Combining Surveys with Seating Sweeps and Observational Data Yields Insights into Physical Space Usage in an Academic Library
A Review of:
Dominguez, G. (2016). Beyond gate counts: Seating studies and observations to assess library space usage. New Library World, 117(5/6), 321-328. https://doi.org/10.1108/NLW-08-2015-0058
Objective – To propose a new method to assess library space usage and the physical library user experience utilizing multiple data collection techniques.
Design – Seating usage studies, surveys, and observation.
Setting – Large university in the southern United States.
Subjects – Students who physically use the library spaces.
Methods – The researcher performed seating sweeps three times a day for one week at time, using a counter to get an accurate headcount of each area of the library. The number of users was recorded on paper and then transferred to Excel. A survey for library patrons was created using Typeform and distributed through both email and in-person. In addition, the researcher created a photo diary to document how students were using the space, particularly creative and flexible uses of the library space. These photos were collected to be shared with library administration. The researcher conducted the study twice, once at each main campus library.
Main Results – The initial seating sweeps at one location showed an average of 57 to 85 users engaging in active study, and 57% of users engaged in individual study vs. group study. The sweeping study at the second campus location found that floors designated as quiet floors were the most overcrowded. The researcher found that overall, the actual library use surpassed expected library use. The survey results indicated patron concerns about the lack of available seating, noise policies, uncomfortable furniture, and technology issues such as power outlets and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Conclusion – The researcher found that utilizing surveys in addition to observational data provided a more complete picture of the user experience. Photographs also provided depth and texture to the observational data. Based on the findings the librarians and administration plan to upgrade furniture and technology options, as well as make changes to the noise policy.
Glynn, L. (2006). A critical appraisal tool for library and information research. Library Hi Tech, 24(3), 387-399. https://doi.org/10.1108/07378830610692154
Linn, M. (2013, April). Seating sweeps: an innovative research method to learn about how our patrons use the library. In ACRL 2013 Conference, Association of College & Research Libraries (pp. 511-517).
Jaskowiak, M., Garman, K., Frazier, M., & Spires, T. (2019). We’re all in this together: an examination of seating and space usage in a renovated academic library. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-Journal). Retrived from https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/2645
Olsen, H. K. (2019). What are they doing? and where? tracking the traffic as one of the instruments in an evidence-based redesign of a university library. LIBER Quarterly, 29(1), 1–32. https://doi.org/10.18352/lq.10276
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2020 Jennifer Kaari
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The Creative Commons-Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License 4.0 International applies to all works published by Evidence Based Library and Information Practice. Authors will retain copyright of the work.