September 12, 2008

By Special Request: What is Community Informatics?

Questions abound concerning one of my specializations at the School of Information. Even SI is struggling to come up with some set definition. I think that basically it is about sharing information. How is this different from Library and Information Services? LIS is about the how. Community Informatics is about the what and the why. For me this means seeing libraries as community centers (both public and academic) that serve the needs of their communities. I think that a lot of community informatics involves getting librarians out from behind the desk and into the community, visiting different organizations and groups, finding out what they need the library to be. Information is meant to be shared, and this process won’t work if librarians are confined within the walls of the library. Sometimes this might mean creating unlikely connections.
I worked on a project a year ago that connected a public library and archive with the parks and recreation department, our local neighborhood association, and the city commission of my hometown. We brought an exhibit on a local pool created in the archive to the place in the city where it belonged, at the pool (see or add to and edit the wiki version This made people in the community aware of the archive and the library, while we all celebrated the rich history of our neighborhood pool. People asked me reference questions at the opening of the exhibit. Reference questions while waiting in line to do cannon balls off the diving board? Yes, please.

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1 comment:

  1. Hey boy, feel free to change the images or image placement to better highlight your points. Or tell me to upload something else. But I'm going to go do homework right now. Okay. Holler.