Public libraries: roles in Big Data

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Ming Zhan, Gunilla Widén
Publication year: 2018
Journal: Electronic Library
Volume number: 36
Issue number: 1
Start page: 133
End page: 145
eISSN: 1758-616X



The purpose of this paper is to explore the roles of public libraries in the context of Big Data.


A mixed method approach was used and had two main data collection phases. A survey of public libraries was used to generate an overview of which professional roles connect public libraries with Big Data. Eight roles were identified, namely, educator, marketer, data organiser, data container, advocator, advisor, developer and organisation server. Semi-structured interviews with library directors and managers were then conducted to gain a deeper understanding of these roles and how they connect to the library’s overall functions.


Results of the survey indicated that librarians lack a proper comprehension of and a pragmatic application of Big Data. Their opinions on the eight roles are slightly stronger than neutral. However, they do not demonstrate any strong agreement on these eight roles. In the interviews, the eight roles attained more clear support and are classified into two groups: service-oriented and system-oriented roles.


As an emerging research field, Big Data is not widely discussed in the library context, especially in public libraries. Therefore, this study fills a research gap between public libraries and Big Data. In addition, Big Data in public libraries could be well managed and readily approached by citizens in undertaking such roles, which entails that public libraries will eventually benefit from the Big Data era.


big data

Last updated on 2020-19-01 at 02:38

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