Campus Events

Research Brown Bag Series: Convivial Making: Power and The Library Faith in Public Library Creative Places

  • February 15, 2018
  • 12:30pm - 2:00pm
  • 2025 E Newport Ave, Milwaukee, WI, 53211, United States
  • School of Information Studies

Research Brown Bag Series: Convivial Making: Power and The Library Faith in Public Library Creative Places
By: Shannon Crawford Barniskis
PhD Student, UW-Milwaukee, School of Information Studies
Recently, public libraries have begun to provide access to collaborative creative places, frequently called “makerspaces.” The professional literature portrays these as beneficial for communities and individuals through their support of creativity, innovation, learning, and access to high-tech tools such as 3D printers. Professional rhetoric generally frames these places as empowering. Yet the concept of power has been neither well-theorized within the library makerspace literature nor explored in previous studies. This multi-site ethnographic case study fills the gap between the rhetoric and the reality perceived by the stakeholders, including staff, trustees, users–and non-users-of the library. It examines how public library discourses and practices, and library user discourses and practices, interact to shape the creative places and their impacts on the users’ perceptions of power. It uses Ivan Illich’s theory of convivial tools: tools that manifest social relations involving equitable distributions of power and decision-making. A convivial tool ensures that users may decide to which end they would like to apply the tool, and thus are constitutive of human capabilities and social justice. Eight key tensions emerged from the data and coalesce around the concept of conviviality, and also reveals eight facets of convivial tools that the users and providers of these spaces identify as crucial to their successful and satisfying implementation.

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