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Exploring Academic Blended Libraries: A Study of Student Experiences

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posted on 2024-06-16, 10:14 authored by Patricia Mariel Velasquez

The academic library is an essential service provided by the university to support the learning of its students. Libraries nowadays offer more than print collections and often emphasise the resources that can be accessed online to cater to diverse users' needs. Previous studies have highlighted the advantages of combining physical and digital libraries - the emergence of the "blended library". The blended library is a ubiquitous environment that supports users' needs, which in this study are undergraduate students, by combining physical and digital elements homogeneously to create an environment in which reality and virtuality do not compete, but rather merge in a user-friendly way. A well-designed academic library that suits students' learning needs can genuinely become a transcendent learning space that can support students' learning needs. Indeed, the library has always been more than a warehouse for recorded knowledge, rather, it provides a place for contemplation, integration, and creation of new ideas or knowledge.

Existing research about the blended library has mainly focused on the library and librarians' view and perceptions and are mostly conceptual studies. There are not many empirical studies on the academic blended library, focusing on the students' perception, and previous studies have emphasised the need to verify the impact of a blended library on students' learning experience because extant literature lacks empirical evidence and understanding of this aspect. This study addressed the gaps in literature by providing empirical evidence through an investigation of the student experience of the blended library and how its design affects their learning experience.

The study employed a qualitative research design. The research draws on Benyon's blended space theory, which has found application in various domains but remains relatively unexplored in the library context. By adopting a qualitative approach, the study examined how students perceive and engage with the University of Auckland blended libraries. Data were collected through document analysis, interviews, observations and focus group discussions, providing insights into the barriers and enablers influencing students' use and learning experiences within these environments.

The findings reveal that the design of blended libraries significantly affects students' learning experience and their use of the library. Libraries that prioritise accessibility, customisability, and ease of use for both physical and digital spaces create an environment that encourages students to utilise library learning resources and support services. Furthermore, involving students in the planning and development of library spaces fosters a sense of ownership and ensures that library designs align with their needs and expectations.

The study also highlights the need for libraries to enhance support for students who bring their own devices (BYOD) to the library. Robust Wi-Fi connections, an adequate number of power outlets, and versatile library applications are found to be essential to accommodate the increasing use of personal devices in library spaces.

Additionally, it underscores the importance of adapting theoretical frameworks in library context, such as Benyon's blended space theory, to address the unique challenges and opportunities presented by academic blended libraries in the digital age.

In conclusion, this research contributes to the understanding of academic blended libraries and their impact on student experiences and learning outcomes. It offers valuable recommendations for library practitioners and designers to enhance the blended library environment and better support students in their academic pursuits.

History

Copyright Date

2024-06-16

Date of Award

2024-06-16

Publisher

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Information Systems; Library and Information Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level

Doctoral

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

220408 Information systems; 220303 Library and archival services; 220302 Electronic information storage and retrieval services

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

3 Applied research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis

Language

en_NZ

Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Information Management

Advisors

Goulding, Anne; Liew, Chern Li