Public libraries as cultural hubs in disadvantaged communities: developing and fostering cultural competencies and connections

Sarah Summers, Steven Buchanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


A cultural divide has been demonstrated in the United Kingdom, with disadvantaged individuals and communities known to be least likely to participate in cultural activities. Recognizing that low levels of cultural capital can present multiple barriers to cultural participation and that public libraries have an important cultural role in supporting and promoting learning and development, this article examines issues of cultural divide through the theoretical lens of cultural capital.
Through analysis of examples of public library good practice in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States, this article addresses an understudied topic and advances our understanding of the sociocultural role of public libraries in stimulating cultural consumption, participation, and engagement in disadvantaged communities. The article also calls for further empirical research to support and operationalize cultural capital concepts in library practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-302
Number of pages17
JournalLibrary Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2018


  • public libraries
  • community
  • disadvantaged communities
  • cultural participation

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