Data gathering

This activity was one that I thought would be Interesting but, to be honest, It wasn’t one In which I entered with a lot of expectations. I wasn’t really sure what would happen so I tried to approach the exercise with an open mind. My perceptions of the library did change from this exercise.

Prior to this observation I have always just kind of used the library. I have used it a lot, but generally I will do all of my searches online. Thus, when using the library, I often go with Information In hand and looking for a specific area.I have never really stopped to take a look. The only time I have spent time In the library working on a paper, I Intentionally secluded myself. I didn’t necessarily have a specific emotional attachment to this library but I do have an emotional connection to libraries in general. I have always seen them as inviting places. In my mind they were places where people would come together and where there was not only a lot of Information and books but also a place where there was fun to be had.

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I have always associated libraries as a place of interaction.While I would not say that this library doesn’t allow interactions, and I am not going to state that there aren’t parts of the library that aren’t vibrant, because there are, on this given occasion, there was very little meaningful interaction to be had. The people in the library, and there were quite a few, spent most of their time working to maintain a separation from each other. This is a sign of productivity, but there s more to It. I had never truly stopped to look at the environment. Which Is a little hard.

Everything s made of a hard substance and most of the furniture and art use strong angles. Everything is built around movement patterns or movement in general. There are few places which encourage face-to-face, comfortable interaction. It makes sense, though, that this particular section of the library is designed in this way as it is the main lobby and the place where much of the “business” of the library Is conducted. This area Is more about function than form.

There were several challenges in representing this place but few in the observation itself.The library is in an easy and close location; therefore, getting there was not a problem. The people in the library generally didn’t mind my presence, which also made the observation relatively easy to conduct. There were a few people that acknowledged my presence and only one that looked even remotely disturbed. The people there were either busy or just assumed that I too was dong something academic.

I could also sit a little off to the side at one of the tables which made the observing simple. I was able to be close to the “action” while be out of the way.There was no physical danger or even physical discomfort with this observation.

The main challenge, as the battery in my computer was dead, was taking legible notes. I did have a very hard time writing down anything In the reflection category while observing, so the column for what I was seeing was much more full. The When I didn’t find what I was expecting to find, I had to make sure that I was being accurate in my records and in my reflection. It really isn’t easy to separate your own experience from the observation.I now have a much greater understanding of the politics of location, and this was with a very small, easy, and relatively simple observation. As a researcher, I have learned more about how I feel about libraries in general. It wasn’t until what I expected wasn’t there that I was forced to ask why and to acknowledge my perceptions and biases.

I learned other things as well. I learned that I can get distracted. I learned that I am not able to write as fast as I think and see. I learned that I can easily get caught up in the details, which means that from time to mime I lose sight of the bigger observation.

My observation skills aren’t great, but they aren’t horrible either. I am a pretty perceptive person and I tend to pick up on a lot little things. The problem is, as I Just mentioned, I can become focused and fixated on one area or part of the observation which is fine if that is the goal, but not so good if I need to see a broader set of happenings. My note taking skills are not so good. If I need to do more extended observations, I need to develop a code of sorts. Right now I am forced to write everything out.

I have also learned that the vertical columns don’t work for me. I need to develop system that is a little more organic?something where I can create more of a visual representation of the ideas and/or events. This has been a very interesting activity. I have learned that this is not an easy form of research. I like the inquiry based style that the observation lends itself to, but I need to find a way to compensate for some of my problems with annotating.

Likewise, it really is very surprising that there was a danger of bias even with this observation.