Enhancing Community Resilience: An Interdisciplinary Study of Midwestern Public Libraries

Headshot of Iulian Vamanu.
Iulian Vamanu, PhD

University of Iowa

Video of presentation "Enhancing Community Resilience: An Interdisciplinary Study of Midwestern Public Libraries" by Iulian Vamanu.

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Seminar Date: May 9, 2024

This interdisciplinary project investigates the role of local public libraries in enhancing community resilience amidst economic challenges, extreme weather conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our team’s research methodology included a survey sent to 415 library directors via state library listservs across 13 midwestern states, interviews with 14 library directors, as well as analysis of community-level census data, presidential election results and library-specific data from the annual Public Libraries Survey by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Our findings reveal that public libraries are crucial in bolstering community resilience. They provide essential services such as job assistance, access to social services with personalized support, and serve as safe havens during severe weather, offering vital shelter to the unhoused and under-housed populations.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries adapted by offering remote services and enhancing information access, for example, through the installation of Wi-Fi hotspots. The delivery of these critical services appears to be largely independent of the libraries' resources or the socio-economic conditions of the communities they serve, reflecting a deep-seated commitment rooted in the librarians' professional ethos.

Iulian Vamanu holds a PhD in communication, information and library, and information science from Rutgers University; a Master of Philosophy from Central European University (Hungary); and a Master of Arts in theories and practices of interpretation from the University of Iasi (Romania).

His research interests include cultural heritage (e.g., Indigenous curatorial practices, Mexican American folk dances, literary heritage tourism, cultural translation); reading practices in various contexts (e.g., religion, information ethics education, leisure); and the rhetoric and discourse research of information disorders (e.g., fake news and propaganda, misleading information visualizations).

Vamanu is working on a grant-funded multi-disciplinary project which aims to explore how public libraries impact local economic and social outcomes, and the factors that drive libraries to implement resilience-boosting programs and barriers to adoption.

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Thursday, May 9, 2024 at 12 p.m. ET
200G Baldy Hall
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