Cultural participation in Estonian memory institutions
My PhD thesis focuses on the communication of Estonian memory institutions (MIs) with patrons and/or visitors and the meanings perceived (by different stakeholders, including the staff at MIs) in the context of MIs. Mapping the stakeholders at the University of Tartu Library and the Estonian National Museum is one of the first tasks. Who has stronger or weaker bonds with the Mis? Who are the stakeholders using MIs’ digital environments, and are there any stakeholder groups that overlap on given museum and library stakeholders’ maps? The issue of how different patron groups and the librarians themselves perceive meanings in and around the university library is also on the research agenda. The question, “what is the role of the library” is raised but in a new context. Because library science, like the social sciences increasingly deals with democracy and participatory practices, it would be interesting to know how these concepts work in a library. Of course, the library serves all members of the community and treats all information preserved in the library equally. However, what about participation? Although libraries are respected and valued members of society, it would be intriguing to study how modern civil society has found its way into the library. After considering different definitions of “participation” or “cultural participation” in the context of MIs, it appears that these notions are quite often mixed with notions of “availability” and/or “accessibility”. Therefore, it is worth also studying the definitions of participation that are “circulating” in MIs. Our subject librarians offer a program on information literacy to the students of the University of Tartu. As one of the tutors of this program, I assist and give feedback to bachelor, master and doctoral students. However, does the information literacy “package” that we perceive as correct suit the needs of our students? Although we collect feedback on the course from those who pass it, I also have been interested in how the students experience information literacy prior the course. How small or big might be the gap between different opinions on information literacy, and do they acceptor contest the librarian notion of information literacy? Theories: information behaviour (Wilson, Kuhlthau, Savolainen etc), communication sciences and sociology (Blumer, Giddens, Habermas, van Dijk etc) and democratic theory (Pateman Arnstein). Methods: expert interviews, questionnaires (printed and online), grounded theory (for analyzing expert interviews), content analysis (for analyzing questionnaires).