ALANNAH BERSON

Contributed Articles

The Mixed-Up Files of a 21st Century Librarian: Changing Demographics, Conceptions of Democracy, and The Public Library

ALANNAH BERSON University of Chicago With the rise of the internet, the role of the public library as a distributor of education, skills, and cultural capital has come under question while continuing to grow increasingly vital. This paper examines how libraries are dealing with changing technology while negotiating their relationship with their diverse patron populations., Using the concept of chronotope, a specific space and time that gives rise to a particular understanding of a person's character or an idea, this paper explores conceptions of patrons through systematic assumptions about patrons’ background and needs. Through the library's continued inclusion of technology in its services, it seeks to reach out to more patrons and support existing ones. This paper makes clear the connections between the current state of the library, its diverse audience of patrons, and the need for new ways of measuring library usage to generate a more nuanced understanding of patrons....

Developing Empathy through Research: Martha Cotton, A Profile

By ALANNAH BERSON How do you make 1000 designers better at research while ensuring quality and rigor at the same time? This is the kind of challenge Martha Cotton gets tackle at work everyday as Group Design Director for Research at Fjord—and as the newest member of the EPIC Board. “If we are going to deeply understand the people we are designing for, I’m passionate about helping my design colleagues get that understanding in the best and most efficient way. It is definitely a very fun part of my job, thinking about elevating how we do design research, and creating the tools and resources to support roughly 1000 designers around the world in their efforts to be better researchers.” One of the reasons Martha is so passionate about mentoring and teaching future researchers is that for her, becoming an ethnographer was a bit of an accident. “I was incredibly lucky early on to have the support of mentors who patiently nurtured what has turned out to be my life’s work.” This “accidental career” that Martha found...