School of Social and Political Science

Research project type

A New Page? Libraries, Austerity and the Shifting Boundaries of Civil Society



A New Page? Libraries, Austerity and the Shifting Boundaries of Civil Society is a Leverhulme Trust project led by Dr Emma Davidson.

Project focus

This project focuses on public libraries and the things they do in, and for, the neighbourhoods in which they are based.

Using a series of Scottish case studies, the study will look at the ways public libraries fit into the everyday social life of a neighbourhood and how social, economic and technological change has shaped this.

Although the study will look generally at public libraries, it will give focus to groups who are less able, excluded or disenfranchised, from local processes of participation and for whom the library might offer a source of ‘community’ or inclusion: teenagers, homeless people and young parents.

More broadly, the study will use the case of the public library to explore more broadly how civic engagement occurs at a local level and how civil society organisations are managing their identity during austerity.

Findings and project outputs are published on the project website.


May 2017 - March 2021



'A new page? The public library in austerity'Social Policy Review: Analysis and Debate in Social Policy. Rees, J., Pomati, M. & Heins, E. (eds.). Policy Press, Vol. 32

Davidson, E. (2019) ‘Continuity and change: the voices of Scottish librarians’, Scottish Affairs, Vol. 28.4. 

‘I’ve seen firsthand what we lose if we don’t invest in libraries’, Big Issue

Further information

Further information


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