Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Radford, G. P., Radford, M. L., & Lingel, J. (2015). The library as heterotopia: Michel Foucault and the experience of library space. Journal of Documentation, 71(4), 733-751.

doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/JD-01-2014-0006

Abstract
Purpose
Using Michel Foucault’s notion of heterotopia as a guide, the purpose of this paper is to explore the implications of considering the library as place, and specifically as a place that has the “curious property of being in relation with all the other sites, but in such a way as to suspect, neutralize, or invent the set of relations that they happen to designate, mirror, or reflect” (Foucault, 1986a, p. 24).

Design/methodology/approach
The paper draws upon a range of literary examples and from biographical accounts of authors such as Alan Bennett, Michel Foucault, and Umberto Eco to show how the library space operates as a heterotopia.

Findings
The paper finds that drawing together the constructs of heterotopia and serendipity can enrich the understanding of how libraries are experienced as sites of play, creativity, and adventure.

Originality/value
Foucault’s concept of heterotopia is offered as an original and useful frame that can account for the range of experiences and associations uniquely attached to the library.

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