Alone with others: Understanding physical environmental needs of students within an academic library setting

Marston Library

Five independent professional disciplines: architecture, building construction, interior design, landscape architecture and urban and regional planning

Source: EDL Project – Marston Library | UF College of Design, Construction & Planning

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Academic libraries have undergone renovations at a rapid pace in recent years to better accommodate students’ need for collaboration and social learning. Empirical evidence about how students use libraries is crucial for understanding the full spectrum of their needs and behaviors. Using a mixed-methods approach, the objectives of this research were:

1) to explore students’ specific behaviors in the library space and

2) to examine users’ perceptions of the physical environment.

This research was conducted in the Marston Science Library on the University of Florida campus. The first floor was renovated in 2014 to accommodate students’ need for collaboration. The roughly 26,000-square-foot space on the includes 754 seats in a large main seating area, a conference room and 24 group study rooms. Our research demonstrated the dialectical interplay between students’ desire to be alone and their desire to be with others. Students seem to enjoy being in an open and group-oriented workspace, even when studying alone. However, our findings raise questions as to whether we are providing enough acoustical control and privacy. 

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