Successful projects to redesign academic library services, resources, or facilities often begin by gathering data on user needs and preferences. While quantitative methods such as questionnaires are frequently employed to survey patrons about their library use, qualitative research offers additional insights into user behaviors. Qualitative methods, including ethnography, uncover more than what participants do in the library; they reveal how patrons find meaning in their experiences there. Through interviews, photo surveys, and time-tracking studies we can see and hear what students and faculty experience as they use the library. This poster will share methods, results, and recommendations from a recent ethnographic study of library use at New York City College of Technology and Brooklyn College, CUNY. We will highlight the ways that qualitative studies can inform and enlighten us about our users and help to guide the design process in all areas of the library.
Regalado, M., and Smale, M. A. (2010, December). On beyond surveys! Using ethnographic methods to inform design in academic libraries. Poster presented at the ACRL/NY Annual Symposium, New York, NY.