Exploring the Wonders of Ethnography for Librarians

Ruth Stubbings & Heather Green

A recent Mercian SDG event saw library staff from across the Mercian region, dipping their toes into the mysteries of applied ethnographic research

The Mercian Collaboration Staff Development Group (SDG) ran a Learning Exchange event on ethnography for service planning in libraries, hosted on Thursday 23 March 2017 at Warwick University Library's Research Exchange. The excellent speakers were drawn from a mix of researchers and practitioner librarians, who shared the different aspects of ethnography they had engaged with in their own work.  Gaz J Johnson (Nottingham Trent), Bryony Ramsden (Huddersfield), Elaine Sykes and Louise Makin (Liverpool John Moores), explored the theoretical underpinnings, before examining the benefits for libraries in undertaking ethnographical studies, focussing especially on methods incorporating semi-structured interviews, cognitive mapping and reflective diaries.  The speakers also kindly outlined how they prepared their research, how it went for real and especially the lessons they had learned.

Afternoon diary coding exercises underway

After lunch, participants were able to try out cognitive mapping and coding diary exercises themselves through a series of group activities, before Ruth Stubbings brought the packed 'practical' and 'fabulous' day to a reflective, and effective, close.