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Ethnographic, Research Paper Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1214

Research Paper

Introduction

This paper addresses the question of why people study in libraries.  The lens is placed upon students studying in the USA.  Empirical research based upon whether people prefer to study alone or in groups and why the library is an attractive work option.  In the USA individual interviews were conducted on students who used the Martin Luther King library. The library is used by a diverse range of students from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

The advantages of a Library

The library has a number of distinct advantages for students.  First, it provides a quiet place of refuge where you can concentrate with others who are similarly engaged.  In this regards it provides an atmosphere of study motivation.  Second, it is a valuable place for researching a wide range of academic books and journals and as such a repository of knowledge that facilitates meaningful research. In this sense there is greater validity in the sources of information as opposed to a lot of the information extracted from internet sources.  Third, it provides a potential meeting place for talking with other students who are similarly engaged in carrying out research at the library.

What the interviewees say

The Silence Zone – A large number of respondents like the library because of the silence zone. It provides a space where you can gather your thoughts and concentrate on the task in hand.  This is better than study dorms or working at home where there is a risk of constant interruption from family or friends. In addition other places are often inflicted with background noise or chatter that can be extremely irritating and distracting when trying to focus on serious studies.

The studying atmosphere –  There is no doubt that being in an atmosphere of other likeminded students working is extremely motivating.  In addition this helps in becoming more focused on the task. The lack of casual conversation also facilitates concentration in getting on with the task at hand.  In general it is felt that individual study offers certain advantages over group or team studies.  Whilst interaction and group dynamics offers the prospect of useful information sharing  it equally lacks the power of individual focus and concentration. The team study concept seems more fragmented.

Good postured study –  The concept of studying in the dorm or home surrounds means you tend to lounge around in an informal way. This often means studying in very comfortable surroundings and there is a tendency to get too relaxed and slumber.  The library ensures that you are seated at a proper desk or workstation and this promotes both better posture and concentration.  This facilitates mission accomplishment as opposed to the scope creep at home where the study program gets put off to another day.

Individual Motivation –  The library setting inspires!  There is a motivational incentive in terms of being surrounded by thousands of literary works.  Visually seeing the accomplishments of others is a powerful motivator in helping you to get on with your studies and research.  The library also offers you infinite flexibility. If you feel saturated with a particular subject it is easy to stop and put that topic away and starting another project.  This ensures optimum use of your work time.

Power of study – Sitting at a desk in the library with a number of books open aids comparative analysis over a number of texts.  This has been equally simplified by computers that are tapped into the vast library and aids searches and comparative analysis of texts.  Despite modern technology there is still intrinsic value in getting text books off the shelf and thumbing through them.  This tactile response can be extremely satisfying particularly when looking at older works. You gain a far better feeling of the history and importance of the text as opposed to looking at text on computer screens.  It is the senses of touch and small of the book that gives you a feeling of being closer to the author and as such you gain an improved sense of being and satisfaction in reading the work.

Seeking help –  As in most aspects of life it is always useful to seek the help and assistance of a skilled librarian when performing searches.  The concept of dealing with a human being that is receptive to your needs is more comforting than dealing with computer online help facilities. This sort of support has its own rewards in terms of motivation and knowing you have a skilled person to help you with queries.

The dangers of computers –  One of the big problems with computers as a study media is that they themselves offer a distraction. You may be interrupted by e-mails, become involved with social media sites like Twitter or Facebook, get pulled into a computer game etc. All of these can distract you from your study objective and you lose the real advantages that the computer provides in terms of speed of searches and ability to conduct analysis.  As such the use of computers imposes the need for a strong sense of personal discipline.  This is not easy for young people and there are occasions when the PC is better left at home.  This equally applies to other portable devices like mobile phones and tablets.  These have silent alerts that can be used by vibrates and indicating lights when used in libraries.  Although this may not be irritating to others it is still another source of distraction that you could do without.

The social gathering –  A lot of people like to get together as a group but study individually in the library.  This enables you to meet up afterwards in the coffee lounge and discuss aspects of your studies.  This provides an important peer review session and facilitates interchange of ideas and concepts.  This is a very powerful and persuasive means of studying and makes good use of the library time.  Research has indicated that students who study in this manner are far more successful in tests and retaining the information in memory.

The use of music – A fair number of students  found that listening to soothing background classical music helped in the feeling of calmness and improved overall concentration in the study.  The use of music was found to reduce stress and aid the ability to focus when conducting searches. The choice of music was selective and this was found to be either classical or light instrumental music.  Vocalist music was rarely used because this posed a distraction. Overall the number of interviewees thought that well selected music was a valuable assist in reducing stress and helping to focus the mind whilst engaged on studying activities

Conclusions

In summary the majority of the interviewees felt that the Library was a far more conducive place of study than that of the dorm or home atmosphere.  In general the ability to gain a place of solitude.  The ability to engage peer reviewed study session and the ability to socially interact with other student was an important part of the motivational process.  The environmental atmosphere was also important in terms of motivation. Seeing others gained in similar activities facilitated getting the job done without any unnecessary distractions.  The library attracted a large range of people and this was not skewed from either a race, ethnic or cultural background. All the range of interviewees shared similar levels of opinion.

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