57: AnthroNews:TheAnthroGuys Blog

14 04 2009

AnthroNews:TheAnthroGuys Blog
By theanthroguy (aka Dr. Delcore)

My last few postings have been about ArcHop and plans for developing more affordable, high-density living spaces in downtown Fresno. But now that the Feb. 5 exhibit is over and we’re in data analysis mode on that one, I’m back to having the library on my mind more than ever.
Fresno State just opened a new library this month – find it on facebook by searching “Henry Madden Library.” But already for the last six months, The Anthro Guys and our students have been studying student life for the library. Dean Peter McDonald commissioned the study last year. His goal is to increase student usage, enhance the experience of all users, and make the library central to campus life. That’s a tall order, but when we met him, Dean McDonald was already aware of Nancy Fried Foster and Susan Gibbons’ “Studying Students: The Undergraduate Research Project at the University of Rochester.” Rochester anthros Foster and Gibbons, in collaboration with their campus librarians, probed student study and paper-writing habits and translated the results into design insights for library services. Dean McDonald saw the potential for an ethnographic study of Fresno State students to help him achieve his goals for library services, and the study was off and running.
What are we doing? Over the next few weeks, I’ll try to post about our actual research activities. Last fall, we attended the Participatory Design Conference at Indiana University and came away with a wealth of new methodological ideas. Most are united by the reality that merely asking people what they want in products and services is woefully inadequate to inspiring better design for rich user experience. In general, people simply can’t tell you what they want from something as complex as “the library.” However, they do know – at some level – what makes for a rich experience. The challenge is to get that out of them, find the design insights, and translate them into actions and policies. Consequently, one thing we’re deep into right now is Student Theater. In Student Theater, we direct some student participants in the first half of a skit that implicates the library somehow, then invite other student participants to direct the players toward a conclusion.

[This is not the end of the blog, for the rest of it, and others go to theanthroguys blog here: http://theanthroguys.com/2009/03/02/the-library-study/]

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