now available! Roots
and Flowers: The Life and Work of Afro-Cuban
Librarian Marta Terry González by Abdul
Alkalimat and Kate WIlliams. Details here.
Events page includes material
from recent talks.
I am an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I received my PhD at the School of Information at University of Michigan where I was advised by Joan C. Durrance. I co-founded and continue to direct UIUC's Community Informatics Research Lab.
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?
My scholarship makes use of five interrelated concepts:
community, social capital, public computing, cyberpower,
and the informatics moment. By focusing on community and
social capital, I have clarified how community
technology adoption and transformation rely primarily on
forces within that community, even in underresourced
communities. By examining public computing—public places
where people learn and use computers—I have demonstrated
the usefulness of these spaces for local community
members and explained how they function. By applying the
concept of cyberpower to the study of communities, I
have focused attention on the results for communities
that use information technology rather than on
technology itself as a social intervention. And by
identifying the informatics moment, I have shifted
attention from the structural deficit model implied in
the concept “digital divide” to a process model of
self-reliant community transformation.