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Anthropology in Libraries

August 26, 2013

My research methods class is focusing on e-books in academic libraries. I’ll know more about it after class meets on Thursday, but one of the parts of the class is to write a research paper, starting with a question, doing some background lit reviewing, and conducting a study, then analyzing the data.

I did a very smart thing when I went to Baruch to get the details of my internship there sorted out. I mentioned the class topic, and a couple very general thoughts about it to the librarian who’ll be my supervisor. And he connected me with a User Services Librarian!

And he told me there are all kinds of ethnographies of library use and behavior. As in, anthropological studies of libraries.

Why is this, my third, and last, year of school, the first time I’m hearing about this? The intersection of library science and anthropology?

The Anthropologist in the Stacks: Donna Lanclos is an anthropologist and folklorist. “n 2009, she was hired by UNC Charlotte’s University Librarian, Stanley Wilder, to be the Library Ethnographer. In and among all of the interviewing, observations, focus groups, and usability testing, she is still figuring out what that means.” It means: I’m going to have fun reading this, that’s what!

The ERIAL project: a study  of college libraries and student culture, in Illinois.

Undergraduate Scholarly Habits Ethnography Project at CUNY.

I especially like the blog-as-research-chronicle idea, making a good thinking out-loud space.

Here is what I’m thinking about: e-books, and students’ learning habits, and whether/how they take notes in electronic materials. Or print them out, like I do. Just doing the first nibbles on this idea, and so far, I haven’t seen anyone asking about this. It’s early, yet, though. I haven’t even had class.

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