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Although the majority of joint use libraries in educational establishments provide at least an adequate level of service for their school, college, or university users, the standard of service they provide for members of the public is more questionable in many cases. This article considers the benefits and problems of joint use libraries from the perspective of their public users, providing examples from the UK and elsewhere to demonstrate how these occur in practice. A number of success factors are identified that need to be considered if a joint use library is to be successful as a community library, perhaps the most important of these being the need to involve the local community in the development of the library from its earliest stage. Gaining the support and active involvement of the local community is crucial; only then can the true benefits of joint use libraries, as locations for intergenerational activity and lifelong learning, be realized.
The guiding principle of joint use libraries should be that they provide a better standard of service than would otherwise be possible for all users and potential users; as Bromfield (2001) has put it, the joint use library should be "better than the sum of its parts." However, although most joint use public-school libraries function at least adequately as school libraries and provide an obviously higher level of service than would otherwise be available for students and teachers, the level of service they provide for local communities has been called into question.
Joint use libraries have been the source of heated disagreements within local communities. The controversy caused by the development of joint use libraries at San Jose in California and Visby in Sweden has been well-documented (see, for example, Kauppila & Russell, 2003; Hansson, 2006), but there have been numerous less documented disputes, played out in the local media and council chambers, resulting from proposals to develop joint use school-public libraries. To give just one example, the planned joint use library at Portree in the Scottish Highlands is currently causing controversy; according to the local newspaper, "The inclusion of community facilities within the school--most notably the Portree public library--has proved an unpopular decision, with several community groups campaigning to retain the library within the centre of the village" (West Highland Free Press, 2004). The local community has expressed concern because the school site is not at the center of the village, where many believe the library should be located, and the local community believes the proposed plan allocates too small an area for an adequate community library. In addition, some concerns have been expressed about the security and safety issues of allowing public access to the school site (West Highland Free Press, 2004).
Nevertheless, it can be argued that one of the main strengths of joint use libraries is their strong community emphasis. For example, they can act as sites for intergenerational activities; actively demonstrate the concept of lifelong learning; and provide information, educational, and cultural opportunities that would not otherwise exist in communities. In the 1960s White (1963) identified the following as some of the benefits of joint use libraries: longer hours of operation, better use of the building, and a closer relationship between parents and librarians. Most of the librarians working in joint use libraries surveyed by Jaffe in the early 1980s noted the special contribution these libraries made to their communities (in Fitzgibbons, 2000). The advantages of joint use libraries identified by Bundy in his survey of the literature include the following:
* Promoting greater community interaction by providing a community focal point
* Promoting greater access to information on community services
* Increasing the community's awareness and understanding of current education practice
* Promoting lifelong learning
* Bringing different community groups together on the governing board
* Providing a social justice outcome for smaller communities that could not support separate services (Bundy, 2002)
Joint use libraries, therefore, have the potential to bring a number of both immediate and longer-term benefits to local communities.
JOINT USE LIBRARIES AND PUBLIC POLICY
The principle of joint use facilities has been advocated over a number of years by policymakers in various countries. As Bundy points out, "The pressure for public schools to demonstrate accountability through community access to underused school facilities has undoubtedly been one reason for proposals for joint-use libraries in several countries" (Bundy, 2002, p. 6). In Australia, Dwyer observed a trend to involve the community in schools in the 1970s; joint use libraries were, therefore, "an educationally fashionable thing to encourage" at this time (Bundy, 1998, p. 6). There has been particular support for joint use facilities in South Australia, where in 1974 a politically mandated decision was made that the only way to bring public library services rapidly to small rural populations was to do so on the back of federally funded school libraries (Bundy, 1998). In the United States, Aaron claimed that renewed interest in joint use libraries in Florida in the 1990s was, in part, a result of the "one-stop school" concept advocated by Governor Lawton Chiles, who supported the centralization of community services on the school site (Aaron & Hannigan, 1980).
In the UK, as early as 1970, local educational authorities were being encouraged to provide facilities within schools and colleges that could be used by the local community. Although joint use libraries were not explicitly advocated at this time, at least attention was drawn to the possibility of combined libraries (Jones, 1977). More than thirty years later, the potential community role of joint public and school libraries was highlighted in a number of UK government policy initiatives. It is, perhaps, for this reason that the number of joint use libraries in the UK appears to have increased significantly over the last five years. They are seen as a politically attractive option in response to current New Labour policy initiatives. For example, in the last few years there has been increased pressure on schools to become more heavily involved with their local communities through the introduction of extended schools, (1) which provide a range of services and activities for the community, such as adult education classes, childcare, and information and communication technology (ICT) facilities. At the same time, there has been a tendency to site public libraries with other community services, in particular, through the creation of "one-stop shops" and "library learning centers." In 2000 Empowering the Learning Community recommended that public and educational libraries establish cooperative arrangements in order to improve services locally (LIC, 2000). Two years later, the Audit Commission report, Building Better Library Services, identified "making better …