‘What we should strive for is Britishness’: An attitudinal investigation of ethnic diversity and the public library
This paper considers the role of the public library in ameliorating relations between communities, and the appropriateness of a multicultural or assimilationist approach via which to deliver socially inclusive services. Qualitative findings from two inductive studies, each of which focused on different aspects of the capacity of public library staff to deliver culturally inclusive services, are analysed in relation to concepts such as social capital, cultural and ethnic diversity, institutional racism and cultural awareness. The paper focuses on staffing issues and on the provision of the ‘multicultural text’. It is concluded that recruitment strategies are slow to address the homogeneity of the current library workforce, and that a revised approach to recruitment and subsequent training should be made. Furthermore, it is suggested that a community-wide exposure to materials about other ethnic cultures can contribute to the reduction of existing social fragmentation.