Radford, G. P., Radford, M. L. and Lingel J. (2015) ‘The library as heterotopia: Michel Foucault and the experience of library space’, Journal of Documentation, 71 (4) 733 – 751.
Purpose– Using Michel Foucault’s notion of heterotopia as a guide, the purpose of this paper is to explore the implications of considering the library as place, and specifically as a place that has the “curious property of being in relation with all the other sites, but in such a way as to suspect, neutralize, or invent the set of relations that they happen to designate, mirror, or reflect” (Foucault, 1986a, p. 24).
Design/methodology/approach– The paper draws upon a range of literary examples and from biographical accounts of authors such as Alan Bennett, Michel Foucault, and Umberto Eco to show how the library space operates as a heterotopia.
Findings– The paper finds that drawing together the constructs of heterotopia and serendipity can enrich the understanding of how libraries are experienced as sites of play, creativity, and adventure.
Originality/value– Foucault’s concept of heterotopia is offered as an original and useful frame that can account for the range of experiences and associations uniquely attached to the library.
30 September 2015