Adult learners, educational change and public libraries in the Netherlands, 1969-1991

Dale, Sheila M. (2003). Adult learners, educational change and public libraries in the Netherlands, 1969-1991. PhD thesis The Open University.



This study examines the extent to which the educational potential of public libraries was recognized by the educationalists and politicians attempting to open up educational opportunities in the Netherlands in the period 1969-1991, and by the library profession itself in its reaction and responses, and demonstrates that the full realization of the educational potential of public libraries depends not on the vision and will of the library profession alone, nor entirely on the attitudes of adult educators. The governmental structure within which libraries are situated, the relation of this to the structure for the education of adults, and political and economic circumstances are also crucial factors.

The study is thus concerned with the history of an idea (the concept of continuing education) and the reaction of a profession to this idea and its implementation. The latter is traced in terms of the profession's views on its own role and contribution to the introduction of educational change, and the extent to which it failed or succeeded in its response. The emphasis is on libraries in relation to educational change rather than educational change per SB, and principally on non-traditional students. The study is both descriptive and analytical, operating at the societal as well as the institutional level.

Although the period under review is 1969-1991, from time to time earlier periods are touched on, as necessary background. Similarly, although the study is situated in the Netherlands, occasional comparisons (direct or implicit) are made with Great Britain.

The method used is that of systematic literature review. A strong secondary aim of the study was to open up the literature on the topic, which is mainly in the Dutch language. This has been done by detailed summarizing and quoting (in translation) of the relevant documents.

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