <http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/index_it.htm>.

16The Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development, <http://www.lyondeclaration.org/>.

17  I here sum up some considerations outlined in my La biblioteconomia in laboratorio. In 1. Seminario nazionale di biblioteconomia: didattica e ricerca nell’università italiana e confronti internazionali (Roma, 30-31 maggio 2013), a cura di Alberto Petrucciani e Giovanni Solimine, materiali e contributi a cura di Gianfranco Crupi, Milano, Ledizioni, 2013, p. 92.

18  G. Solimine, Nuovi appunti sulla interpretazione della biblioteca pubblica, p. 268.

19  See M. Vivarelli, Specie di spazi, passim.

20  See G. Solimine, Senza sapere: il costo dell’ignoranza in Italia, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2014.

21  G. Solimine, Nuovi appunti sulla interpretazione della biblioteca pubblica, p. 269.

22  S. Parise, Appunti per un’agenda delle biblioteche italiane, p. 231.

23  On public policies with regard to learning and education as a factor of opportunities see Thomas Piketty, L’économie des inégalités, Paris, La Découverte, 2015, p. 73-80.

24  See the address <eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=URISERV%3Ac11090>.

25  See especially, in the hefty literature on the subject, Robert H. Ennis, The Nature of Critical Thinking: an Outline of Critical Thinking Dispositions and Abilities, May 2011, <http://faculty.education.illinois.edu/rhennis/documents/TheNatureofCriticalThinking_51711_000.pdf>. Of great interest, even if mainly devoted to the teaching of logics at school, is the interview by Armando Massarenti to Marta Nussbaum, published under the title Maestra del nostro tempo in the Sunday issue of «Il Sole 24 ore», 25 gennaio 2015, p. 25.

26  See Marino Sinibaldi, Un millimetro in là: intervista sulla cultura, a cura di Giorgio Zanchini, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2014, esp. p. 96.

27  As an example, think of the outstanding fortune of ‘conspiracy theories’ online and of its often outlandish stories.

28  Recently, Lorenzo Baldacchini has very effectively countered with the idea of the library as a place of emancipation and awareness to the more careless, comforting and sometimes opportunistic positions and practices of the social library: see his Siamo scimmie: possiamo leggere: riflessioni sul ruolo della biblioteca, «AIB studi», 55, 2015, 1, p. 7-14, esp. p.14. DOI: 10.2426/aibstudi-10965. Baldacchini strongly rejects any levelling out to the charitable role of libraries, aimed at substituting the purposes of other kinds of service.

29  S. Rodotà, Il mondo nella rete: quali i diritti quali i vincoli, Roma-Bari, Laterza; Roma, la Repubblica, 2014, p. 13. Also insisting on these values are the New Clues by Doc Searls and David Weinberger, issued in January 2015, sixteen years after the Cluetrain Manifesto. See at <http://newclues.cluetrain.com/>.

30  Ivi, p. 17.

31  Ibidem.

32  L. Crocetti, Le biblioteche di Luigi Crocetti: saggi, recensioni, paperoles (1963-2007), a cura di Laura Desideri e Alberto Petrucciani, presentazione di Stefano Parise, Roma, Associazione italiana biblioteche, 2014.

33  Ivi, p. 73-79.

34  Ivi, p. 76.

35  S. Parise, Appunti per un’agenda delle biblioteche italiane, p. 229.

36  On the community-led approach to planning and co-producing library services see the excellent John Pateman - Ken Williment, Developing Community-Led Public Libraries: Evidence from the UK and Canada, Farnham (UK); Burlington (VT), Ashgate, 2013.

37  S. Parise, Appunti per un’agenda delle biblioteche italiane, p. 227.

38  Ivi., p. 229.

39  This subject is among the matters analysed by A. Galluzzi for her Libraries and Public Perception: A Comparative Analysis of the European Press, Oxford, Chandos, 2014 (see, especially, p. 24-25 and 104-112). The definition of welfare suggested in the monograph is to be agreed with: «The welfare state is a socio-economic and political system based upon the principle of substantial equality and aimed at limiting social disparities. It is intended to provide services and vouch for those rights considered essential for an adequate standard of living, from healthcare to public education, from access to cultural resources to support for the unemployed […] The aim of the welfare state is to safeguard personal freedom and self-determination, by relieving citizens from material dependence» (p. 107). The author basically lists libraries amongst the merit goods, which in the periods of social policies recession are more than others exposed to instability, crisis of consensus and of political investment.

40  W. Morgese, Biblioteconomia sociale?, passim.

41  S. Chiessi, Il welfare è morto viva il welfare!, p. 282-283.

42  See, for instance, Chiara Saraceno, Il welfare, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2013.

43  See A. Galluzzi, E ora facciamo i conti con la realtà.

44  In E ora facciamo i conti con la realtà, p. 293-294, Anna Galluzzi mentions, in a lucid as well as disillusioned way, a «circolo vizioso che prima fa apparire irrilevanti le biblioteche pubbliche agli occhi della politica, quindi determina la riduzione degli investimenti e delle politiche di sviluppo, infine porta le biblioteche (anche quelle più attive) verso la mera sopravvivenza, che a sua volta rende ancora più difficoltosa la loro possibilità di accreditarsi agli occhi dei cittadini» [“vicious circle that makes public libraries seem irrelevant in the eyes of politics at first, and that then causes the reduction in development policies investments, finally leading libraries (even the most active ones) to mere survival, which in its turn makes their chance to gain some credit in the eyes of citizens even more difficult”].

45  See S. Boeri, La cultura è un capitale sociale da valorizzare, «L’Huffington Post», 7 October 2014, <http://www.huffingtonpost.it/stefano-boeri/cultura-capitale-sociale-valorizzare_b_5945160.html>.

46  See Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, New York, Simon and Schuster, 2000, p. 22-23: «Of all the dimensions along which forms of social capital vary, perhaps the most important is the distinction between bridging (or inclusive) and bonding (or exclusive) […] Bonding social capital is good for undergirding specific reciprocity and mobilizing solidarity […] Bridging networks, by contrast, are better for linkage to external assets and information diffusion […] Moreover, bridging social capital can generate broader identities and reciprocity, whereas bonding social capital bolsters our narrower selves».

47  This awareness does fall short even in the United States. See Paul T. Jaeger [et al.], Public Libraries, Public Policies, and Political Processes: Serving and Transforming Communities in Times of Economic and Political Constraint. Lanham [etc.], Rowman & Littlefield, 2014, p. 75: «In striking contrast to the narratives of neoliberal economics and neoconservative governance, public libraries are increasingly central to the lives of patrons without access to or the ability to use the Internet-enabled technologies necessary to participate in contemporary education, employment, and government».

48  See P. Traniello, Biblioteche e società, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2005.

49  See G. Di Domenico, Biblioteche, utenti e non utenti: contenuti e gestione di un progetto valutativo, in: L’impatto delle biblioteche pubbliche: obiettivi, modelli e risultati di un progetto valutativo, a cura di G. Di Domenico, Roma, Associazione italiana biblioteche, 2012, p. 19-60; Chiara Faggiolani, La ricerca qualitativa per le biblioteche: verso la biblioteconomia sociale, Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, 2012; C. Faggiolani - G. Solimine, Biblioteche moltiplicatrici di welfare, «Biblioteche oggi», 31, 2013, 3, p. 15-19.

50  W. Morgese, Biblioteconomia sociale?; G. Solimine, Nuovi appunti sulla interpretazione della biblioteca pubblica.

51  Cf., on this matter, the recent article by C. Faggiolani – A. Galluzzi, L’identità percepita delle biblioteche: la biblioteconomia sociale e i suoi presupposti, «Bibliotime», 18, 2015, 1, <http://www.aib.it/aib/sezioni/emr/bibtime/num-xviii-1/galluzzi.htm>.

Auteur

Dipartimento di Scienze del patrimonio culturale, Università degli studi di Salerno, via Ponte don Melillo 3, 84084 Fisciano. Email address gididomenico[at]unisa.it