Public libraries and the social web: a review and analysis of the existing literature

Namjoo Choi, Lindsey M. Harper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to update Carlsson (2015), which examined the research on public libraries and the social web published from 2006 to 2012, and it also intends to go beyond Carlsson (2015) by including six additional variables. Design/methodology/approach: Literature searches were performed against Web of Science Core Collection and EBSCOhost databases. By adapting Carlsson’s (2015) three level key phrase searches, which were then complemented by chain searching, a total of 60 articles were identified and analyzed. Findings: In comparison to Carlsson (2015), this study shows that the recent research, published between 2012 and 2018, leans toward a more general acceptance of the social web’s usage to improve the services provided by public libraries; that the public library is rarely premised to be in a state of crisis; and that the social web is mostly perceived as having a complementary relationship with librarianship and library services. The findings from analyzing the six additional variables are also presented. Research limitations/implications: The findings from this study provide LIS professionals a greater understanding of where the research stands on the topic at present, and this study also identifies gaps in the literature to offer insight into the areas where future research can be directed. Originality/value: Given the continued popularity of social web usage among public libraries, this study examines the literature published on the social web in the public library context between 2012 and 2018 and offers implications and future research suggestions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-211
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Documentation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Public libraries
  • Social media
  • Social web

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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