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Library and Information Science Paper (ID LIS055025)

Introduction of the Concept of Social Inclusion to Public LibraryPolicy in the United Kingdom: Analysis of Libraries for All
No.55, p.25-46
Issue date

Britain’s Blair administration introduced the concept of social exclusion and inclusion to deal with the issue of the social weak. The Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) was established in the government and has developed various policies for tackling the issue. In accordance with this trend, the concept of social inclusion has been introduced to public library policy. The aim of this study is to examine the meaning of social inclusion and the problems faced when implementing such concepts, through an investigation of related policy documents and project reports. I will also analyze how this concept is understood in the public library world, and whether the performance assessment systems and other required mechanisms have been put in place to achieve it. The study draws on Libraries for All with paticular attention to its relationship to the policies of the SEU. Libraries for All is the fundamental document on the social inclusion policies in the public library.

The analysis shows that the policies of the SEU have concentrated on economic issues, while public library policies generally focus on social and cultural ones. In spite of this difference, it appears that the concept of social inclusion could strengthen the argument that public libraries should provide services to the social weak. That is, the introduction of the social inclusion concept to the public library shows that providing library services to the social weak is in tune with the one of the fundamental policies of the Blair administration. However, the mechanism to implement the policy in public libraries is not yet in place under the present performance assessment system. Furthermore, at the present stage, since this policy did not originate from within the library community, it appears that while the concept of social inclusion has been introduced into public library policies, the kinds of services necessary to realize it have not yet been examined thoroughly. The link between the concept and service contents has yet to be forged.

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