In the information society, is the community focused library a real possibility? This book reappraises the relationship between the library and its communities through an examination of the rise and decline of 'community' librarianship over the last three decades. The authors consider key models of community based library service and argue that bland assertions of community prevalence mask a complex and problematic relationship between a highly traditional public service bureaucracy and its users. The resulting uncertainty of purpose, they claim, explains much of the current 'crisis' of the public library movement. Drawing on recent social science theory and empirical work in the field, this book offers a new and critical perspective on the current public library debate. It is essential reading for librarians, students of information and library science and all who have a stake in the future of the public library. As a case study of community, public service and the local state it should also be of value to those with an interest in community development, cultural policy and local government.