Regalado, M., & Smale, M. A. (2015). “I am more productive in the library because it’s quiet”: Commuter students in the college library. College & Research Libraries, 76(7), 899-913.
This qualitative study investigated how students at 6 institutions in the City University of New York (CUNY) system valued the library. CUNY is notable because with its 24 campuses and ~270,000 students, it is the largest urban public American university. Many of its students commute, and commuters are often an understudied and under-served student group in academic libraries.
The study consisted of 3 data collection methods, with approximately 10 participants at each of the 6 locations. All participants (n=178) were asked to discuss what helped or hindered their studies, with a focus on the physical and environmental factors. For the mapping diaries, participants were asked to draw locations that they traveled to during a school day, and note the times they were at the locations. For the photo surveys, participants were asked to take photos of locations or object related to study related prompts. For the retrospective research process interviews, participants were asked to recount their research process for an assignment. Approximately 10-13 faculty at each location were also interviewed.
The major finding was that many students preferred to study alone, and locations that offered privacy and quite were the most valued. The study authors noted that this seems to argue against the installation of information commons or spaces designed to encourage group study, but also noted that some students did prefer to work in small groups or less private and quiet areas. The researchers also noted that regardless of the types of seating, students tended to have strong preferences for their preferred locations.