Use of collaborative spaces in an academic library
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With the design of new libraries increasingly emphasizing support for collaborative activity, librarians need to understand how and why their users are working together in library spaces. No published studies quantify the impact of collaborative spaces in academic libraries on student learning behaviors. The objective of this study was to determine how and why the collaborative spaces in an academic library were used, and how well the observed use matched the intent of the people who designed and managed the spaces. The study was conducted in the Fall of 2005 at a recently built academic library in New England that was designed with over 70% of seating allocated for collaborative use. The primary data collection methods were observation and interviews. Observation sessions were conducted using a sweeps methodology. Approximately 20% of the observed users were interviewed. Undergraduate students made up 95% of the observed population and third year students were the most frequently observed class. Seventy nine percent of those interviewed visited the library two or more times per week. The mean length of visit for those interviewed was 3.9 hours. Students estimated that 55% of their non-classroom study took place in the library. Seventy-one percent of the users were in groups. Sixty-three percent of people in groups were actively working together. There were significant variations in patterns of space utilization by time of day and between different seating clusters. There were significant variations in the spaces that different types of groups selected to work in. New construction and renovations of academic libraries in recent years have created new kinds of user spaces that support collaborative work and learning. This study demonstrated that this library’s collaborative spaces are being used to support both curriculum-initiated and student-driven collaborative learning, and that the library’s collaborative spaces are the primary location for this activity on the campus. The collaborative spaces at the study site were heavily used and highly valued by the people who used them. Students view these spaces as essential infrastructure to support project work. The library is viewed by those who use it as a key resource to support their learning, and this perception is supported by frequency of visitation and time spent in the facility.
Silver, H. (2007). Use of collaborative spaces in an a
library buildings, collaborative space, group study, observational research, seating behavior
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