Thematic Analysis of Videos Suggests That YA Space Design Should Be User-Driven, User-Centered, and Flexible Enough to Enable Multiple Uses
Keywords:YA spaces, space planning, teens, public libraries, video diary, thematic analysis, qualitative methods
AbstractA Review of:
Agosto, D. E., Bell, J. P., Bernier, A. & Kuhlmann, M. (2015). “This is our library, and it’s a pretty cool place”: A user-centered study of public library YA spaces. Public Library Quarterly, 34(1), 23-43. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01616846.2015.1000777
Objective – To add empirical evidence to the study of young adult (YA) spaces and creation of related guidelines by investigating librarians’ and teens’ perceptions of YA spaces and their use in public libraries.
Design – Qualitative thematic analysis of video data content.
Setting – 25 public libraries in the United States of America.
Subjects – A librarian, and a teen of their choosing, at each of the 25 selected libraries.
Methods – The researchers chose 25 public libraries randomly from a list of 257 libraries profiled from 2005-2010 in Library Journal’s annual index of new and renovated libraries. Each of the 25 libraries was sent a video camera, and the selected librarian and teen each recorded a narrated tour of their library’s YA space. The cameras were returned to the researchers, who had the audio of the recordings transcribed, referring back to the video for any narration that needed clarification. Thematic analysis was performed on the transcriptions to identify major- and sub-categories of space and space-use characteristics. Empirical results were reported as a numerical figure representing the number of videos (n=42 total usable videos) in which a particular theme was mentioned at least once.
Main Results – Five main categories of YA space characteristics recommended by teens and librarians emerged from the thematic analysis. YA spaces need to facilitate: physical comfort; both leisure activity and information needs; both academic activity and information needs; a sense of ownership by teens; and improved marketing of the spaces as well as clear displays of library policies regarding the spaces. Sub-categories were also listed in each instance, as were counts and percentages of numbers of videos in which a theme was mentioned at least once.
Conclusion – YA spaces in public libraries need to be user-centered, and the arrangements need to be flexible enough to be used for multiple purposes. Teens need to be involved in and drivers of their design and ongoing use. In addition, teens’ needs for social interaction, and leisure as well as academic support, must be explicitly incorporated into any planning. Librarians and libraries must adjust their focus on resources to better mirror teens’ focus on the activities that happen in YA spaces, both online and in person. In order to serve YA patrons, libraries must also actively promote YA spaces. This initial exploratory empirical investigation can inform future much-needed research on improving YA space planning. Research is also needed to examine the evolution of libraries’ YA investments as teen patrons’ needs change over time.
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