Anthropologists in the Library

Instead of another quantitative study of how students use their library, the Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries group employed anthropological principles to see how students really interacted with them. The results surprised them:

The majority of students — of all levels — exhibited significant difficulties that ranged across nearly every aspect of the search process.

And even though students had problems finding the right information, they didn’t ask for help as:

Librarians are believed to do work unrelated to helping students, or work that, while possibly related to research, does not entitle students to relationships with them.

This article is about academic libraries, but I found in it some unexpected insights on how the public might view us, and how that affects the value we can give them.

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