Public library as a safe place: principles and experiences of Brazilian Park Libraries in Rio de Janeiro

SILVA MEDEIROS, Ana Ligia and ALINE, Gonçalves da Silva and OLINTO, Gilda (2018) Public library as a safe place: principles and experiences of Brazilian Park Libraries in Rio de Janeiro. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2018 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Transform Libraries, Transform Societies in Session 114 - Metropolitan Libraries.

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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Public library as a safe place: principles and experiences of Brazilian Park Libraries in Rio de Janeiro

This paper initially takes into account some institutional and theoretical approaches that give emphasis to the notion of the public library as a “place” and “safe place”. The discussion presented emphasizes the importance of directives of IFLA and UNESCO and of the social capital theory applied to public libraries as major inspiring sources of this idea. It is also pointed out here that this perspective is very appropriate for adoption in developing country contexts, notably in violent poor communities of metropolitan areas. The Park library experiences, in Colombia and Brazil, are good examples of a public library model that could be considered as taking into account similar ideals. After a brief presentation of the Colombian initiatives, the focus of the paper is on the Park libraries of Rio de Janeiro. Their general characteristics suggest these libraries are very well equipped and welcoming to underprivileged groups. A study focusing on one Park library, located in a very poor and violent region of the city is presented. The study revealed that this experience values community development and social capital formation of its users. Data obtained pointed to several positive characteristics of this library experience: a room for the community use was provided, library access and use by local young boys and girls was encouraged, community conviviality was emphasized, stimulus for creative activity with locals and the study of community history was promoted. Unfortunately, the Park libraries of Rio de Janeiro face now a serious crisis, and some are still closed or functioning partially.

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