Participant-driven photo-elicitation in library settings: A methodological discussion

Shailoo Bedi, Jenaya Webb


With the current attention in libraries on user-focused services and spaces, there is an increased interest in qualitative research methods that can provide insight into users’ experiences. In this paper, we advance photo-elicitation—a research method that employs photographs in interviews—as one such method. Although widely used in the social sciences, photo-elicitation has seen comparatively little uptake in Library and Information Studies (LIS). Here, we provide an overview of the method, consider epistemological and theoretical approaches, discuss cases of its application in library contexts and examine the benefits of using photo-elicitation for LIS research. We draw on our own research experiences and argue that photo-elicitation is a productive method for learning about the lived experiences of our users and for creating a collaborative approach to library research.


visual research methods; photography; photo-elicitation; methodology; library and information studies

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ISSN 1756-1086 (Online)