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Conference Proceeding

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Objective: By collecting and analyzing evidence from three data points, researchers will understand how library spaces are used. Results will be used for evidence-based decision-making regarding library physical spaces.

Methods: Undergraduate researchers, sociology faculty, and librarians used mixed-methods to triangulate findings. Seating sweeps were used to map patrons’ activities in the library. Student-led focus groups discussed patterns of library use, impressions of facilities, and library features and services. The final step will be a campus survey developed from seating sweeps and focus group findings.

Results: Seating sweeps showed consistent use of the Library's main level Learning Commons and upper level quiet spaces; the library’s multipurpose lower level is under-utilized. Students use the main level of the library for collaborative learning, socializing, reading, and computer use. Students use the upper level for quiet study and group work in study rooms. Focus group findings found library use is task-specific. For example, a student may work with classmates on a project using the main level Learning Commons during the day, and then come back at night to use the quiet floor for test preparation. Participants shared additional spaces on campus they use for study and the characteristics of those locations.

Conclusion: These data offer empirical evidence for library space needs. Some data aligns with previous space studies: access to power outlets, lighting, noise, and outdated environment. New concerns included: crowding, graduate students lacking designated study space, and needing quiet study space away from group study space. Data from seating sweeps and focus groups will be used to create a campus survey to capture other information related to library use and space needs. Survey findings will offer a richer understanding of how the library is viewed and used by all of campus.


Presented at the 9th International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP) Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 19, 2017.

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