Month: May 2014

Students these days, part I

student working 4093135203_5908c952b2_oThis is a post about how, over a very short period of time and with no money, I successfully used a survey and some ethnographic techniques to sharpen the discussion about the users of my library. Part I of the post covers just the survey and Part II, to be published next week, will cover the ethnographic methods.

For better or worse, we carry around a lot of assumptions about our users, many of which are so commonplace, we almost stop thinking about them. One that I hear all the time is that ‘students these days come to university with multiple computing devices’ (i.e. laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc.). Lots do, but do all? What are the implications if we start to design library services using an assumption like this?

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So, you want to study people? Ethics and library ethnography

girl with magnifying glassLibrary ethnography is a relatively low-risk field. We are, as researchers, observing public behavior in public spaces, and asking people about what they do in the pursuit of their academic goals. However, people’s lives are not always easily compartmentalized into public and private, academic/professional and personal, and there is a lot of grey area wherein private events in personal lives can have a huge impact on someone’s public/professional/academic behavior and choices.

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