Juha Manninen: public libraries in boxing ring of municipal politics

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In city of Lahti, Finland, the politics decided that branch libraries will be closed down and transformed into library stands that will operate mostly in lobby premises of other civic services, eg. health centers, maternity clinics and senior houses. A public library is of course a place where many communal services can be provided. However, in this model the library is only in position of an additional service, not the main actor. This has been seen as a step to a path where libraries can be closed down easily, without resistance of loud and annoying citizen acts.

Can these kind of libraries – or joint stands – be seen as a tool to maintain at least some library services in cities with economical difficulties or are they just a political trick to get rid of costs when needed?

Library is still strongly tied to a certain place. A branch library creates different practices of everyday life when compared to main library, it’s part of social ecology of its area.

What could the staff of public libraries do to make an influence that libraries as physical spaces wouldn’t extinct in situations like this?

Juha Manninen

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