Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

College Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

College Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know

Article excerpt

College Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know. Ed. by Lynda M. Duke and Andrew D. Asher. Chicago: ALA, 2012. 191 p. Paper $60 (978-0-8389-1116-7).

How do college students use libraries? How can we develop services and facilities that respond effectively to their needs? Many libraries recently have turned to ethnography to find out how students do research and how libraries can best support them.

In 2008, a group of five university libraries in Illinois undertook a grant-funded project to investigate how students actually used their services and facilities. Inspired by a landmark ethnographic study at the University of Rochester in 2004, the Illinois universities aimed to make changes to their services based on their study findings. This book presents a succinct and easily readable summary of the project. The authors contextualize their results within the larger debate regarding the sometimes opposing pragmatic and idealist goals of higher education: Should student research serve the immediate objective of completing an assignment (to achieve a grade, a degree, a credential), or should it inculcate a love of learning for learning's sake? Are these goals mutually exclusive? In this process, do librarians function as service providers or as educators?

The study found that students often have an incomplete understanding of the services and resources available in academic libraries and of how librarians can help them. Many students, according to the study, seek help from faculty, friends, and even parents, rather than from librarians. …

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