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LEARNING AND USAGE BEHAVIOUR IN TWO HIGHER EDUCATION LIBRARIES: HOW STUDENTS USE LIBRARIES AND HOW DESIGN INFLUENCES THEIR BEHAVIOUR, A CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHY-BASED APPROACH

Ramsden, Bryony J. (2018) LEARNING AND USAGE BEHAVIOUR IN TWO HIGHER EDUCATION LIBRARIES: HOW STUDENTS USE LIBRARIES AND HOW DESIGN INFLUENCES THEIR BEHAVIOUR, A CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHY-BASED APPROACH. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Abstract

User behaviour in academic library spaces is an under researched topic in the UK, and that research which has been undertaken is predominantly based on quantitative research. There is still little understanding of use or behaviours that manifest within Higher Education (HE) library spaces, or of the way staff interpret use and behaviours. There is also little discussion of how much the design of the library influences use and behaviour, thus whether or not the library spaces are inclusive of a broad range of users. This thesis represents qualitative research addressing this gap.

Using a critical ethnographic based approach influenced by Feminist Standpoint Theory, observations and semi-structured interviews were carried out at two HE institutions across a period of two academic years over 2013-14 and 2014-15. The overarching research aim was to discover whether academic libraries provide a supportive and inclusive learning environment. This led to the following research questions:

How do students behave in and use academic libraries?
- What do students do when they visit the library?
- How do students interact with each other when they are in the library? Do they support or disrupt each other’s’ activities?
- How do students interact with staff in the library? When in a study space, do students interact with staff to gain support/guidance in their library use, or are staff members seen primarily as rule enforcers?

What impact does design have on use and perceptions of use?
- When students use academic library spaces, does the design of the space help or hinder their chosen use?
- Do students conform to the intended purpose of a space? If not, is the non-conformity of benefit or problematic to other users?

How do staff understand and interpret the way students use the spaces in the library, and do they try to modify student behaviour as a result of that interpretation of use? Does modification of behaviour impact on:
- The student-staff relationship (will students refer to staff for help or feel discouraged from doing so?)
- The ways students use or situate themselves in spaces (is their use modified to match staff requirements or does it differ from staff expectations? Does modification of behaviour by staff impede the levels of students’ productivity and learning?)

Do differing perceptions of appropriate use create inequalities between students, and between students and staff?

Addressing the research aim and these questions offers a better understanding of how academic libraries can be used and,in some cases,manipulated to the benefit and detriment of different library users. Thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006)was used to draw out themes of patterns of use (groups and individual) and how they could be gendered in representation of power over other users and the space itself.Themes also indicated discrimination.

There are a number of key findings from the research. There are several groups of people for whom the library is important or essential: in particular, people who attend university under the Widening Participation bracket, including mature students (usually female) returning to studying,need library space and technology because of lack of resources at home. The spaces studied are designed to be supportive of a number of study activities, but often also encouraged or allowed exclusive disruptive behaviours to manifest. There are incidents of some staff racializing behaviour at one institute in the study, whether consciously/intentionally or not, primarily influenced by problematic behaviours regularly requiring policing. Staff interpretations of larger group use (i.e. more than six to seven group members) in the library were also racialized. I conclude that the library is both inclusive and exclusive via behaviours of its users, through space design, and through staff interpretations of use.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z719 Libraries (General)
Schools: School of Education and Professional Development
Depositing User: Rebecca Hill
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2019 10:52
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2019 11:00
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/34834

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