Public libraries, social capital, and low intensive meeting places
Introduction. This paper presents a research project aiming at eliciting the potential of public libraries in building social capital, and promoting generalized trust in today's multicultural society. Method. Two approaches to research, the societal approach and the institutional approach are identified. The concept of low intensive versus high intensive meeting places is presented. A survey among inhabitants in four different metropolitan communities varying according to demographic characteristics in general, and the percentage of the population with a non-Western background in particular was undertaken. Initial results from a survey on how the public library is taken into use as a meeting place are presented and analysed. Analysis. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the research question. Results. The survey results indicate that the library is a complex meeting place with a range of meetings along a continuum from high intensive to low intensive meetings. Conclusions. The library's potential role as a promoter of social capital by functioning as a low intensive meeting place seems to offer a promising research agenda.
Dokk Holm, Erling