Impact of Public Libraries in Small Rural Communities: Challenges to Conducting a Research

Martina Dragija Ivanović


In small rural communities public libraries play a special role. They are often the only information and cultural centres, and one of the rare community meeting places (Vavrek). Therefore, they have to respond to diverse needs of their patrons which vary from homework help to information about weather and new agricultural products to adults. Obviously, public libraries have a great potential in such communities and it is necessary to make their (actual and potential) contributions explicit to local government (i.e. library funders) and the general public.
This paper is based on data and experiences collected in the study of public library impact in two Croatian insular rural communities, Sali (Dugi Otok) and Kolan (Pag). While the central interest of this study was to understand the relationship between the community and the library and to investigate what impact does a public library have on such a small and isolated community, author also tested research models, methods and techniques (Usherwood). Research strategy used in this study was a case study, while the research tools used were document analysis, interviews, focus groups and a survey (triangulation). The study was conducted in 2012 with three large groups of respondents: local residents, decision-makers and library experts.
In this paper the author will discuss research challenges relating to the employed qualitative methods such as changes in research steps, use and interpretation of “unexpected” information (e.g. casual conversation), changes of respondents, research objectivity etc (Gray).

Keywords: rural community, public libraries, impact, qualitative methods, research challenges



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.