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What Actually Happens:
An Ethnographic Investigation
of Student Library Use
Kimberly Mullins, LIU Post, New York
Natasha T...
Research Team
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS - BROOKLYN
Katherine Boss
Valeda Dent
Charles Guarria
Rachel King
Paula Patiño
Susan Th...
Background
Our University
Ethnographic Research
● The study of a culture to improve one’s understanding of it
● Investigates few cases but in thorou...
Why?
● Examine our local culture of student research habits
● Provide need-based services
● Make ethnography a consistent ...
Previous Major Studies
● University of Rochester “Studying Students” Project
http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=23...
Our Study
Summer 2012 IRB approval received
Fall 2012 Survey distributed
Spring 2013 Observations conducted
Spring 2013 In...
Methods
Survey
● Fifty-one questions on technology
use, library use, study habits, and
technology integration
● Administered Fall ...
Sample Survey Questions
“Have you had any library instruction while at Long island
University?”
“How often did you use the...
Observations
● 32 hours of unobtrusive observations in the Post and
Brooklyn Libraries
● Recorded field notes
● Recorded i...
Observation Sheet
Interviews
● Conducted 30 one-hour semi-structured interviews
● Included “show me” questions
● Videotaped and professional...
Sample Interview Questions
“When you get an assignment for a class, what is the very first
thing you do?”
“Do you seek hel...
Sample Transcript
Data Analysis
Survey
● Quantitatively analysed closed-ended questions using
proprietary survey software
● Performed content analysis for...
Interviews & Observations
● Developed codebook with 400+ codes at question, unit, and
thematic levels
● Six codebook itera...
A Snapshot from the Codebook
Findings
Survey
● 75% of students received some type of instruction on how
to utilize the Library and its resources
● 60% of studen...
Observations
● Going & coming; leaving personal items
● “Cocooning”
● Multitasking supported by tech
● Seated in groups bu...
Interviews
● Students go to peers and instructors first for research
questions; embarrassed to approach librarians
● Creat...
Changes Made
Instruction
● At one campus, basic library instruction and an
information literacy exam were integrated within the first
s...
Technology Use
● New digital services, such as a Library App for mobile
devices and Skype research appointments, were deve...
Spaces
● Both libraries underwent renovations that include
additional group study areas and natural light
● A “lounge envi...
Brooklyn Library Renovations
Brooklyn Library Renovations
Contact Us
Kimberly.Mullins@liu.edu
Natalia.Tomlin@liu.edu
Eamon.Tewell@liu.edu
@EamonTewell
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What actually happens: an ethnographic investigation of student library use - Eamon Tewell, Natalia Tomlin & Kim Mullins

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What actually happens: an ethnographic investigation of student library use - Eamon Tewell, Natalia Tomlin & Kim Mullins

  1. 1. What Actually Happens: An Ethnographic Investigation of Student Library Use Kimberly Mullins, LIU Post, New York Natasha Tomlin, LIU Post, New York Eamon Tewell, LIU Brooklyn, New York
  2. 2. Research Team LIST OF PARTICIPANTS - BROOKLYN Katherine Boss Valeda Dent Charles Guarria Rachel King Paula Patiño Susan Thomas Ingrid Wang Gloria Willson LIST OF PARTICIPANTS - POST Mary Kate Boyd-Byrnes Kathleen Burlingame Thomas Dillman Mellissa Hinton Kimberly Mullins Eduardo Rivera Derek Stadler Natalia Tomlin ETHNOGRAPHIC CODING TEAM MEMBERS Valeda Dent Edward Keane Kimberly Mullins Paula Patiño Bhavya Teja Kolla Eamon Tewell Natasha Tomlin
  3. 3. Background
  4. 4. Our University
  5. 5. Ethnographic Research ● The study of a culture to improve one’s understanding of it ● Investigates few cases but in thorough detail ● Qualitative methods, rooted in anthropology: participant observation, interviews, Photovoice, etc. ● Time intensive
  6. 6. Why? ● Examine our local culture of student research habits ● Provide need-based services ● Make ethnography a consistent and ongoing practice
  7. 7. Previous Major Studies ● University of Rochester “Studying Students” Project http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=2322 ● Rutgers Ethnographic Research Project http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/staff/groups/ethnography/reports. shtml ● University of Illinois ERIAL Project http://www.erialproject.org ● CUNY Undergraduate Scholarly Habits Ethnography Project https://ushep.commons.gc.cuny.edu
  8. 8. Our Study Summer 2012 IRB approval received Fall 2012 Survey distributed Spring 2013 Observations conducted Spring 2013 Interviews conducted Spring 2014 Coding process started Spring 2016 Coding process completed
  9. 9. Methods
  10. 10. Survey ● Fifty-one questions on technology use, library use, study habits, and technology integration ● Administered Fall 2012 ● 1100+ responses ● Used survey data to create interview questions
  11. 11. Sample Survey Questions “Have you had any library instruction while at Long island University?” “How often did you use the Libraries’ website last week?” “Would you use text messaging to get an answer to a reference or research question from the LIU Libraries?”
  12. 12. Observations ● 32 hours of unobtrusive observations in the Post and Brooklyn Libraries ● Recorded field notes ● Recorded interpretations ● Used observational data to create interview questions
  13. 13. Observation Sheet
  14. 14. Interviews ● Conducted 30 one-hour semi-structured interviews ● Included “show me” questions ● Videotaped and professionally transcribed audio
  15. 15. Sample Interview Questions “When you get an assignment for a class, what is the very first thing you do?” “Do you seek help from library personnel?” “When you study in the library, do you prefer to be around other students, or have more of your own personal space?”
  16. 16. Sample Transcript
  17. 17. Data Analysis
  18. 18. Survey ● Quantitatively analysed closed-ended questions using proprietary survey software ● Performed content analysis for open-ended questions ● Statistically analyzed data using SPSS ver. 23
  19. 19. Interviews & Observations ● Developed codebook with 400+ codes at question, unit, and thematic levels ● Six codebook iterations ● Two year coding effort using cross-campus coding team ● Averaged 82% inter-coder agreement ● Used library staff and graduate student for data entry
  20. 20. A Snapshot from the Codebook
  21. 21. Findings
  22. 22. Survey ● 75% of students received some type of instruction on how to utilize the Library and its resources ● 60% of students use the Libraries’ website between 1 and 4 times per week ● Students use Google and the Libraries’ databases equally to complete their work ● Majority of students were not taking advantage of University iPad program
  23. 23. Observations ● Going & coming; leaving personal items ● “Cocooning” ● Multitasking supported by tech ● Seated in groups but working individually ● Headphones for music or to signal need for uninterruption
  24. 24. Interviews ● Students go to peers and instructors first for research questions; embarrassed to approach librarians ● Creation of study materials using flash card apps or compiling materials in iBooks app ● Need for more comfortable spaces and extended library hours
  25. 25. Changes Made
  26. 26. Instruction ● At one campus, basic library instruction and an information literacy exam were integrated within the first semester curriculum ● Librarians became involved in Learning Communities to communicate directly with students early in their academic careers
  27. 27. Technology Use ● New digital services, such as a Library App for mobile devices and Skype research appointments, were developed ● Added PC and Mac workstations ● iPad program was dissolved
  28. 28. Spaces ● Both libraries underwent renovations that include additional group study areas and natural light ● A “lounge environment” and group tables were added ● “Genius Bar” workspace was implemented
  29. 29. Brooklyn Library Renovations
  30. 30. Brooklyn Library Renovations
  31. 31. Contact Us Kimberly.Mullins@liu.edu Natalia.Tomlin@liu.edu Eamon.Tewell@liu.edu @EamonTewell

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