ACRL Webcast: Coming of age online

I’m sort of liveblogging (without the snark) from the ACRL Webcast of their study called “Coming of Age Online.

A couple of highlights so far:

They mention that they found students use what they call “cell phone culture” to kick off their research.
Basically, the students would call friends and family and ask “what do you think of this topic?” Given that the most trusted, accurate, and desired recommender systems are friends and family I kind of think of this as a recommender system for research topics. I wonder if we could ever implement one of these in a library? A system where students could input their research topic and get recommendations on it? That might be helpful.

Also, I noticed here that there was a lot of and a strong desire for peer to peer education. This is in direct contrast to my desires. I’d rather be taught by someone who understands the topic. But that’s just me. Kids nowadays…

I’ve been thinking for a while now that demand for desktops in the library would go away. Their study showed that desktops in places like the library are still important because even though most students owned a laptop they didn’t feel like lugging it around. So they used desktops to check email, write papers, and so on.

There was a large portion of the program dedicated to study spaces and some of the recommendations were obvious (flexible, food friendly, technology rich, various types of spaces) and some not so. Specifically, there was a recommendation that less users in the library can be a better thing.

This articulated with some of their findings about student’s habits. They used a mapping technique to track where and when students were performing various activities during their days and they found a couple of interesting things: students were using technology everywhere, they stayed up later than most people expected, they ate food at odd times, and they had a very full schedule.

When they started to redesign their library, they did some neat brainstorming activities (sort of like what we’ve been doing with our Phase 3/4 design stuff) and asked students to think creatively and totally openly about new spaces for the library. They had to bribe the students with money and food, but hey! They got them to do it.

They incorporated the suggestions, the findings, and some other factors and created basically what everyone is creating now: a learning commons. They also stayed open later a few days a quarter, allowed food in the library and basically transformed the area into an open, welcoming commons for inquiry.

I was surprised that they found that allowing food in the library meant more custodial services. It’s obvious when I say it, but I guess I never really thought about it. The other thing I found interesting is that night time reference doesn’t generate more clients (which all of our studies show it won’t), but it did generate more in depth reference help. Night time reference: quality over quantity.

They also are applying some of their research techniques to their homepage redesign. I think I’d like to incorporate that idea into our pending redesign.

Overall the presentation started super slow and built into an interesting presentation.

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