Quantitative vs. qualitative – do different research methods give us consistent information about our users and their library space needs?

Susan E Montgomery

Abstract


Assessment of how library patrons use space and the evaluation of their needs has become a “hot” topic in library research. But determining the best way to obtain information about their activity can be a challenge. Two types of data collection are quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data provides a numerical count of what activities students perform within the library and therefore can be measured. Qualitative data gives personal opinions, feedback and individual perspectives regarding a topic but is not measurable. In this study, we were interested to learn if we would get substantially different results from a user observation study, a quantitative method, than from the results of asking users about their library space needs, a qualitative method. Essentially, would the results from both methods provide complementary results enabling us to obtain a comprehensive picture about our patrons’ needs and redesign the space to improve their library experience?

Keywords


library space; research; quantitative; qualitative

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CILIP Registered Charity no 313014

ISSN 1756-1086 (Online)