Mixed Metaphors: Between the Head and the Heart of the City

  • Dale Leorke
  • Danielle Wyatt


This chapter presents a situated account of libraries in the smart city by drawing upon case studies of public libraries in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Geelong. Both cities have made significant investments in libraries over the last decade, and both have linked these investments to city-led digital and smart city strategies. Through interviews with professional library staff, and a review of the policy documents, marketing material and media reporting on these developments, we draw out different visions of how libraries are understood to contribute to the smart city. This situated, ethnographic account provides a glimpse of the embodied realities behind the rhetoric of libraries in the smart city, revealing some of the tensions and opportunities this strategy represents. Our fieldwork reveals how ideals of the library as free, inviting spaces—the heart of their communities—sit sometimes uncomfortably alongside ambitions that they will be engines of innovation in the knowledge economy.


Public culture Public libraries Smart cities Third space 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dale Leorke
    • 1
  • Danielle Wyatt
    • 2
  1. 1.Tampere UniversityTampereFinland
  2. 2.University of MelbourneBalaclava, MelbourneAustralia

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