What Are They Doing Anyway?: Library as Place and Student Use of a University Library

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Objective - To determine student use of library spaces, the authors recorded student location and behaviors within the Library, to inform future space design.

Methods - The case study method was used with both quantitative and qualitative measures. The authors had two objectives to guide this assessment of library spaces: 1) To determine what library spaces are being used by students and whether students are working individually, communally, or collaboratively and 2) To determine whether students use these spaces for learning activities and/or social engagement.

Results - After data collection and analysis, the authors determined students are using individual or communal spaces almost equally as compared with collaborative group spaces. Data also revealed peak area usage and times.

Conclusion - Observed student individual and social work habits indicate further need for spaces with ample electrical outlets and moveable tables. Further study is recommended to see whether additional seating and renovated spaces continue to enhance informal learning communities at URI and whether the Library is becoming a “third place” on campus.

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