For immediate release | September 26, 2011

Eye-opening insights into college libraries and student culture

CHICAGO — How do college students really conduct research for classroom assignments? In 2008, five large Illinois universities were awarded a Library Services and Technology Act Grant to try to answer that question. The resulting ongoing study, which has garnered national attention, including an article in USA Today, has already yielded some bracing results. “College Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know,” newly published by ALA Editions, details the findings. It suggests changes ranging from simple adjustments in service and resources to modifying the physical layout of the library. In this book Lynda M. Duke and Andrew D. Asher, two anthropological researchers involved with the project since its beginning:

  • Summarize the study’s history, including its goals, parameters and methodology;
  • Offer a comprehensive discussion of the research findings, touching on issues such as website design, library instruction for faculty and meeting the needs of commuter and minority students;
  • Detail a number of service reforms which have already been implemented at the participating institutions.

Duke is an associate professor and academic outreach librarian at The Ames Library, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Ill. Her responsibilities include coordinating assessment and marketing activities for the library, as well as collection development and library instruction for the departments of Hispanic studies, economics and business administration. She served as Principal Investigator for the IWU research team of the ERIAL Project. She has published on marketing topics in College & Research Libraries and College & Undergraduate Libraries, and has presented at ACRL, ALA, IASSIST, and NITLE.

Asher was the lead research anthropologist for the ERIAL Project. He is currently a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) fellow for scholarly communications at Bucknell University, where he is conducting research on faculty publication practices and continuing his inquiries into scholarly search processes. Dr. Asher has presented widely on using ethnography in academic libraries (including ALA, ACRL, NITLE, ITHAKA, NERCOMP and ARL), and teaches an ACRL seminar on ethnographic methods for librarians.

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