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Thursday, June 10 • 11:45am - 12:45pm
Contemplation in the Commons: An Ethnographic Study of the University of Toronto Faculty of Information Inforum’s iRelax Mindfulness Resource Area

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Created in 2016, the iRelax Mindfulness Resource Area in an innovative meditation and yoga resource hub situated within the University of Toronto Faculty of Information’s Inforum Learning Commons. Comprised of approximately fifty interconnected digital, physical, and textual resources, the iRelax area possesses a distinctly open and visible spatial profile intended to promote open conversations about positive mental health. This presentation at APLA 2021 will advance findings from a recently completed ethnographic study of the iRelax area that casts its unique configuration of resources and several initiatives and programs that it has engendered subsequent to its creation as contemplative infrastructure. The study’s findings suggest that this novel form of infrastructure fulfills an important service gap left unmet within many information institutions and furthermore highlights the value of contemplative infrastructure as a concept worthy of future inquiry.

Contemplative infrastructure is characterized by the properties of embeddedness, interconnection, openness, and reach (Star & Ruhleder, 1996; Monteiro et al., 2013), as well as holism, intentionality, transparency, and visibility. Engagement with contemplative infrastructure involves an interest in the development of attention, focus, resilience, and wellbeing, as well as in certain cases the immaterial beyond the material or the spiritual. Contemplative infrastructure additionally includes the various individuals that are associated with it in existing and emergent roles, including ‘designers and developers, users and mediators, managers and administrators’ (Bowker et al., 2010, p. 98).

Bowker, G. C., Baker, K., Millerand, F., & Ribes, D. (2010). Toward information infrastructure studies: Ways of knowing in a networked environment. In J. Hunsinger et al. (Eds.) International handbook of internet research. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4020-9789-8_5
Monteiro, E., Pollock, N., Hanseth, O., & Williams, R. (2013). From artefacts to infrastructures. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 22, 575-607.
doi: 10.1007/s10606-012-9167-1
Star, S. L. & Ruhleder, K. (1996). Steps toward an ecology of infrastructure: Design and access for large information spaces. Information Systems Research, 7, 111-134.
doi: 10.1287/isre.7.1.111.  


Hugh Samson

Graduate Student, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

avatar for Marc Harper

Marc Harper

VP President Elect, Atlantic Provinces Library Association

Thursday June 10, 2021 11:45am - 12:45pm ADT
Stream: Red Delicious