Libraries in women’s lives: everyday rhythms and public time

Kate Spencer-bennett

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This paper asks how libraries have rhythmed women’s education and everyday lives. It draws on women’s narratives of library use in a multicultural suburb of Birmingham, UK. It shows that women’s use of libraries exists in rhythmic relations with other times and places, both public and private. The narratives reveal the value of the library in offering space for women to claim time for themselves in the Lefebvrian “weak time, the stops, silences, blanks”. Routines, cycles and continuity of use over various scales are important in women’s engagements with libraries. Memorable too are particular moments. Punctuating the quotidian rhythms of library use, these moments are individual stories of rupture; times of great significance in women’s lives. Changes to library provision have, therefore, rhythmic consequences, with reduced opening hours and library closure bringing arrhythmia. Through the library, women are linked to particular histories and they enter into shared rhythms, within both the present and the past. Libraries, this paper argues, offer not only an important public space but also public time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalEducational Review
Early online date12 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Libraries
  • women
  • rhythm
  • Lefebvre
  • rhythmanalysis


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