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A Leap of Librarians: Libraries as Collectivities in the Public Sphere 

Pawley, Christine

In this talk, Christine Pawley provides an overview of the history of American libraries in the public sphere, with vignettes from the 19th and early 20th centuries.  She contrasts competing theories in the history of reading and print culture, and stresses the importance of institutions in understanding the social relations that from the 19th century onwards have both structured people’s everyday lives and provided space for individual action.  Finally, she suggests avenues for twenty-first century librarians to explore the notion of libraries as collectivities, including mapping local print and digital cultures, serving organizational users, and developing a hybrid account of textual relations.


Christine Pawley is Mary Emogene Hazeltine Research Fellow and former Director of the School of Library and Information Studies and the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Her publications include Reading on the Middle Border: The Culture of Print in Late Nineteenth-Century Osage, Iowa (2001), and Reading Places: Literacy, Democracy, and the Public Library in Twentieth Century America (2010), both from the University of Massachusetts Press. She is currently working on a history of Progressive Era women’s institutional involvement in print culture tentatively titled Organizing Women: Print Culture and Community Power in Early Twentieth Century America.


Closing Keynote: 

This Is What the Library Looks Like: Activism Obligations and Social Institutions

Lingel, Jessa
Rutgers University

Within a week of the emergence of Occupy Wall Street, a library surfaced, becoming a focal point of the protest and its eventual eviction. In this talk, I discuss the People’s Library in terms of larger discussions of libraries, technology and activism.

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