How do public libraries create social capital? An analysis of interactions between library staff and patrons

Publication year: 2011 Source: Library & Information Science Research, Available online 10 December 2011 Catherine A. Johnson In this qualitative study exploring the content of social interactions between library staff and patrons, interviews were held with 15 library staff members in three neighborhood branch libraries in a large American midwestern city. An analysis of the interviews suggests that public libraries may contribute to social capital through the relationships and interactions that occur between staff and patrons. Some of the ways in which these relationships and interactions may contribute to social capital include: building patrons’ trust in the library and its staff, connecting people to both community and library resources, providing social support for patrons, reducing social isolation, helping patrons gain skills to function in an increasingly online world, and providing a positive place for neighborhood residents to gather.

Publication year: 2011 Source: Library & Information Science Research, Available online 10 December 2011 Catherine A. Johnson In this qualitative study exploring the content of social interactions between library staff and patrons, interviews were held with 15 library staff members in three neighborhood branch libraries in a large American midwestern city. An analysis of the interviews suggests that public libraries may contribute to social capital through the relationships and interactions that occur between staff and patrons. Some of the ways in which these relationships and interactions may contribute to social capital include: building patrons’ trust in the library and its staff, connecting people to both community and library resources, providing social support for patrons, reducing social isolation, helping patrons gain skills to function in an increasingly online world, and providing a positive place for neighborhood residents to gather.

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How do public libraries create social capital? An analysis of interactions between library staff and patrons