Rough Guide to Citizen Engagement in Public Libraries

Barros, F., Kish, I., Moltmann, L. and Silvestre, S., Rough Guide to Citizen Engagement in Public Libraries, Quaglia, A. and Martinho Guimaraes Pires Pereira, A. editor(s), Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2023, ISBN 978-92-76-60599-7, doi:10.2760/957683, JRC132175.


This rough guide is the output of the project ‘Experiments of citizen engagement in public libraries’, run in 2021 by the European Commission’s Competence Centre on Participatory and Deliberative Democracy (CC-DEMOS), led by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), with Public Libraries 2030. This pilot project had two ambitions. First, to support civic experimentations in public spaces or places of recognised or emergent public significance, such as public libraries. We focused on the issues of biodiversity depletion and the making of urban green infrastructures, as this pilot project complemented another ongoing participatory project, BiodiverCities. However, this toolkit also presents other case-studies, focusing on different issues. We were interested in answering the following questions: can public libraries lead, support or host co-creation or deliberative processes through active involvement of their existing communities in participatory exercises? Can public libraries’ infrastructure contribute to the making of more inclusive and effective policies? This rough guide suggests that our short answer to these questions is ‘yes’. This links to another, broader question: what kind of role do we want public libraries and other public spaces have in a democratic society? The shrinking of democracies is to a great extent the result of shrinking democratic spaces (see Hou and Knierbein, 2017)

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