Michael is a doctoral candidate in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2012, he completed a Master of Science in Library Science degree from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Prior to that, in 2005, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colby College, a small liberal arts school. There, he studied a variety of subjects, including philosophy, biology, Japanese, Chinese, art, anthropology, literature, and history. He received PK-12 teaching licensure from the Pennsylvania Department of Education in 2013.

From 2010 to the present, Michael has taught or co-taught library science courses at the Master’s level in both online and face-to-face contexts. Courses taught include collection development, legal issues in library services, information ethics, academic libraries, foundations of information, and management. He has served as a lead instructor in the management course at Pittsburgh for the past three years.

In addition to his teaching experience at the graduate level, Michael has professional experience as a public librarian. He worked for three years as an adult services librarian in a small public library where his responsibilities included selection and acquisition, cataloging, reference, preservation, genealogy, grant-writing, and program planning. He has also worked as a writing consultant, he has volunteered as a literacy coach for inmates, and for five years he lived and worked in Wakayama, Japan where he taught English as a second language to elementary and middle school students.

Michael currently resides in the Pittsburgh area.


Michael’s scholarly output can be classed into several research streams. The first is an examination of how the public sphere relates to libraries. This research interest began as a collaboration with Masanori Koizumi from the University of Tsukuba. It is an area that operates within several fields, including business, political science, communication, and history. Selected publications from this research area are below:

  • Widdersheim, M. M., & Koizumi, M. (2017). A communication system approach to the problem of public library legitimacy. Library & Information Science Research, 39(1), 23–33.
  • Widdersheim, M. M. (2016). Late, lost, or renewed? A search for the public sphere in public libraries. Paper presented at Conceptions of Library and Information Science (CoLIS 9). Uppsala, Sweden, June 27–29.
  • Koizumi, M., & Widdersheim, M. M. (2016). Surpassing the business model: A public sphere approach to public library management. Library Review 65(6/7), 404–419.
  • Widdersheim, M. M., & Koizumi, M. (2016) Conceptual modelling of the public sphere in public libraries. Journal of Documentation, 72(3), 591–610.
  • Widdersheim, M. M. (2015). Governance, legitimation, commons: A public sphere framework and research agenda for the public library sector. Libri, 65(4), 237–245.

A second research stream is a critical reflection on e-books and e-reading devices. Selected publications from this area are here:

A third area of research interest is gender and sexuality as they relate to information services. The publications in this research stream were collaborations with Melissa McCleary, a professional young adult services librarian:

  • Widdersheim, M. M., & McCleary, M. A. (2016). Gender and sexuality, self-identity, and libraries: Readers’ advisory as a technique for creative (dis)assembly. Library Trends, 64(4), 714–740.
  • Widdersheim, M. M., & McCleary, M. A. (2014). Reading gender in children’s literature: Critical library pedagogy for young readers. Paper presented at Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies Colloquium, Toronto, ON.
  • McCleary, M. A., & Widdersheim, M. M. (2014). The princess and the poor self-image: An analysis of twenty-first century Newbery Medal winners for gender bias and female underrepresentation. Pennsylvania Libraries: Research and Practice, 2(1), 6–26. doi:

And a fourth research area is a critical reflection of library services in schools. These studies were funded through competitive research grants:

  • Widdersheim, M. M., & Widdersheim, R. A. (2014) The state of cataloging in northwestern Pennsylvania secondary school libraries. Current Studies in Librarianship, 32(1), 61–90.
  • Widdersheim, M. M. (2013). Policies, practices, and perceptions of Accelerated Reader in northwestern Pennsylvania primary school libraries. Poster presented at the Clarion University Undergraduate Research Seminar.
  • Widdersheim, M. M., & Gardner, C. (2012). Caring for cats: Taming librarians’ feral friends, catalogs. Paper presented at the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Annual Conference, Hershey, PA.

For a full list of Michael’s publications, please see his CV.


Michael’s dissertation project is titled Libraries and the circulation of power: A historical case study of Pittsburgh, 1924-2016. The work develops new social-political concepts—circuits and tessellations—and uses them to understand why a regional library infrastructure in Pittsburgh evolved as it did.

The dissertation project makes several intellectual contributions:

  • Innovative design: historical case study, a new research strategy, is defined and modelled.
  • Conceptual refinement: Habermas’s Machtkreislauf model is tested and modified in light of source materials.
  • Case excavation: the first complete historical account of a regional library system in Pittsburgh is presented.
  • Theory development: a fresh paradigm and new theoretical approaches are introduced to the library studies field.


Have a look at Michael's CV and feel free to reach out to him if you think he'd be a good fit for an opportunity.