People often ask me about space and its importance in the electronic world of libraries, so here’s an interesting and useful study:
The Library Space as Learning Space
by Keith Webster in Educause Review
The University of Queensland Library, a major research library in Australia, sought to understand the changes in student behaviours in the library space
“1. Most respondents visited the library to undertake individual study-related activities, and they accomplished this.
2. Respondents also visited the library to undertake social or group learning activities.
3. In all but a few instances, respondents did less of what they had intended to do.
4. In all but a few instances, respondents did more “other” things than they had intended to do.
5. Most respondents chose to work in the library because it is conveniently located and provides good study spaces.
6. All respondents put location, atmosphere, study space, and finding what they need above social reasons (e.g., group meetings for visiting the library.
7. Most respondents visited the library after they had been at home or at a class.
8. Most respondents planned to stay in the library for between thirty minutes and two hours.
9. Respondents were regular library visitors.
10. Students spent most of their time in the library using computers and quiet study spaces.
11. Students also used e-mail, the Internet, and Facebook, met and chatted with friends, ate, and borrowed books.
12. Students wanted the library to provide more computers and more quiet areas.”
13. “Almost 60 percent visit a library each day, with around half spending between thirty minutes and two hours and almost a quarter spending more than two hours in the library.”
14. “For group work, students sought access to bookable group rooms with plasma screens and data projectors, coupled with other technology to foster collaboration. They also wanted wireless networks, extensive access to electric sockets, presentation rehearsal facilities, and recording services. For individual work, students requested enclosed sound-proof rooms with lockable facilities so that they can store computers, notes, and other materials when they need to take a brief break. When preparing for exams, students wanted similar spaces, but enhanced by break-out areas with soft furnishings, couches, coffee, and fresh air.”
15. “Students are heavy consumers of online information resources: electronic journals, databases, and e-books. But they value the library as a place—somewhere that offers an academic ambience for their work, a forum for engagement with others, and a flexible space that meets their shifting needs during the cycle of the semester.”
So read the report and get some more insights if you’re interested in what these students demand of their spaces. The study looks like it can be easily replicated for your academic library space.