The primary goal of the ERIAL project is to trigger reforms in library services to better meet students’ needs. Traditionally, academic libraries have designed library services and facilities based on information gleaned from user surveys, usage data, focus groups, and librarians’ informal observations. While such tools are valuable, this project employed more user-centered methods to form holistic portraits of student behavior and needs, directly resulting in changes to library services and resources. The ERIAL Project has provided much needed insight into how our students engage with the process of research. By utilizing ethnographic research methods, rather than more traditional methods, we have developed a more nuanced, robust view of our students and their relationship with the library. Based on these findings, the Ames Library is actively engaged in re-thinking how we offer some of our services, what new resources we need to make available, and how to build stronger relationships with teaching faculty across the curriculum. The researchers are confident that the changes being implemented as a result of this study will significantly enhance the ability to connect with students.
The ERIAL project: Ethnographic research in Illinois academic libraries. Illinois, U.S.: The Academic Commons. http://www.academiccommons.org/2014/09/09/the-erial-project-ethnographic-research-in-illinois-academic-libraries/