UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An analysis of adult education in libraries and museums Crawford, Jennifer


One of the characteristics of adult education is the degree to which it is dispersed throughout society. Much adult education is practiced in organizations and institutions that have purposes other than adult education. Schroeder (1970, p. 37) has suggested a category of adult education agencies (Type III agencies) established to serve both the educational and non-educational needs of the community, agencies in which "adult education is an allied function employed to fill only some of the needs which agencies recognize as their responsibility." The purpose of this study was to examine adult education in Schroeder's Type III agencies using libraries and museums as examples. The study addressed the definition and description of adult education, the importance of adult education relative to other functions of the organization, and the purposes for which the organizations used adult education. A comparative analysis of the adult education function of three libraries and three museums was conducted. Print materials (annual reports and publicity brochures) and interviews with the person responsible for programming were used as data sources. Analysis of the findings was done in three stages: single case analysis (within case analysis), analysis of libraries and museums (within category analysis), and comparison of libraries and museums (across category analysis). Many definitions of adult education were found. Most described the purposes of adult education rather than the process of teaching and learning. It was also found that the importance of adult education varied among the organizations studied. Adult education was less important than other organizational functions in four of the six organizations studied. It was as important as other functions in one organization and was not ranked in one organization. Five uses for adult education were found: stimulation (encouraging better use of the library or museum), enrichment (adding extra information), extension (enlarging community contacts), service (filling a social need), and advocacy (promoting social change). Generally, libraries used programming for extension and museums used it for enrichment. This study has contributed to understanding adult education in Type III organizations by describing some ways non-professional adult educators view adult education. It has also suggested some contextual factors that influence the adult education function in those organizations and has suggested a variety of purposes for which adult education could be used.

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