Using and Experiencing the Academic Library: A Multisite Observational Study of Space and Place

Francine May, Alice Swabey


This study examines how students are using academic library spaces and the role these spaces are playing in the campus community. Data were collected on five campuses (two community colleges, two undergraduate universities, and one technical institute) via observational seating sweeps and questionnaires. The study found remarkably similar usage patterns across all library types. Academic pursuits remain the most common activities, despite perceptions of the modern library as a social space. The library as a place to study is shown to be a complex topic, with noise, need, and personal preference influencing experience. The research provides libraries with evidence to demonstrate their support of student learning and engagement within their institutions.

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Copyright ©2015 Francine May and Alice Swabey, Attribution-NonCommercial ( CC BY-NC.

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