Chapter 2

Setting the Context


The primary purpose of this chapter is to set the context from which the book emerged. The historical role of public libraries in alleviating educational and social disadvantage is considered in detail. The chapter discusses how the original ethos of public libraries is still relevant today. Then, poverty figures for Northern Ireland are presented to set the local context. The role of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, which sets strategy for library services in Northern Ireland, is discussed. A profile of Libraries NI is provided, considering their vision, mission and strategic priorities. Following this, library usage in Northern Ireland is outlined, with a specific focus on low levels of library ...

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