Library as Infrastructure

Date: Monday 11 December 2017
Time: 9am–3pm
Venue: Western Sydney University Parramatta City Campus, 169 Macquarie Street, Parramatta
Register: Please email by Thursday 30 November to register your participation (and specify any dietary requirements).

Hosted by the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS), Western Sydney University, and funded by the Urban Living and Society Seed Funding Program.

Organising Team: Teresa Swist, Liam Magee (Senior Research Fellow, ICS), Rachel Hendery, Jason Ensor and Anne Spelman.


We invite workshop participants keen to explore how libraries are innovating their services, spaces and collections to meet the needs of diverse communities. The day will involve a range of speakers and activities to identify the interrelationship between people, places and digital platforms to understand how ‘library as infrastructure’ (Mattern, 2014) is being transformed. Your contribution will inform insights for a white paper about the ways in which libraries might leverage their significant role as intermediaries of public learning, connecting and knowledge sharing. If you work in a library, conduct research about libraries, or just love libraries in general then this workshop is for you!


This workshop aims to explore the ways in which the social, physical and digital infrastructures of libraries are evolving in Sydney. As technology and urban development rapidly advance, public spaces diminish, and information accumulates - a common domain for interaction, inquiry and imagination needs to be safeguarded. Questions we will explore in the workshop include: 1. How are library practices, technologies and places changing and what can we learn from this with regards to other public institutions? 2. How might we make visible and understand the ways in which social, physical, and digital infrastructures are evolving? 3. What are the key links between future library services, spaces and collections? 4. What questions of concern and issues of interest are held by library staff and users?


To explore these questions we have a range of presenters with diverse knowledge and expertise. They will share their insights about the following aspects and perspectives of libraries.


  • Browsing and Curating: Patterns of Library Use and the Role of Spatial Design  (Dr Jen Sherman, Geographer and Aspiring Librarian)
  • Reading: Findings from the Australian Cultural Fields Survey About Books and Reading in Australia Today (Dr Michelle Kelly, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University)
  • Making: Exploring Maker-spaces (Dr Kylie Budge, Senior Research Fellow, Urban Living and Society, Western Sydney University)
  • Connecting: the Role of Public Libraries in Serving the Homeless Population  (Dr Justine Humphry, Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney)
  • Leveraging: the Possibilities of Digital Platforms for Supporting (i) Community Innovation Across Business, Environmental and Social Issues (Julie Owens MP, Federal Member for Parramatta) and (ii) Intergenerational Knowledge Practices (Dr Teresa Swist, Engaged Research Fellow, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University)
  • Visualising: Making Library and Archival Data Visually Engaging for the General Public (Dr Rachel Hendery, Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities, School of Humanities and Communication Arts, Western Sydney University)
  • Learning and Sharing: Libraries As Infrastructures for Inclusion, Information Literacy, Little Data and Citizen Science (Dr Mary Anne Kennan, School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University)


  • Fairfield City Open Libraries (Whitlam Library, Cabramatta): Anne Spelman (Heritage and Library Programs Coordinator)
  • City of Sydney’s Library Network: Ellen Lowrey (Manager Program and Learning, Creative City) and Heather Davis (Manager, Libraries Network, Creative City)
  • Western Sydney University: Dr Jason Ensor (Manager, Library Digital Infrastructure for the University Library)

Reference: Mattern, S. (2014) “Library as Infrastructure,” Places Journal, June 2014. Accessed 24 Oct 2017. https://doi. org/10.22269/140609

^ Back To Top
ICS Website Feedback