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Organizational Learning and Home-Grown Writing: The Library Staff Magazine in Britain in the First Half of the Twentieth Century


Staff magazines in British public libraries emerged in the early twentieth century. Unlike staff magazines in private enterprises, which predate them by two decades, library staff magazines were more truly the product of employees, inaugurated and operated as they often were by staff associations. This study is based on an analysis of staff magazines in three public library systems in Britain in the first half of the twentieth century: Croydon, Sheffield, and Leeds. Against backdrops of growing popular education, organizational enlargement, changing management styles, and increasing professionalization, the library staff magazine provided opportunities for employees to write. This was undertaken as a pastime; as a form of organizational learning and networking; as a contribution to labor and occupational solidarity; and, finally, as a vehicle for professional advancement and professional identity formation, though one that contained an element of “othering” of the public as well as of junior and female staff.

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