Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage
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Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage

Edited by Ilde Rizzo and Anna Mignosa

Cultural heritage is a complex and elusive concept, constantly evolving through time, and combining cultural, aesthetic, symbolic, spiritual, historical and economic values. The Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage outlines the contribution of economics to the design and analysis of cultural heritage policies and to addressing issues related to the conservation, management and enhancement of heritage.
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Chapter 14: The immeasurable economics of libraries

Jean-Michel Salaün


Even though one of the founders of cultural economics has devoted an entire book to academic libraries (Baumol and Marcus, 1973), the researchers in this field are not really interested in libraries. This assertion may seem brutal, but some examples will suffice to illustrate it. The book coordinated by Ruth Towse (2003) is generally considered as a kind of international encyclopaedia of cultural economics. Yet from its 71 chapters, not one is devoted to libraries. The situation is worse if one looks for occurrences of ‘library’ or ‘libraries’ in the text: there are no more than ten, all related to publishing or digital technology. No reference directly concerns the economics of the library. In France recently, an issue of the Revue d’économie politique has been devoted to the economics of culture. In his lengthy introduction, Xavier Greffe (2010) presents a synthesis of progress and questions. The word ‘bibliothèque’ can be found only once . . . to remind readers that in France a tax on blank media paid by the libraries will contribute to the writers’ pension fund. The economics of heritage has not taken any real interest in it either.

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