The research explores the emerging specialty of learning space assessment with a focus on how new information professionals represented by graduate students in an academic libraries course defined quality criteria for library spaces and how they approached designing and conducting a one-shot multi-site space assessment project.
The instructor-investigator adopted a diachronic collective case study strategy, using documents generated by six cohorts over three academic years. The data included 180 online discussion posts, 97 individual site assessments and 32 group project reports. Data were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively to identify patterns and trends in student behaviour.
The analysis revealed a strong trend among students for creating their own evaluation frameworks in preference to reusing existing professional tools in their current form; the proportion of students who developed their own criteria or combined existing criteria in new ways shifted from 40 per cent to 80 per cent in three years. Their approaches demonstrated willingness and ability to engage in independent and creative thinking, and readiness to explore interdisciplinary and international perspectives on space. They also displayed a commitment to accessible, flexible and adaptable user-centred design for active, collaborative learning and to bringing a user perspective to their observations.
The focus on student-librarians provides a unique forward-looking perspective on the desirable qualities of next-generation learning spaces in academic libraries. The study documents an unprecedented range of established and novel space evaluation frameworks and tools informed by different professional disciplines. The results should be of interest to library and information science (LIS) educators and practitioners.
The author gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the MLIS students who participated in the group multi-site space study as part of their Academic Libraries course in 2014, 2015 and 2016, whose ideas and insights have enriched the research reported here.
Corrall, S. (2018), "Library space assessment methods: perspectives of new information professionals", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 119 No. 1/2, pp. 39-63. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-10-2017-0097
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