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"A Content Analysis of the Public Library and it's Role in National Newspaper." I. Bull. D. McMenemy. Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde. 2015. Download PDF (BibTeX)

It is no secret that the library has an image problem. It is frequently argued that particularly the way in which the media has historically depicted the library, has contributed to the profession's negative image, as a result of which librarians, for centuries, have complaint about the media representation. A significant amount of research exists on the representation of the profession in the media. Previous research however has largely focused on how librarians as opposed to the library itself are represented in the media. No previous academic studies have specifically investigated how the role of the library is represented in the media. Therefore the present study aims to explore and provide an understanding of how the public library and particularly its role are represented in UK national newspapers published between 2000 and 2014.

The researcher analysed 96 articles drawn from four daily national newspapers. The newspaper articles were collected using ́Nexis ́. To analyse the data a mixed method approach was adopted in the form of a quantitative content analysis and a qualitative analysis of the data based on grounded theory techniques.

The study found that 93 of the 96 articles made a reference to at least one aspect of the library's role. It was furthermore discovered that all of the roles of the public library the researcher identified prior to the analysis were reflected in the newspaper articles, pointing towards an understanding on the part of the media of the diverse and changing roles the public library assumes in the 21st century. The library's contribution in relation to the promotion of reading and book lending was thereby the aspect, most frequently mentioned in the newspapers over the fifteen-years sample period. Moreover key themes and patterns identified were the media's tendency when writing about the public library to heavily rely on numbers and statistics usually relating to library closures, book issues, costs or visitor numbers as well as a tendency among some commentators to look back to the library of their childhood, frequently in a very passionate and affectionate manner, the implications of which, it was found, are not always positive for the library.