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Inquiry as Ideology: The Politics of the Public Library Inquiry

Douglas Raber
Libraries & Culture
Vol. 29, No. 1, The Public Library Inquiry: Reminiscences, Reflections, and Research (Winter, 1994), pp. 49-60
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25542620
Page Count: 12
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Inquiry as Ideology: The Politics of the Public Library Inquiry
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Abstract

After tracing the evolution of the proposal that led to the Public Library Inquiry, this paper focuses on the ways that the set of goals and principles, which Robert Leigh referred to as the "Library Faith," provided a framework against which the accomplishments of the American public library were evaluated by the research team. Recommendations coming out of the Inquiry studies that attempted to place the library within the broader context of American politics, culture, and communications are then discussed. The Inquiry found the "Library Faith" to be in need of revision if it was to provide the public library with an opportunity to reinvent itself and become a dynamic institution that could adapt to change while remaining true to its democratic purpose. By emphasizing the importance of the library's role in public communications, the Inquiry offered the field a new basis for establishing its political legitimacy.

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