City Research Online

University libraries and the postgraduate student: Physical and virtual spaces

Beard, C. & Bawden, D. (2012). University libraries and the postgraduate student: Physical and virtual spaces. New Library World, 113(9/10), pp. 439-447. doi: 10.1108/03074801211273911


Purpose – This study aims to examine the library/information issues affecting graduate students, both those on taught courses and those undertaking research. It seeks to focus specifically on their perceptions of the value to them of physical and digital resources and spaces, and how well their needs were being met.

Design/methodology/approach – An online questionnaire survey of students was complemented by a series of face-to-face interviews with library staff.

Findings – This group of students are different from undergraduates, whose information behaviour has more often been studied. They require silent study space, are enthusiastic book borrowers, and have limited interest in social media in the library. They have a strong requirement for digital resources and IT support, and are not inclined to ask for assistance from librarians.

Research limitations/implications – The study is limited to three English universities, although they are sufficiently varied in nature to make the results more widely applicable.

Practical implications – The survey provides evidence for librarians in universities and colleges serving graduate students as to the best form of provision, and for any library seeking to make best use of its space as resources become increasingly digital.

Originality/value – This is one of the few studies to examine the information behaviour and needs of advanced students. It contributes to the debate on the future of the library as place in a digital age.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Academic libraries, Graduate students, Information behaviour, Library users, Postgraduate students, Surveys, University libraries, User studies
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Library & Information Science
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