Dimitris Soudias: Imagining the Commoning Library: What is it for? And what is it against?
Dimitris Soudias is the Marilena Laskaridis Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Amsterdam. His research is informed by economic sociology and cultural economy approaches to the study of such issues as creativity, happiness, entrepreneurship, uncertainty, and the social economy.
The ascent of what has variously been referred to as ‘digital’, ‘informational’, or ‘platform’ capitalism has been largely successful in doing both: transforming certain forms of digital knowledge from a public service to a private good, as well as commodifying the access to this knowledge, for example through so-called ‘pay-walls’. This has led to a situation where certain communities are denied knowledge and participation. As predominantly non-commercial and public spaces, libraries serve the vital function of deflecting these developments, by providing affordable or free access to knowledge for their respective communities. In this talk, I argue for re-imagining the public library as a commoning library in two ways: a) as facilitators for spaces of commoning knowledge, and, in turn, b) as what I call “alter-neoliberal pedagogies.” Here, alternative literacies, ways of learning, and ways of being, are nurtured, thereby suggesting that we think of ourselves as social beings in a society, with needs and desires; rather than as individualized, consumerist, entrepreneurial and profit-maximizing economic beings in a market. To do so, I suggest five practical insights on how this may be achieved.