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Title:Voices from the other side of the wall: the case of Romanian libraries of the 1970s and 1980s
Author(s):Şerbănuţă, Claudia
Director of Research:LaBarre, Kathryn
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):LaBarre, Kathryn
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Black, Alistair; Bruce, Bertram C.; Hitchins, Keith
Department / Program:Information Sciences
Discipline:Library & Information Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Library history
History of communism
Public libraries
Propaganda through libraries
Abstract:In the second half of the 20th century, the communist regime in Romania developed a centralized, national system of public libraries. The system had a clear purpose: to act as one of the regime’s propaganda tools. This study provides insight into the history of librarianship and of the public library system in communist Romania. The public libraries’ main objective was to contribute to the education of the population into the new socialist ideology promoted by the party. Consequently, while public librarianship grew as a profession, the party’s interest ensured that public libraries throughout the country were structured as a national system. Even so, public libraries failed as effective propaganda tools. In the last two decades of the regime the library system was dropped from the communist party’s core propaganda interests. Professional practices, spread by apprenticeship through the entire system of public libraries, adapted to this loss of support. The presence of propaganda in libraries, the conventions related to collection development, and the services offered for general and targeted publics, created practices that became naturalized in the library system. The survival of the national public library system depended on the negotiation that took place at the local level between professional library practices and local party representatives’ will. I conducted oral history interviews with people who worked in public libraries in the 1970s and 1980s. Their memories of the professional practices at the time are anchored by the archival documents and the existing literature on the history of this era. This research is the first in-depth history of an information profession in the last decades of the communist regime. It adds a distinct perspective to the history of communism by including the history of a profession that matured during this regime. Moreover, it contributes to an understanding of professional practices that continue in Romanian public libraries to this day.
Issue Date:2017-07-11
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Claudia Şerbănuţă
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-29
Date Deposited:2017-08

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