Purpose – The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to draw attention to one specific upper-level government policy document in which a discourse of perpetual innovation and customer service is promoted, and the kinds of questions such discursive interventions raise for the future of work in public libraries; and second, to demonstrate the explanatory potential of the concept of immaterial labour for questions relating to emerging labour processes in libraries. The concepts of “prosumer” and Web 2.0 are included as discursive resources of relevance to any discussion of immaterial labour. Design/methodology/approach – This paper presents a critical discourse analysis of a public policy visioning document for public libraries in Ontario, Canada, with reflections on related literatures. Findings – The concept of immaterial labour provides an additional analytic tool suitable for questions of relevance to public librarians and library scholars. Within the government text under review which deals specifically with the future of the public library to 2020, the identity of the public librarian is alarmingly absent. Conversely, the library patron as a producer and consumer is privileged. Research limitations/implications – Failure to attend to the broader policy arena within which the public library resides creates dangerous blind spots for public library professionals, educators and researchers. Practical implications – This paper demonstrates the value of a discourse analysis for uncovering the ideological dimensions of policy documents, while simultaneously modelling the method using the kind of policy text commonly produced in governments around the world. Social implications – This paper shows how failure to attend to the broader policy arena within which the public library resides creates dangerous blind spots for the public library community. Originality/value – This paper contextualizes the immaterial and volunteer labour of the public library user as producer/consumer in the context of the future of the frontline professional and waged librarian.
New Library World – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 14, 2016
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