Library Represented at International Conference

Natalie Bulick and Susan Frey recently presented a scientific poster, An ethnography of student behavior in secluded and open spaces: Preliminary findings and implications for library space planning, at the 2019 International Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries conference (QQML). 

Attendees assembling for the Opening Ceremony of QQML 2019, held in what had been the monks’ refectory (dining room) of the Badia Fiesolana (EUI)

Natalie and Susan’s poster can be viewed at ISU’s Sycamore Scholars. 

Abstract: The design of physical space in academic libraries has become an increasingly important focus of concern in serving the diverse needs of contemporary student populations. Responding to trends that shift the focus of library space away from collections-centered to more user-centered design, many are exploring ways of creating a better library user experience. To achieve this aim, valuable research has been conducted by directly asking students to articulate their wants and needs via surveys, and in some cases, interviews. However, little research has been devoted to the systematic field observation of how students’ use library spaces. Even less of this research has synthesized data findings with robust theoretical frameworks. This poster details the preliminary findings of an ethnographic study at a four-year, public university. Researchers designed a protocol to observe students in freely available secluded and non-secluded library spaces to examine behavior, communication, and social interaction within the context of proxemics theory. The anthropological study of proxemics is useful in evaluating how people behave within immediate organizations of space, and has been successfully applied to the design of public and semi-public spaces. Attendees will learn of study findings, and how these data can be applied to practical applications such as furniture composition and layout, lighting, and general space planning. Also addressed are details of the next phase of this study. Keywords: Space/Buildings; Organizational Change; Proxemics [from page 189 of the conference proceedings.

View of Florence from a second story window of the EUI. If you look carefully you can see the Duomo on the left

QQML, a division of the nonprofit International Society for the Advancement of Science and Technology, promotes the theory and practice of research in libraries, museums, and archives.  This year the European University Institute (EUI) in Italy hosted the conference.  The EUI is an international postgraduate and post-doctoral teaching and research institution established by the European Union (EU) and serves as the official archive of the EU.

                            One of several rooms exhibiting the conference posters

It is located at the Badia Fiesolana complex, a former monastery established in the 10th century and situated on the Tuscan hillside overlooking the city of Florence (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-bFgcQLhPU).

For this year’s conference over 300 social scientists and librarians from 62 countries assembled at the EUI for 5 days to discuss topics related to information culture and science. The QQML conference is hosted in a different country every year. The official language of the QQML is English.

The old monks’ cloister, which was used by conference attendees each mid-morning to take coffee breaks