The role of public libraries in delivering local studies services, with a case study of Wiltshire

  • Karen Nashwalder

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


Since Heritage Centres appeared there has been debate about whether public libraries are a suitable repository for local studies materials and services. Current factors affecting public libraries have particular implications for specialist services such as local studies provision and there are questions about whether public libraries are capable of providing the service.
Aims and objectives
The aim of this research was to examine the role of libraries in delivering local studies services. There were four objectives: to assess the current level of provision in public libraries; to assess the skills of library staff in delivering the service; identify training needs; and to seek managers‟ views on the role of public libraries and history centres in delivering local studies services.
A case study approach was adopted in order to closely examine the issues raised in the literature review. Mixed methods were used to gather data. This included a staff survey to measure the first three objectives, and semi-structured interviews to gain the managerial perspective.
The staff survey showed that services were well used and libraries play an important role in service provision. It confirmed the view in the literature that staff are under-confident in delivering local studies services. The survey and interviews confirmed that new methods of training need to be adopted to improve services. Managers agreed that public libraries play an important role in service delivery and that a positive relationship with the History Centre could solve some challenges facing local studies provision.
The research has confirmed that both libraries and history centres have advantages and disadvantages regarding local studies provision. It has also shown that through a close relationship, where there is a clear structure of provision, many challenges facing local studies provision can be overcome to the advantage of both collections and users
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorJennie Hill (Supervisor)

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