Change in store? An investigation into the impact of the book superstore environment on use, perceptions and expectations of the public library as a space, place and experience

Helen Cartwright


The book superstore is promoted not just as a place to buy books but also as a community resource in which to read, learn and socialise: traits that have in combination traditionally been the preserve of the public library. This study investigates the impact of the bookstore environment on public library space. The attitudes and behaviours of library and bookstore users were examined through focus group interviews and a self-completed questionnaire. Clear areas of overlap in the functions of the two sites were found, as was evidence of age and income-related splits in use and perception of bookstores and libraries. Results suggest attention should be paid to the beliefs and behaviours of young people and middle-income earners (the groups most noticeably increasing their use of the bookstore) and to the desired balance of education and recreation in the image and nature of the public library.


public library; public library space; bookstore

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ISSN 1756-1086 (Online)