For six years GSLIS has sponsored ten Digital Divide Lectures each fall. This year, the lectures continue under a new name: the Information City Lectures. Urbana Free Library Director Celeste Choate opened the lecture series in early September.
The lectures are hosted in conjunction with Info City CU, a partnership between the Community Informatics Lab at GSLIS headed by Associate Professor Kate Williams, the Department of African American Studies, the Digital Equality Initiative, and Chrisp Media. Info City CU will build upon decades of public computing innovation in Champaign-Urbana and pursue equitable and citywide access to technology, digital literacy, and relevant online content and applications.
“An information city is coming into being. The industrial city was a result of all kinds of forces. This time around, can we be more conscious and deliberate? Can we make sure the outcomes work for all of us? This means conversation, so the Digital Divide Lectures become the Information City Lectures,” said Williams.
In her talk, Choate emphasized the constant service innovations of the public library during her first months as director but also over the history of the public library as an institution. She talked about the longstanding Tech Volunteers program that evolved from a GSLIS community informatics class field assignment. She also highlighted the library’s successful Teen Open Lab program where the library's auditorium becomes a teen-only space during afterschool hours. Young patrons can design and make objects on a 3-D printer, compose and record music, and even sew on a modern computerized sewing machine—all of this supported by the library's strong book collection. The program was designed by librarians in consultation with their young adult patrons.
Upcoming lectures include the University’s new chief information officer, Mark Henderson, who will speak at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 27 at the Champaign Public Library. All lectures are open to the public. For the full schedule of talks please visit the Info City Lecture Series website.