Public libraries located in rural locations have unique capabilities to generate social well-being outcomes in their communities. Through conversations with over 200 people in eight remote towns across the US, we heard rural residents describe the “good life” in their own terms and the ways in which their local public libraries enriched that life.

Key findings include:

  • Rural residents prioritize social connection and nature over access to amenities.
  • Rural libraries connect residents in a variety of ways, over time, impacting core vitality and security in their unique communities.
  • Rural library directors are bonded to the community, described as selfless and engaged, and are seen as both belonging themselves and active in creating belonging in others.

Volunteer / Intern Open Call!

The Rural Library Service & Social Wellbeing Project (in partnership with the Southern Tier Library System) is looking for digitally savvy people to help out with our labor intensive data cleaning processes.

Here are the details:

  • We need help now through April 15, 2021
  • Choose between three areas of work:
    • Audio editing
    • Transcript cleaning
    • Code transfers
  • Commit week-by-week

Questions I imagine you asking:

  • Why is this volunteering instead of an internship?
    • We don’t have the money to pay you.
    • Although you will gain skills and technical proficiency in any of the areas you help out in, you don’t get to make any decisions. I think good, ethical internships are defined in part by growing your decision making muscles in context of technical skills.
    • If you’re in an education program that requires you to give your unpaid labor regardless of your interest in entering into a volunteer relationship, and you need a specific kind of info from me to help you with that, let me know.
  • How many hours do you need?
    • We estimate we have over 200 hours of this sort of data cleaning work to do to make some of the rich interactive content we think would be most useful to future project users.
    • Just tell me on Friday how many hours you would like to volunteer in the coming week and I’ll send you the appropriate amount of work.
  • I’m a child or a parent with an interested child. Can they volunteer?
    • Because of the high level of confidentiality demanded, they can only volunteer to extract audio clips from interview excerpts. Get in touch and if this is a direction we have the labor to prepare, we can support them in gaining solid audio editing skills.
  • What software will I use and do I need to own it?
    • For all software needed, STLS will cover licensing for you
    • Audio- pick the software you’d more like to learn: Audacity or Audition
    • For transcripts – Trint (a web-based transcription service) & MS Word
    • Code transfers – Atlas.ti (a QDA software) & MS Word
  • Will you vouch for me?
    • Yes! I’ll track the time you tell me you volunteered in the previous week and then when you’re all done I’ll give you a letter thanking you for your service with the relevant details.

More questions? Email Margo at

Know you want to help out? Fill out this application form: 

Once I receive your form and we chat, you’ll need to sign a confidentiality and ethical practice agreement. And then we’re off! You’ll get access to the software, with some scheduling parameters, and some data to clean based on your interest and availability.

To learn more about the project, you can always drop by

We’re committed to transparency and open access.

Through each phase of this project, the data generated, methods used, and resulting analysis are all stored in the Rural Library Service project in Open Science Framework. There you’ll find our initial quantitative data analysis on library service in resource poor geographiesinterview methodologies, the pre-print of our primary paper and more.