Notes on "Beer Cans in the Stacks"

Beer Cans in the Stacks? Using a Photo Study to Reveal How Students Use Library Spaces
Maura  Seale, Research & Instruction Librarian, Georgetown University

  • Paper forms for headcounts were entered into online database.
  • Staff took pictures every hour the library is open, from mid-Feb to mid-May. They put up signs informing students of this project, so that students not wanting to be photographed would know not to sit in certain areas. They also received a large article in the student newspaper informing students of this project and making sure they knew it was to improve library services to them.
  • Data was counted into Tableau Public (free version; http://www.tableausoftware.com/public/).
  • Staff created video from all of the pictures taken. (Specific areas of the library at each time of day).
  • Findings:
    • From this project, staff discovered that there was a lot of wasted space in their library & that students had very clear space, location & furniture preferences. Students preferred any tables near windows. Armchairs aren't heavily used, but when they are, it's for napping. Students were even moving furniture to different floors via the elevator! The library's print material was still being used a lot. Printer lines were long. The reference collection, however, was not being used much.
  • What Changed:
    • Half of the print reference collection was weeded & shelving removed for more space for students.
    • Printers were moved to a better location.
    • Circulation was locked up after hours, which allowed them to keep an entire floor of the library open 24 hours.
  • PDF report available at http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/conferences/confsandpreconfs/2013/papers/Seale_BeerCans.pdf.

 

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