Abstract

Historically, libraries have evolved from safekeeping masses of information to democratizing information for the masses, and as a result, have become a vital structure in the support of community resiliency. Yet, the value of a contemporary public library is consistently understated. As such, it must be deliberately examined and celebrated, begging the question: what is the role of libraries as a public institution in civil society? In response, this research illuminates the ways in which libraries have motivated society towards inclusion, equity, and community cohesion in engaging with models of library and information science from the lenses of critical theories, clarifying the methods and extent of which libraries influence dimensions of community resiliency and quality of life. The research is two-fold: first, a methodological investigation is made into the link between library and community through use of secondary data analysis for Kentucky counties, and second, personal surveying and content analyses illuminates such themes on an individual level. Further nuance is supplemented through a brief discussion of the effects of COVID-19 on libraries, their services, and librarianship as a profession. It is the intention of this thesis to illuminate the vision of a public library and its reflection of cultural values, connection to democracy, and relationship to communities through an intersectional lens. In turn, a clarified model of librarianship is offered as a path forward to minimize inequality and promote community cohesion and resilience. In uniting the public and personal, the research aims to clarify these complex relationships and affirm the value of public infrastructure in contemporary social life.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2022

Mentor

James N. Maples

Mentor Department Affiliation

Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level

Bachelors

Department

Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)

4424

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