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Using Ethnography in the Library: How to Study the Students in their Native Data-Gathering Habits

Presenter 1
Lois Stickell
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Most libraries have access to myriad information sources and data of all types. The librarians know how to access the data but do the students? While webpage redesigns and other attempts to make user information more helpful often focus on usability studies, there is little research on how students make initial choices about where to go for data. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has embarked on a ethnographically-based study of student use of the library that includes hiring an Anthropologist to facilitate helping librarians better understand student behavior. This study is in the early stages but is patterned after study at the University of Rochester. M presentation will focus on how the library plans to incorporate this study and the changes it suggests into an overall re-design of library websites and the physical facility itself with the goal of better serving the students. While the overall study will be broad, my presentaiton will focus on how the lbirary plans to focus on how students seek/find data and how they succeed and/or fail at the process.

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