On the basis of an explorative case-study research, we describe and typify the (changing) strategic role of 9 public libraries within the urban networks aiming for the future development and innovation of Flemish and Dutch cities. Although the City of Flows (Manuel Castells) was initially not used as the central frame of reference, it was used ex-post to embed and relate the research results inductively to a suitable theoretical frame of reference. The collected data reveal the existence – or rise ? – of one generic strategic role and three more specific strategic roles (i.e. an urban landmark, an area-oriented herald and/or a target group patron). Each strategic role has specific implications for content- and process-related policy issues within these public libraries. The paper identifies, depicts and illustrates the nature of these specific policy issues.


Nathalie Vallet studied Applied Economics at the University of Antwerp (1985-1989) and finalized her PhD at the University of Nijenrode in the Netherlands (2001). At present she teaches on Management, Organization Management and Strategic Management within several academic (bachelor/master) and post-academic programs of the University of Antwerp. Her major research interest focuses on strategic management and strategy implementation in the public sector. During the last 13 years she has realized several policy related research projects within different types of public and social profit organizations such as local governments, cities, higher education institutions, police organizations, penitentiary institutions, social economy organizations and public libraries. Finally, she is also specialized in qualitative research methods (Grounded Theory). Further information can be found on my webpage of the University of Antwerp: