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Demystifying Ethnography: Exploring Student Use of Library Spaces

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This presentation was given at the Minnesota Library Association 2010 Annual Conference by Julie Gilbert, Amy Gratz, Anna Hulseberg, and Sarah Monson. Please note that all images are copyright to the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library at Gustavus Adolphus College, with the exception of images on slide 37 (Image Association). These images are creative commons licensed and belong to their respective creators: Dalboz17, chris5aw, jisc_infonet, and Christopher Chan.

Publicado en: Educación

Demystifying Ethnography: Exploring Student Use of Library Spaces

  1. 1. Demystifying Ethnography: Exploring Student Use of Library Spaces<br />MLA 2010 Annual Conference<br />Julie Gilbert, Amy Gratz, <br />Anna Hulseberg, and Sarah Monson<br />
  2. 2. Session OVERVIEW<br />Study: how students use library space<br />Why ethnography?<br />What we wanted to learn<br />How we gathered data: multiple methods<br />What did we learn, and what’s next?<br />You as library ethnographer<br />
  3. 3. Library as physical and virtual space<br />
  4. 4. Why Ethnography?<br />What exactly is an ethnographic approach?<br />Emphasis on qualitative<br />Use of multiple methods <br />Interviews, surveys & focus groups<br />Participant observation<br />Holistic<br />Inductive <br />
  5. 5. Ethnography and Libraries<br />Previous studies<br />Foster and Gibbons, Studying Students: The Undergraduate Research Project at the University of Rochester<br />Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries (ERIAL) Project <br />Ethnographic objectives<br />Elicit student-focused data<br />Understand and accommodate academic needs<br />
  6. 6. Our Research Questions<br />How do students make use of existing library spaces and services, both physical and virtual? <br />What improvements could the library make to better meet the needs of students?<br />
  7. 7. Methods<br />Survey<br />Semi-structured Interviews<br />Linguistic Listing<br />Mapping<br />Photo Diaries<br />Image Association<br />Focus Groups<br />
  8. 8. Managing the Research Process<br />Research team<br />Library staff and students<br />Varied skill set<br />Project plan<br />Responsibilities and deadlines<br />Communicating with library staff<br />Planning ahead (data analysis, implementing changes)<br />Funding<br />Departmental mini-grant<br />
  9. 9. Recruiting Participants<br />Communication<br />E-mail invitations<br />Table tents<br />Posters<br />Blog<br />Incentives<br />Library VIP room<br />Print vouchers<br />
  10. 10. Survey<br />Starting with a Broad Base<br />
  11. 11. Survey<br /><ul><li>Surveyed students about use of library’s physical and virtual spaces
  12. 12. Quantitative and qualitative questions
  13. 13. Mainly open-ended questions
  14. 14. Survey affected design and recruitment for subsequent activities</li></li></ul><li>Survey: physical space<br />
  15. 15. Survey: virtual space<br />
  16. 16. Interviews<br />In Students’ Own Words<br />
  17. 17. Interviews <br />Semi-structured format<br />Focused, open-ended questions<br />Recording and transcription<br />Student interviewer - Lindell scholar<br />
  18. 18. Examples of Interview Questions<br />Basic Questions<br />What is your major?<br />How often do you use the library? <br />At what times do you use the library? <br />Why do you use the library? <br />Physical Space Questions<br />Where is your preferred space in the library (1st, 2nd, 3rd floor)? <br />Do you use the library for individual study? Where do you place yourself? <br />Do you use the library for group study? Where do you place yourself? <br />
  19. 19. Linguistic Listing<br />Learning the Students’ Language<br />
  20. 20. What is Linguistic Listing?<br />Listing words or phrases that belong to a particular category<br />Example: What comes to mind when you hear the word “library?” <br />Such as: Books, Study, Information<br />Responses to open-ended questions<br />What is your favorite space in the library? Why?<br />
  21. 21. Why Linguistic Listing?<br />Used to elicit concepts and perceptions in people’s (library users’) own words<br />Example: “circulation desk” v. “front desk”<br />Used to measure consensus among words and categories<br />Is the word “periodicals” associated with “journals?”<br />
  22. 22.
  23. 23. Mapping<br />Where do Students go in the Library?<br />
  24. 24. Mapping<br />What?<br />1 week, 5 mappers, 3 times a day, 3 floors<br />Mapped exact location and number of students in a given space<br />Why?<br />To find out which spaces are used, when they are used, and which spaces are not used<br />Compare findings with survey responses<br />
  25. 25. 2nd Floor, 10am<br />
  26. 26. 2nd Floor, 3pm<br />
  27. 27. Compilation Map – 2nd Floor<br />
  28. 28. Photo Diaries<br />Around the Library<br />
  29. 29. Photo Diaries<br />Show us how students view and use the library space and resources<br />Photos can show us more than the students say<br />Designed to deepen the knowledge gained through earlier methods<br />Photo prompts selected based on questions asked in survey and linguistic listing <br />Most prompts designed to help us learn why students use the library in addition to what they do here<br />
  30. 30. Photo Diary Prompts<br />Your favorite place <br />Your least favorite place <br />Something you can’t imagine the library without <br />Something you don’t think should be here<br />Your preferred solo study space <br />Your preferred group study space<br />What your study space looks like when you’re working<br />Your most common destination<br />Something you’ll miss when you graduate <br />Something you want to change in the library<br />A picture to show to a “prospy”<br />Someplace you’ve never been before <br />A place in the library where you feel lost<br />Where you ask questions<br />Library activity<br />Something unique (to our library) <br />Something you want more of<br />Most popular space <br />Least popular space<br />The computer you use most often in the library, showing its surroundings<br />Your favorite search tool<br />A resource you rarely use <br />Something you have a question about <br />Why you come to the library<br />
  31. 31. 7.What your study space looks like when you're working: <br />What does this photo say about you?<br />“Like to have everything in front of me.”<br />
  32. 32. 13. A place in the library where you feel lost: <br />What do you think we could change to help you?<br />“Occasionally the reference section seems daunting”<br />
  33. 33. 14. Where do you ask questions? <br />What sort of questions do you ask here? Why here (over another location)?<br />“I ask questions at the reference desk when I need help. If I can’t find something or need a book behind them as well as with citations for papers. I go here because they tend to know the most.”<br />
  34. 34. 1.Your favorite place : <br />What do you like about this space?<br />“I love [the] comfy chairs facing the windows of the 2nd floor of the library because the chairs are comfortable, there are still tables to place necessary caffeinated beverages and if you need a distraction from studying, you can look at the great scenery.”<br />
  35. 35. Image Association<br />The Ideal Library<br />
  36. 36. Image Association<br />Designed to elicit how students envision an ideal library<br />Prior methods had focused on use of the current space<br />Used Flickr® as a platform<br />Created an account students shared to create galleries of their ideal library<br />Asked the students to include comments explaining why they chose specific images<br />
  37. 37. Image Association Prompt<br />Create a collection of images depicting your ideal library. Think about what you do, or would like to do, in the library, and find images that look or feel the same to you. <br />Be as creative as you want – your ideal library doesn’t need to look anything like the current library. The sky is the limit!<br />
  38. 38.
  39. 39. For more see:<br />
  40. 40. Web Focus Groups<br />Students in the Virtual Space<br />
  41. 41. Web Focus Group 1<br />Brainstorming exercise: <br />What do you want to see on a library homepage?<br />
  42. 42. Web Focus Group 1<br />Brainstorming exercise: <br />What do you like / not like about the current library homepage?<br />
  43. 43. Ideal Website Mock-up<br />Main exercise: Design your ideal library homepage from scratch<br />
  44. 44. Web Focus Group 2<br />Brainstorming exercise:<br />What was new to you when you started college? <br />
  45. 45. Web Focus Group 2<br />Brainstorming exercise:<br />Tell us about a recent research project & what sources you used? <br />
  46. 46. Web Focus Group 2<br />Main exercise: Create a guide for incoming first-year students about how to use the library website for research.<br />“Depending on the requirements you may need to use different types of sources such as books or articles or websites so try to use a variety in your papers”<br />“Within each database think of the overall assignment and purpose of the paper and come up with specific words to use in your search”<br />
  47. 47. How Did We Analyze All This Data?<br />Very carefully!<br />
  48. 48. Data Analysis<br />Overall patterns & themes<br />SPSS for Surveys & Photo Diaries<br />Quantitative analysis<br />Coding schema<br />Frequency tables & cross tabulations<br />Debriefing with student academic assistants<br />Focus groups & Interviews<br />Photos, videos, transcriptions<br />Research retreat – discuss data as a whole<br />
  49. 49. Findings<br />Students want natural light, more tables, more private study areas, more group study areas, a café, and better tools to navigate the library<br />Students want a website that is visually appealing, dynamic, simple, and well-organized<br />
  50. 50. Action Plan<br />Recommendations to library committees<br />Website task force<br />Ongoing data analysis<br />Implement changes<br />Evaluate<br />
  51. 51. Activity<br />You as library ethnographer<br />
  52. 52. Part 1: Current Knowledge<br />What do you already know about how patrons use your library’s physical and virtual spaces?<br />How do you know this? What evidence do you have?<br />
  53. 53. Part 2: Research Questions<br />Scenario: Your library receives a grant to hire an ethnographer to study your patrons’ use of your library’s physical and virtual space over the course of a year.<br />What would you like to explore about use of your library’s space?<br />What would your primary research questions be?<br />
  54. 54. Part 3: Methods<br />How are you going to find the answers to your research questions?<br />Pick one of your research questions and design a specific method you might use.<br />
  55. 55. Interested in doing a similar study? <br />Here are some recommendations:<br />Use student researchers/focus group leaders<br />Be well organized but be prepared to adapt!<br />Be creative – things don’t always go as planned<br />Project Plan(s)<br />Recruitment – start early!<br />
  56. 56. Thank you!<br />Questions?<br />