The patron as producer: Libraries, web 2.0, and participatory culture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to offer a theoretical framework for applying Web 2.0 technologies and design principles to the development of participatory cultures within libraries. A participatory culture is one that focusses on facilitating interaction and the creation of content by users rather than the consumption of content created or compiled by experts. Design/methodology/approach – This study is a literature-based theoretical analysis that explores the role of libraries as agents of cultural hegemony and techniques for developing socially responsible library praxis. It combines insights from a variety of discourses includingWestern Marxist theories of hegemony, critical theories of library and information science, professional literature regarding “Library 2.0” service models, and media studies theories of participatory culture. Findings – Libraries do not just organize knowledge; they construct it. Furthermore, these constructions tend to reinforce dominant discourses while marginalizing others. By adopting participatory technologies and design principles, libraries can support greater diversity of expression and create spaces for marginalized discourses. Practical implications – This paper offers suggestions for applying principles of participatory culture to the design of library services such as collection development, cataloging and classification, reference, instruction, and institutional repositories. Originality/value – This paper provides a conceptual framework for understanding and evaluating the significance of Web 2.0 for library and information science by applying theoretical perspectives from other disciplines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)734-758
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Documentation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


  • Libraries
  • Participatory culture
  • Philosophy
  • Social responsibility
  • Web 2.0


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