Public libraries have long been considered important spaces of adult education and learning.
However, major social changes over the past few decades, and the impact these have had on libraries’ work, have received little attention. Our three‐year cross‐national study of libraries in Canada and Britain explored how librarians navigate the discourse of adult education and learning and understand its place and value in the institution and society. Findings show that technology, both positively and negatively, drives the pedagogical directions, particularly in Britain, and there is a schism between the values and identities of younger and seasoned librarians. However, we also found that despite age and political and technological pressures, librarians still predominantly view themselves as educators and position the library as a critical cultural space for aesthetic, social, and collective learning and engagement.