Associate Professor Emily Knox has been selected to receive a Community Impact Award from the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana for her work with Makerspace Urbana. She will receive the award at the Junior League's Community Impact Gala on November 17.
Makerspaces offer community members the space, tools, and technology to turn their ideas into reality. The mission of Makerspace Urbana is "to provide an open community lab where people of diverse backgrounds can learn, teach, tinker, collaborate, share, innovate, socialize, and create." In 2016, Knox went to the White House to represent Makerspace Urbana at the Nation of Makers meeting, which brought together individuals who run, support, and/or are involved with makerspaces around the country.
Knox is a key-holding member of Makerspace Urbana, which means that she has twenty-four hour access to the maker lab. At the lab, she engages visitors and teaches them how to do things, in addition to working with her fellow members to make the space inclusive and inviting.
"We work hard to make our space welcoming to everybody," Knox said. "One way we do that is by setting up the space itself so that it is welcoming, with empty tables that look like you could do whatever you like. We want people to engage in the so-called 'soft arts,' so we always have knitting needles and a sewing machine along with our 3D printer and vinyl cutter."
The Junior League cited her work at the lab and its impact upon the community. "Emily cares deeply about making art, technology, and crafts accessible to everyone in Champaign-Urbana. The skills she teaches add beauty and foster creativity in our community. Emily believes that hands-on learning should be available to all and works hard to keep Makerspace Urbana's services/equipment usage free or low cost."
Knox joined the iSchool faculty in 2012. Her research interests include intellectual freedom and censorship, the intersection of print culture and reading practices, and information ethics and policy. She serves on the boards of the Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T), Freedom to Read Foundation, and National Coalition Against Censorship. Knox received her PhD from the doctoral program at the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, and she earned her master's in library and information science from the iSchool at Illinois.