Covering the Land of Lincoln

Journal Article: “How Librarians and Firefighters Built a Special Library in Champaign, Illinois, USA: A Community Informatics Story”

The article linked below was recently published by Digital Transformation and Society.


How Librarians and Firefighters Built a Special Library in Champaign, Illinois: A Community Informatics Story


Claudia Grisales Bohorquez
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Lian Ruan
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Kate Williams
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Digital Transformation and Society
Article publication date: 30 December 2022

DOI: 10.1108/DTS-08-2022-0035


This paper aims to understand how a special library helped firefighters in Illinois navigate the digital revolution by evidencing the elements and forms of work that made its innovative services possible.


The authors examine the history of a special library through a community informatics lens, drawing from sociomaterial perspectives to highlight forms of work often invisible in digital innovation. Data was collected through documentary revision, oral histories and semi-structured interviews. Deductive-inductive coding and constant comparative analysis was used in the analysis.


A historical narrative of the library between 1990 and 2021 highlights three sociotechnical innovations that assisted firefighters through the digital revolution: the facilitated collection, the co-created collection and the inside-out library. To develop these innovations the library drew from institutional relations, personal relations, grants, labor, knowledge of firefighters and technology. Various forms of articulation work brought these elements together to create innovative services.


The role of special libraries in addressing the digital divide has not been sufficiently detailed so far; this paper is a contribution in that direction. It also has practical value for professionals working in specialized libraries and information centers.

Direct to Full Text Article

Filed under: Data Files, Funding, Interviews, Journal Articles, Libraries, News, Special Libraries

About Gary Price

Gary Price ([email protected]) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington DC metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.

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