College Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know

ALA Member
Item Number
ALA Editions
AP Categories

Primary tabs

You don't need to be an ALA Member to purchase from the ALA Store, but you'll be asked to create an online account/profile during the checkout to proceed. This Web Account is for both Members and non-Members. 

If you are Tax-Exempt, please verify that your account is currently set up as exempt before placing your order, as our new fulfillment center will need current documentation. Learn how to verify here.

  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

How do college students really conduct research for classroom assignments? In 2008, five large Illinois universities were awarded a Library Services and Technology Act Grant to try to answer that question. The resulting ongoing study has already yielded some eye-opening results. The findings suggest changes ranging from simple adjustments in service and resources to modifying the physical layout of the library. In this book Duke and Asher, two anthropological researchers involved with the project since its beginning,

  • Summarize the study's history, including its goals, parameters, and methodology
  • Offer a comprehensive discussion of the research findings, touching on issues such as website design, library instruction for faculty, and meeting the needs of commuter and minority students
  • Detail a number of service reforms which have already been implemented at the participating institutions

This important book deepens our understanding of how academic libraries can better serve students' needs, and also serves as a model for other researchers interested in a user-centered approach to evaluating library services.

ERIAL Project Research Teams

1 Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries: The ERIAL Project

Andrew D. Asher, Susan Miller, and David Green

2 Pragmatism and Idealism in the Academic Library: An Analysis of Faculty and Librarian Expectations and Values

Mary Thill

3 Marketing the Library's Instructional Services to Teaching Faculty: Learning from Teaching Faculty Interviews

Annie Armstrong

4 Why Don't Students Ask Librarians for Help? Undergraduate Help-Seeking Behavior in Three Academic Libraries

Susan Miller and Nancy Murillo

5 Searching for Answers: Student Research Behavior at Illinois Wesleyan University

Andrew D. Asher and Lynda M. Duke

6 Supporting the Academic Success of Hispanic Students

David Green

7 First-Generation College Students: A Sketch of Their Research Process

Firouzeh Logan and Elizabeth Pickard

8 Seeing Ourselves As Others See Us: Library Spaces through Student Eyes

Jane Treadwell, Amanda Binder, and Natalie Tagge

9 Transformative Changes in Thinking, Services, and Programs

Lynda M. Duke

10 Conclusions and Future Research

Andrew D. Asher and Lynda M. Duke


ERIAL Interview Guide Questions


Lynda M. Duke

Lynda M. Duke is an associate professor and academic outreach librarian at The Ames Library, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois. Her responsibilities include coordinating assessment and marketing activities for the library, as well as collection development and library instruction for the departments of Hispanic studies, economics and business administration. She served as Principal Investigator for the IWU research team of the ERIAL Project. She has published on marketing topics in College & Research Libraries and College & Undergraduate Libraries, and has presented at ACRL, ALA, IASSIST, and NITLE. She earned her master's degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her master's of urban planning from the University of Michigan.

Andrew D. Asher

Andrew D. Asher was the Lead Research Anthropologist for the ERIAL Project. He holds a PhD in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) fellow for scholarly communications at Bucknell University, where he is conducting research on faculty publication practices and continuing his inquiries into scholarly search processes. Dr. Asher has presented widely on using ethnography in academic libraries (including ALA, ACRL, NITLE, ITHAKA, NERCOMP & ARL), and teaches an ACRL seminar on ethnographic methods for librarians.

"A well-organized and insightful work that reveals how academic libraries are viewed and utilized ... Those interested in keeping pace with the rapidly evolving world of academic libraries will find numerous points of interest to contemplate in these pages."

"Engaging ... While readers might be drawn initially to the salient findings described in chapters two through nine, a more lasting effect of this book is perhaps its impact on librarians' interest in conducting ethnographic studies at their own institutions ... Readers will benefit from an extensive bibliography, including a number of studies initiated to understand and improve student researchers' experiences in their college libraries."

"While this book explores some exciting ideas in academic library services, I especially enjoyed the quotes from the students and faculty interviews that many chapter contributors shared. This thought-provoking book will be of interest to anyone concerned with the future of libraries."
--Information Today