This fall, Anthropology professor Ira Bashkow’s “How to do Ethnographic Research” course took a deep dive toward helping us understand Library use and, in particular, use of digital resources for reading and research.
Students worked in partnership with Library subject specialist Erin Pappas and, for one project, distributed survey cards to interview Library users. Their survey work will be used as part of Anthropologist Nancy Fried Foster’s participatory design project, which seeks to guide future Library decisions, including decisions made as part of the upcoming Alderman renovation.
Additionally, students conducted their own ethnographic research projects, which were presented in a poster session in Clemons Library. Students wrote blog posts about their experiences—some excerpts are highlighted below.
“Straight Facts, No Printer”
“Ew. No. I hate printing.” It was six o’clock on a Wednesday night, and I was exhausted. The words came out effortlessly, rejecting my professor’s idea that I focus on student printing habits for my project. His eyebrows furrowed. “That’s interesting. Why do you feel that way?”
[W]hat is it that keeps students from seeking out these physical resources available to them? Throughout my interviews and observations, it would seem it is a mixture of intimidation, inconvenience, and simply not knowing how to find the materials they need.
“Print vs Digital Reading”
In contrast to what the literature says about student preferences, my findings show that students prefer [reading online and reading in print]. When I asked them why they preferred both, they agreed that what influenced their choices was the class format itself.
“Top Three Reasons Why Students Read Online”
Students prefer online for its benefits of being searchable, accessible, and skimmable but only as it relates to research assignments. When it comes to reading for pleasure, even students prefer print.
Photos of poster session courtesy professor Ira Bashkow.