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Title: An exploration of the essential elements of community engagement in public libraries
Authors: Sung, Hui-Yun
Keywords: Community engagement
Participation
Involvement
Partnership
Community relations
Public libraries
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: © Hui-Yun Sung
Abstract: This research aims to explore and identify essential elements of community engagement in the public sector, including library services. Previous research has highlighted public libraries objectives in undertaking community engagement, in terms of tackling social exclusion, promoting democracy and contributing to social/cultural/human capital. However, it is also apparent that there is a lack of shared vision and strategy for community engagement in public libraries. Furthermore, little systematic research has examined the community engagement process in practice. Hence there is a need for a systematic, comparative and empirical investigation into essential elements of community engagement in public libraries. The study was qualitative, involving three case studies in England. Research methods employed to gather data included semi-structured interviews, direct observation and document analysis. Both the viewpoints of service providers and service users were captured. Essential elements of community engagement were initially identified in case specific contexts. The discussion of the relationships between elements then identified two key underlying variable drivers (i.e. influence of authority and willingness to learn ) that had a fundamental impact on community engagement. Influence of authority was defined as the extent that the initiative was led by the service or the community. Willingness to learn was defined as the extent that the service was willing to embrace a community-driven approach or a library-based approach for implementing community engagement. The empirical investigative results identified the essential elements of community engagement as comprising of: accountability , belonging , commitment , communication , a flexible approach , genuineness , relevance and sustainability . The significance of this research is the identification, based on empirical data, of arguably the essential elements of community engagement in the public library context. However, it is likely that these elements are key to forms of community engagement both within and outside the public sector. Recommendations are made in conclusion for the promotion of genuine community engagement, where the community-driven approach and the organic nature of the community engagement process are seen as being paramount to engagement.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/9277
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Information Science)

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