THE VIRTUAL REALITY: Exploring graduate student use patterns of the UCSB Library

May 2, 2011, 1:03 pm

The UC institutional repository doesn’t have a space for library-generated papers, so I’ll just post it here. My SEO is decent so hopefully it will be discoverable.

Exploring graduate student use patterns of the UCSB Library
An ethnographic study

Prepared by Lindsay Vogt, Anthropology Graduate Student, UCSB
in collaboration with Brian Mathews, UCSB Library

Executive Summary (with an internal link to the full report)

I’ll let the report speak for itself. This is part one of a larger project, currently on hiatus, but hopefully will pick up again after ALA in New Orleans. In a nutshell, I hired an anthro grad student to help me study grad students. This paper is an internal document, but I figured since many librarians are interested in anthro research these days that it might be of some value. After our next report is done we’ll turn our work into a article where I’ll expound on the experience and findings a bit more.

Basically we interviewed 25 graduate students across five disciplines, as well as about 20 additional students presenting a wide host of subject areas. We have tons of photos, video, and audio recordings. My interest was to get out there and see where grad students worked, what they did, and how they did it. This took us into labs, classrooms, performance halls, online learning environments, and even a remote atoll in the South Pacific (virtually of course.)


This was definitely my favorite interview of them all. Perhaps I missed my calling as a scientist?

One of the guiding principles was to follow the transition from student (undergrad) to scholar (PhD) and to chronicle the steps and developments along the way. I was very intrigued by their processes of conducting research. We had participants show us how they discovered scholarly materials and they overwhelming favored Google Scholar. Not a shock, but with our campus-wide IP providing seamless access to journals many of them are totally unaware that we pay the licensing. This is nothing new—librarians have been lamenting this over the past decade—but it explains why we received very low LibQUAL+ scores from grads regarding the question about providing remote access—if they only knew!

Anyway— I have to emphasize that this is an internal document about our grad students and I’m not attempting to generalize this beyond UCSB. This is part one of an envisioned three part series. I just wanted to share with my fellow assessment-driven librarians out there.

A big thanks to Lindsey Vogt for her partnership and to Brooke Murphy for help with transcription.


And just for fun— anatomy of a librarian

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