Seeing Through the Eyes of Students: Participant Observation in an Academic Library
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Participant observation of study spaces in the Killam Memorial Library at Dalhousie University revealed significant insight into the study behaviors of individual students and groups, the impact of building design on these behaviors, and the research methodology itself. The effect of unintentional panoptical design (on adherence to quiet study rules) and ambient noise (on productivity and popularity of spaces) were both observed, as were the blending of social and academic activities and the choices of students to work individually and collaboratively within a community environment rather than in solitude. As an ethnographic methodology, participant observation is rarely conducted in library spaces. This study proves the value of this methodology when students observe fellow students. Their complete membership in the culture under observation permits unobtrusive access and a richness of collected data that is enhanced by observer insight into student life. ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]; Copyright of Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library & Information Practice & Research is the property of Ontario Library Association and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)
Bedwell, Linda, and Caitlin Banks. 2013. "Seeing Through the Eyes of Students: Participant Observation in an Academic Library." Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library & Information Practice & Research 8(1): 1-17.