Research

My research is focused on the social, community, and policy aspects of information and communication technology, particularly in areas related to digital equity and community technology. Recent research looks at how community anchor institutions, such as public libraries and community technology centers, promote digital equity through low-cost broadband, digital literacy training, low-cost devices, and public access computing programs. My work also considers the implications of telecommunication and information policymaking particularly for marginalized communities. My current research examines how rural libraries address the challenges of Internet connectivity with hotspot lending programs. My work contributes to social justice scholarship in library and information science by focusing on the ways in which community-based organizations work with marginalized communities to promote justice-centered goals.

My research interests are focused on the following areas:

    • social and community informatics
    • digital inclusion and broadband adoption
    • telecommunications and information policy
    • social justice in library and information science

CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS

At the Edges of the National Digital Platform: Rural Library Hotspot Lending Programs. This research project in partnership with researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Oklahoma State University will examine how rural libraries address the challenges of Internet connectivity with hotspot lending programs. The project will gather qualitative and quantitative data from 24 rural libraries with hotspot lending program experience, focusing on the librarians involved with the program, the users of the program, local community stakeholders, and non-users. Research outcomes will address the role of rural libraries in local information ecosystems, the impact of hotspot lending programs on users’ quality of life and digital literacy, community outcomes of these programs, and practical requirements for offering hotspot lending programs. Deliverables for the project include a guidelines document on program implementation, a short report on rural Internet connectivity and libraries, and a final research report. The project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Multiple Case Study Analysis of U.S. Broadband Adoption Initiatives. The research seeks to fill a gap in the literature on local broadband adoption initiatives that are incorporating low-cost broadband Internet service, public access to computers, and digital literacy training. In order to fully serve their communities, innovative organizations are working with local partners to increase broadband adoption. Broadband adoption has been defined as an individual’s ability to purchase broadband Internet service at home. While there are plenty of studies to show how libraries and other community-based organizations serve community members through public access to computers and digital literacy training, there is less evidence to show how organizations in local communities are working together to support people’s ability to adopt broadband Internet at home, while also providing public computing access and digital literacy training. This study seeks to address this gap by conducting interviews with administrators, staff, and community members involved in local broadband adoption initiatives in order to gain a deeper understanding of what role these programs play in helping community members to adopt high-speed Internet service at home. The research is funded by a grant from the Benton Foundation.

ARTICLES, CHAPTERS, AND PAPERS

Sweeney, M., & Rhinesmith, C. (2017). Creating Caring Institutions for Community Informatics. Information, Communication & Society20(10), 1482-1497. DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2016.1234635

Strover, S., Whitacre, B., Rhinesmith, C., & Schrubbe, A. (2017). At the Edges of the National Digital Platform. D-Lib Magazine, 23(5/6). Retrieved from http://www.dlib.org/dlib/may17/strover/05strover.html.

Rhinesmith, C. & Siefer, A. (2017). Digital Inclusion Outcomes-Based Evaluation. Evanston, IL: Benton Foundation. Retrieved from http://benton.org/outcomes-based-evaluation-report.

Wolske, M., & Rhinesmith, C. (2016) Critical Questions for Community Informatics in Practice from an Ethical Perspective. The Journal of Community Informatics, 12 (3), 236—242.

Rhinesmith, C. (2016). Community Media Infrastructure as Civic Engagement. In E. Gordon & P. Mihailidis (Eds.), Civic Media: Technology, Design, Practice. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. (invited.)

Whitacre, B., & Rhinesmith, C. (2016). Broadband Un-adopters. Telecommunications Policy, 40(1), 1-13.

Rhinesmith, C. (2016, Jan 4). Digital Inclusion and Meaningful Broadband Adoption Initiatives. Evanston, IL: Benton Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.benton.org/inclusion-adoption-report.

Rhinesmith, C., Dettman, M., Pierson, M., & Spence, R. (2015). YouthStudio: Designing Public Library YA Spaces with Teens. Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, 6(4).

Whitacre, B., & Rhinesmith, C. (2015). “Public Libraries and Residential Broadband Adoption: Do More Computers Lead to Higher Rates?” Government Information Quarterly, 32(2), 162-171.

Rhinesmith, C. & Wolske, M. (2015). “Community Informatics Studio: A Conceptual Framework.” In: Stillman, L. and Denison, T. (Eds.), Conference Proceedings – CIRN Community Informatics Conference “Challenges and Solutions”: 13-15 October, Monash Centre Prato, Italy: Centre for Community and Social Informatics, Faculty of IT, Monash University.

Rhinesmith, C. (2014, November). “The Social Shaping of Cloud Computing: An Ethnography of Infrastructure in East St. Louis, Illinois.” Paper presented to the 77th Association for Information Science and Technology Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Rhinesmith, C., & Wolske, M. (2014, October). “Community Informatics Studio: A Conceptual Framework.” Paper presented to the 11th Prato Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN) Conference, Prato, Italy.

Rhinesmith, C. (2014, October). “Toward an Infrastructural Approach to Community Informatics Research.” Paper presented to the 11th Prato Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN) Conference, Prato, Italy.

Wolske, M., Rhinesmith, C., & Kumar, B. (2014). “Community Informatics Studio: Designing Experiential Learning to Support Teaching, Research, and Practice.” Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 55(2), 166-177.

Rhinesmith, C. (2013, November). “From Paper to the Cloud: The Social Informatics of Information Boundaries in Human Services.” Paper presented to the 9th Annual Social Informatics Research Symposium at the 76th Association for Information Science and Technology Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada.

Wolske, M., & Rhinesmith, C. (2013, January). “Community Informatics Studio: Designing Experiential Learning to Support Teaching, Research, and Practice.” Paper presented to the 2013 Association for Library and Information Science Education Conference, Seattle, Washington, USA. (selected as a “Featured Presentation” based on reviewers’ scores and comments)

Rhinesmith, C. (2012). “Free Library Hot Spots: Supporting Broadband Adoption in Philadelphia’s Low-Income Communities.” International Journal of Communication, 6, 2529-2554.

Rhinesmith, C. (2012, April). “Free Library Hot Spots: Redefining Broadband Adoption in Philadelphia’s Low-Income Communities.” Paper presented to the Defining and Measuring Meaningful Broadband Adoption Academic Workshop at the New America Foundation, Washington, D.C., USA.

Rhinesmith, C. (2011). “Community Media in the Digital Age.” In T. Scholz (Ed.), Learning Through Digital Media: Experiments in Technology and Pedagogy (195-202). New York, NY: Institute for Distributed Creativity.

Kehoe, A., & Rhinesmith, C. (2011, November). “Developing a Quantitative Measure of Information Inequality: A Work In Progress.” Paper presented to the Community Informatics Research Network Conference, Prato, Italy.

Kehoe, A., Wolske, M., & Rhinesmith, C. (2011, November). “Disentangling Measurement in Community Informatics.” Paper presented to the Community Informatics Research Network Conference, Prato, Italy.

Rhinesmith, C., Wolske, M., & Kehoe, A. (2011, November). “Measuring the Impact of Citizen Journalism: A Study of Community Newsrooms in North Champaign and East St. Louis, Illinois.” Paper presented to the Community Informatics Research Network Conference, Prato, Italy. (awarded best paper)

Rhinesmith, C. (2011, March). “Your News, Your Lens: Alternative Journalism and Public Access Television.” Paper presented to the Media Interventions Division at the 9th Annual Cultural Studies Association Meeting. Chicago, Illinois, USA.

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