Title: Infrastructuring Libraries in Transformation (ILIT)
Last month, urban and cultural geographers Rianne van Melik, Friederike Landau-Donnelly and Jamea Kofi started a new research project entitled “Infrastructuring the Social: Public Libraries and their Transformative Capacity in Austerity Urbanism”. Public libraries are long-acknowledged places for information provision and knowledge transmission, but they increasingly also function as important socio-cultural infrastructures contributing to everyday urban life. However, austerity pressures heavily threaten libraries’ function as spaces of encounter. The ILIT consortium examines how public libraries in Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands address systemic challenges such as unemployment, loneliness and segregation in rapidly transforming societies. It deploys the analytics of ‘infrastructuring’ and ‘librarising’ to unpack the (in)formal practices that library staff, patrons, policy-makers and other stakeholders employ to provide, perform and maintain public libraries as important socio-cultural infrastructures. By organising co-productive zine-making workshops with these different stakeholders, the project’s ambition is to simultaneously study and cultivate a sense of community and social infrastructuring performed in and through public libraries.
The project is one of the 16 (out of 145) proposals selected for funding by ERA-NET Cofund Urban Transformation Capacities. The consortium consists of scholars from Radboud University, University of Lund (Sweden) and University of Vienna (Austria) as well as non-academic partners.
The project runs for three years and the Dutch part will focus on Rotterdam’s public library.