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"(Re) producing the Nation: A Discourse Analysis of National Libraries." N. Rae. D. McMenemy. Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde. 2015. Download PDF (BibTeX)

Approaching the national library from a critical realist perspective, this research seeks to re- politicise it by exposing the discursive foundations, not only of the national libraries, but also of the nation(s) that they represent. Power therefore becomes an inescapable presence; (nation)state power behind and through the library, and the discursive power of the library through which it can (re)produce the nation and its own role within it.

Discourse is consequently the focus of the research. Three national libraries are examined in the study: the British Library; the National Library of Scotland; and the National Library of Wales. All are located in the UK state, with accompanying Scottish and Welsh sub-state structures; where the British nation is challenged by overlapping and competing Scottish and Welsh nations. This contested national context presents a valuable opportunity for exploring the nationalising power of the national library, and its place within the web of state power.

From the discourse analysis of documents produced by each library, it is concluded that national libraries are indeed mechanisms of state power, in the sense that they are (re)producers of nation, if not also in a more direct manner. A discursive structure is presented through which the libraries construct their (re)presentations; and the power of the national library to (re)produce nation, and its own role as nationaliser of history, culture, and even knowledge itself is revealed. The relevance of context is identifiable in the nuances between the three libraries, but it is the shared context of national libraries in an unquestioned world of nation-states which is inescapable. They share a powerful role in discursively reproducing the nation, and, as such, the national library becomes a participant in, and (re)producer of, established structures of power - national power.