Librarians as Proxies: An exploratory study on the digital proxy practices of librarians

I have recently been awarded a small research grant from Edinburgh Napier University. The project, for which I am PI, is called “Librarians as Proxies: An exploratory study on the digital proxy practices of librarians” (LAP) and will run through July 2023.

The aim of this scoping study is to investigate how librarians support library users to access digital services and tools. We want to gain a better understanding of what activities librarians support, the frequency of support, and the impact this has on their professional role.

We are conducting this research as a “diary study” with participants from the UK and the USA. Participants (both paid library staff and volunteers) will complete structured diaries with a sub-set of those participants asked to take part in semi-structured interviews. The aim of the diaries is to gain a broad understanding of the proxy activities undertaken when assisting users with online tools and technology, as well as any differences in practice between librarians in the UK and the USA, and rural or urban communities.

This work is to be undertaken with my Co-I, Gemma Webster, who has a track record with researching digital proxies and user engagement in community settings, and our research assistant, Andrew Feeney. Andrew is both an ENU PhD student investigating user-led approaches to digital literacies and a professional librarian with extensive practical experience of addressing digital and information literacy.

This research furthers my previous research on the theme of digital proxies, including a Carnegie Trust project undertaken with Gemma (Social Media By Proxy) and another Napier-funded project with Peter Cruickshank (DISIPRAC).

If you are interest in learning more about this work or participating in the study, please email me at

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