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Librarianship and the Arc of Crisis: The Road to Institutionalized Cultural Neoliberalism

John Buschman


Libraries and their relationship to print culture are commonly thought of in warm, familiar terms or conversely with invidious overtones of old-fashioned-ness. Neither of these tells the story of the internal discourse and struggles within them, however. Libraries have been the sites of a working-through of neoliberal ideas down to a very basic level in communal and educational institutions. Throughout this process, the institutions have been guided by a management culture that continually declares a crisis to shape and guide them, and that crisis culture itself has largely responded to an unexamined arc of development that has lead to neoliberalism. This feedback loop—broader economic and social agendas that go unnamed, yet shape and form library institutional leadership and practice—has meaning for print culture. This paper reviews the sources and ideas of my work primarily in two books over the last decade.


neoliberalism; print culture; library management; crisis culture; literacy

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