Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





David Chapin

Committee Members

Cindi Katz

Polly Thistlethwaite

Maxine Wolfe

Karen R. Diller

Subject Categories

Environmental Design | Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Library and Information Science | Other Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Environmental Psychology; Environmental Autobiography; Design Psychology; Toby Israel; Narrative Research; Library Narratives


Environmental Autobiography as a research method of Environmental Psychology and Design Psychology informs this study of the meaning and experiences of libraries described by six library-building design practitioners. Participants were guided through an adaptation of Toby Israel’s (2010) Design Psychology Toolbox (hereafter known as the DPT or the “Toolbox”) exercises. The research is intended to expand the practice of designing libraries as places and spaces where social and emotional affordance is supported. Emphasizing the significance of libraries as place and space where people often have rich and even transformative experiences serves to augment use-efficiency and evidence-based space planning. Primary goals of the study included providing an opportunity for library-building and design practitioners to tap into their own environmental autobiographies to explore how experience creates meaning in the environments of our lives, and to explore how personal narratives in the form of library stories hold rich information about place and space. As part of this research, participants were encouraged to consider which aspects of the DPT exercises they might incorporate into future client intake exchanges and explorations for proposed library-building programs. This dissertation describes a mixed method approach inherent in environmental autobiography research where both in-depth interviewing as well as sketching and mapping are employed as participants recall their past, explore their present, and imagine their future in describing the significance of libraries over their life course.