Susan E. Montgomery (2011) Quantitative vs. qualitative – do different research methods give us consistent information about our users and their library space needs? Library and Information Research Volume 35 Number 111 2011
Assessment of how library patrons use space and the evaluation of their needs has become a “hot” topic in library research. But determining the best way to obtain information about their activity can be a challenge. Two types of data collection are quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data provides a numerical count of what activities students perform within the library and therefore can be measured. Qualitative data gives personal opinions, feedback and individual perspectives regarding a topic but is not measurable. In this study, we were interested to learn if we would get substantially different results from a user observation study, a quantitative method, than from the results of asking users about their library space needs, a qualitative method. Essentially, would the results from both methods provide complementary results enabling us to obtain a comprehensive picture about our patrons’ needs and redesign the space to improve their library experience?
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