The Library and the Internet: An Interpretive Study of the State Library of Victoria

Wenn, Andrew (2005) The Library and the Internet: An Interpretive Study of the State Library of Victoria. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Libraries have been with us for almost as long as writing; their role, purpose and means of operation have changed greatly over the thousands of years of their existence. Technology simpliciter can be understood as humans at work. The way we work shapes the technologies we use just as technologies shape the way we work. That is, there is a mutual shaping or coconstruction of society and technology. This thesis is a study of libraries and the introduction of Internet technologies. Employing the notion of an open system that is, one which is undergoing constant change, has indeterminate boundaries and means of control, it examines from a sociotechnical viewpoint, informed by Actor-Network Theory, the way the mutual interaction between technologies, society and culture shape the evolution of the system. Data were collected in 1998-9 and 2005 utilizing techniques from both ethnographic and case study research, to capture and illustrate this fluidity. Three libraries in Melbourne, Australia, were objects of this exploratory study with both library staff and users being interviewed and observed as they engaged with Internet technologies as part of their working, studying, communicating or recreational lives. The thesis report seeks to make the reader aware, through a process of reflexive or confessional reporting, the interrelatedness of all the actors (including the researcher), both human and nonhuman, in the evolution and shaping of the system of Internet use in the organizations that were the objects of this study. The resulting study reveals uncertainty, resistance, accommodation, enthusiasm and even failure in the sociotechnical system and serves to illustrate the fallibility of theories that assume society and technology are essentially static categories -especially when applied at the micro level, as here.

Additional Information

The contents PDF is hyperlinked. Click on the individual items to load the corresponding section of the thesis.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 220000 Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts-General
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Hospitality Tourism and Marketing
Keywords library; internet; State Library of Victoria
Download/View statistics View download statistics for this item

Search Google Scholar

Repository staff login