In recent years public libraries have experimented with user-generated or community-contributed content through the interactive tools of Web 2.0. For some commentators this not just establishes a new relationship between libraries and their publics, but signals the end of information hegemony and an ‘expert paradigm’. Such claims need to be treated with caution. This article argues that public library experiments with user-generated content can be more usefully analysed in the context of wider institutional mandates around literacy, civic engagement and access. This article critically examines some recent library developments in this field, with a particular focus on Australian libraries.
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