Understanding Academics at York

Vanya Gallimore’s presentation to LIBER 2018 on the York University UX project that she led with Michelle Blake fitted well with the theme of cultural change for the research community.  Rather than focussing specifically on researchers’ relationship with library services the project looked at how academics at York approach their research and teaching activities.  The library was then able to consider how is its services currently facilitated and supported those activities and how to integrate the ‘academic voice’ into future service planning and development of support.

York librarians selected as their ethnographic methodologies two techniques that put academics at the centre of the process: cognitive mapping followed by semi-structured interviews.  The resulting data was coded and analysed in NVivo qualitative software against a set of key themes.

Researchers talked about their motivations around research and teaching, frustrations and pressures, and aspiration, shedding light not only on their own ways of working but also on the changing nature of students and how they were adjusting to teaching them.  Largely unprompted, they also described how their interactions with the library have changed.

The research results have fed into both some ‘quick-wins’ for the library and a series of longer-term recommendations, captured in the new Library Strategy for 2018-21.

The presentation will be available shortly but the research has been written up in an article for the New Review of Academic Librarianship.  Understanding academics: a UX ethnographic research project at the University of York is available on open access at https://doi.org/101080/13614533.208.1466716


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