Making in Libraries

Public Defence of PhD Thesis by Árni Már Einarsson.

Read thesis (pdf)

Assessment Committee

  • Associate professor Trine Louise Schreiber, Chair (University of Copenhagen)
  • Professor Ole Seier Iversen (Aarhus University)
  • Professor Netta Iivari (University of Oulu)

Moderator of the defence

  • Associate Professor Casper Hvenegaard Rasmussen (University of Copenhagen)

Copies of the thesis will be available for consultation at the following three places:

  • At the Information Desk of the Copenhagen University Library, South Campus
  • In Reading Room East of the Royal Library (the Black Diamond)
  • At the Department of Communication, Karen Blixens Plads 8

Abstract

Digitization has afforded new possibilities to access, store, and share information that has affected libraries. Libraries have developed from central information warehouses towards being public places for activity, learning, and community building. This PhD dissertation is about library makerspaces – a type of performative library spaces inviting users to create, learn, and take part in a community around tools and materials.

The dissertation asks the ostensibly simple thematic question “How are makerspaces practiced in libraries?” that is relevant for two reasons: First because makerspaces associate with expectations of empowerment, democratization, and community while outcomes depend on local conditions. Second, makerspaces in library symbolize change and involve practices not traditionally associated with libraries. That underscores the relevance of understanding the ways makerspace activities unfold in practice and integrate with existing values and practices of the library.

Library makerspace practices are further deconstructed into three questions covering users’ and staffs’ practices. These include (1) “how do library makerspaces arrange activities?,” (2) “how do material activities connect to makers’ everyday lives?,” and (3) “how do library makerspaces mediate social relations?”. The questions are addressed in six articles relying on data gathered in four complementary empirical studies. The studies include interview studies involving staff and users, an observational study of a communal library makerspace, and a video interaction analysis of father-child interaction in semi-structured non-formal activities. Together, these studies contribute to a nuanced understanding of practices in library makerspaces.

Based on practice theory, human-computer Interaction, and library information sciences, this dissertation discusses library makerspaces in relation to the organization of activities, information behavior, learning, meaning-making, community, and institutional embeddedness. This dissertation contributes an everyday perspective on library makerspaces enlightening both the new potentials makerspaces offer for libraries and the ongoing challenges of integrating new practices into institutionalized values and practices.