Research Interests

My real interest is in power: how it is shared, impeded, appropriated, recognized or veiled. I’m interested in looking at the institutions and projects in light of power, especially community institutions such as libraries, schools, parks, and other public places, as well as online spaces. I’m currently most interested in the case of public libraries because I see this institution as most likely to facilitate equitable power-sharing for six main reasons:

  1. The ethical mandate of librarians and libraries is to ensure access. I look at access as a somewhat broader concept than is commonly described in intellectual freedom contexts in librarianship, using the positive liberty connotations of access as a sociocultural support network.
  2. The ubiquity of public libraries in most communities, and their status as often the ONLY space in a community for people to gather without mediations of economics, education, religion, politics or socioeconomic barriers—at least in theory.
  3. Their physical space is embodied, unlike virtual or digital environments, which offers a different instrumental effect on agency/power/community than digital spaces, and in which the affordances of the space are expressed differently than in virtual ones.
  4. They have long gathered a wide array of materials for the purpose of ensuring that anyone may encounter and engage with any idea, and have also long provided programs and services for similar reasons.
  5. Libraries are publicly-funded for the purpose of enabling democracy, and to support the necessary skills in critical understanding and debate for the democratic project.
  6. The role of the librarian is a unique catalyst for power and ideas, in their roles of arranging, offering, promoting, or marketing materials and programs to and for people.

Furthermore, I am interested in looking at micro-level impacts of access/information policy beyond public libraries, especially in small or rural communities, or in communities in which resources are severely limited in some ways.

Topics I have researched or am researching:

  • Library fines
  • Library mission statements
  • Art and creative programs in libraries
  • Teen perceptions of libraries, especially in terms of social capital/civic engagement
  • Teaching art in libraries
  • Creative spaces/makerspaces in libraries
  • Making as power/agency
  • Access as a positive liberty based in ability not rights
  • The changing role of the librarian
  • Creative lives and the place of the library (not) in them
  • Non-use of libraries
  • Pew Center research on public libraries
  • Public librarians’ perceptions of research utility
  • Weeding as a statement of relevance, from the users’ perspective
  • The capital of libraries (social, human, etc.)
  • Practitioner research and research methods
  • Social theory in LIS
  • And so on.

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