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Two Papers on Libraries and Public Diplomacy

December 19, 2011

Having moved house I’m now taking the bus to work which is allowing me to put a dent into my reading pile. On the other hand I don’t seem to be making that much progress through the blogging pile…

This morning a couple of items that you might have missed on libraries in public diplomacy.

Lincove, D.A. (2011) ‘The British Library of Information in New York: A Tool of British Foreign Policy, 1919-1942’, Libraries & the Cultural Record, 46: 156-184.

The British Library of Information was a bit more active in spreading knowledge of the UK than you might have expected a library to be but was also part of the American community of librarians.  As with the story told in Robert Young’s Marketing Marianne the UK’s activities were constrained by the American’s sensitivity to anything that smacked of ‘propaganda’.  Lincove sees the library as a success but the low key model of national promotion came under pressure as being too passive with the approach of the Second World War.

Maack, M.N. (2001) ‘Books and Libraries as Instruments of Cultural Diplomacy in Francophone Africa during the Cold War’, Libraries and the Cultural Record, 36: 58-86.

This compares the US, UK and French approach to libraries in PD/Cultural relations in Africa.  It looks at the different approaches to developing and stocking libraries and policies on access.  It also tracks the the changing approach to libraries: while France maintained an definition of the library in terms of culture and literature the US backed away from the ‘library’ towards the ‘information centre’  model that  appealed to a narrower section of the population.  Maack notes the decline of the British presence as the British Council reallocated its resources to a post Cold War Eastern Europe.

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