My research is focused on the social, community, and policy aspects of information and communication technology (ICT), particularly in areas related to digital inclusion and broadband adoption. This interdisciplinary critical approach includes examining the ways in which individuals and families with marginalized identities access and use ICTs in community settings, such as public libraries and community technology centers. My work builds upon community and social informatics, information policy research, and critical approaches to library and information science.


Growing Healthy Digital Equity Ecosystems During COVID-19 and Beyond. We define Digital Equity Ecosystems as interactions between individuals, populations, communities, and their larger sociotechnical environments that all play a role in shaping the digital inclusion work in local communities to promote more equitable access to technology and social and racial justice. Our research in this area seeks to understand the impact of COVID-19 on individuals and families without household internet access and how digital inclusion coalitions across the nation have responded in turn. The goal of the study is to provide data and evidence to help local, state, and federal policymakers in the U.S. develop more effective digital equity strategies nationwide. Findings from the study will also be useful for key stakeholders working to promote digital equity and racial justice in communities struggling with poverty during COVID-19 and after the pandemic ends. The publication of the first phase of our research is being supported by the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.

Measuring Library Broadband Networks for the National Digital Platform. This research project in partnership with Measurement Lab (M-Lab) at Code for Science & Society and Internet2 examines how advanced broadband measurement capabilities can support the infrastructure and services needed to respond to the digital demands of public library users across the U.S. The project will gather quantitative and qualitative data from public libraries across the country to 1) understand the broadband speeds and quality of service that public libraries receive; 2) assess how well broadband service and infrastructure are supporting their communities’ digital needs; 3) understand broadband network usage and capacity; and 4) increase their knowledge of networked services and connectivity needs. The project deliverables include an open source and replicable broadband measurement platform, training manual to help public librarians use that platform, and a final report on the project.The project is funded by a grant (award #LG-71-18-0110-18) from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.


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 (award #RE-31-16-0014-16) 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.


Rhinesmith, C., Dutilloy, J., Kennedy, S., McCann, L., Ritzo, C., Bullen, G., & Stenberg, S. (2020). Co-designing an open source broadband measurement system with public libraries. In L. Stillman, M. Anwar, C. Rhinesmith, & V. Rhinesmith (Eds.), Proceedings – 17th CIRN Conference 6-8 November 2019, Monash University Prato Centre, Italy: “Whose Agenda: Action, Research, & Politics.” (pp. 153-176). Department of Human Centred Computing, Monash University.

Reisdorf, B., & Rhinesmith, C. (2020). Digital Inclusion as a Core Component of Social Inclusion. Social Inclusion, 8(2), 132-137.

Strover, S., Whitacre, B., Rhinesmith, C., & Schrubbe, A. (2020). The Digital Inclusion Role of Rural Libraries: Social Inequities Through Space and Place. Media, Culture & Society42(2), 242-259.

Rhinesmith, C., Reisdorf, B., & Bishop, M. (2019). The Ability to Pay for Broadband. Communication Research and Practice, 5(2), 121-138.

Rhinesmith, C. (2019). Community Media. In Hobbs, R. & Mihailidis, P. (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Media Literacy. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. (invited submission.)

Coombs, P., & Rhinesmith, C. (2019). Edge Perspectives in Online Scholarly Communities: A Network Analysis of #critlib. Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 51(1), 86–93.

Reisdorf, B., & Rhinesmith, C. (2018). An Asset-Based Approach to Digital Inclusion Research in the US Context. In M. Ragnedda and B. Mutswairo (Eds.), Digital Inclusion: An International Comparative Analysis. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Rhinesmith, C., & Stanton, C. L. U. (2018). Developing Media Literacy in Public Libraries: Learning from Community Media Centers. Public Library Quarterly, 37(4), 420-440.

Rhinesmith, C., Nemer, D., & Urbano, C. (eds.) (2017). Special Issue: CIRN Conference, 2016. The Journal of Community Informatics, 13(2).

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

Rhinesmith, C. & Siefer, A. (2017). Digital Inclusion Outcomes-Based Evaluation. Evanston, IL: Benton Foundation. Retrieved from

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

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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