Small Library Research: Using Qualitative and User-Oriented Research to Transform a Traditional Library into an Information Commons

Quincy Dalton McCrary



Objective - The project team investigated the changes necessary to transform the original library into an information commons. The researchers sought to drive the project by asking for patrons’ input, rather than rely on the vision of administrators or librarians.

Methods - The project team used four techniques to gather data. They recorded patron use patterns, administered surveys, conducted formal interviews, and facilitated comment boards.

Results - Each of the four methods used in this research delivered similar conclusions. Patrons used the library as a study hall, but the space did not facilitate collaboration. Patrons requested more group study spaces, more access to power, and a quieter environment. Patrons identified the value of developing a learning community in the library. Finally, patrons advocated for the retention of physical collections in the library building.

Conclusion - The present library building, designed to facilitate individual, quiet, textual based learning, no longer serves the needs of its patrons. Analysis of this project’s data supports the need to develop an information commons. The Gellert Library is not just a place to store books and study. Rather, it is a place where meaning and learning emerges from access to knowledge.


libraries, information commons, qualitative research, transformation

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