My current project is Ancient to the Future, community
dialogue and learning about inequality and climate change. This follows the Fall 2021 minitalks on Libraries and Climate. Join us in person or online this
November 5, 2022!
For material from recent talks, see the Events page.
I am an Associate Professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I earned my PhD at the School of Information at University of Michigan, advised by Joan C. Durrance I co-founded and continue to direct UIUC's Community Informatics Research Lab.
My pandemic information work has included heightened health information seeking, like many of us; curating informational email blasts to friends and family; zoom talks, especially about New Philadelphia, Illinois, the subject of my 2018 co-authored book; and the free publication A Workers Guide to Meatpacking/Guía para Trabajadores sobre la Industria de Productos Cárnicos. Three challenges are on at once—COVID-19, the much-needed Black Lives Matter movement, and joblessness at the level of the Great Depression. In "Communities in Disasters: Helpless or Helping?" Aiko Takazawa and I explain that actions by the most affected are key.
The overarching question that drives my research is this: Is community possible in the digital age? In posing this question, I follow in the footsteps of the early urban sociologists, who debated whether community was possible in the industrial age. In other words, I am asking to what extent are local communities sustainable in the information age, and how will they continue to support our lives. Answering this question requires insights into how and under what conditions people and institutions in local communities are using computers and the Internet—for community development, economic advancement, health, culture, and the myriad activities of everyday life. One specific aspect of this research is highly relevant to graduate library and information science education: What is the role of the public library in this process?