Students Studying Students: An Assessment of using Undergraduate Student Researchers in an Ethnographic Study of Library Use


  • Allyson Washburn
  • Sheila C Bibb



library use assessment, ethnographic methods, student researchers


This paper reports on the use of undergraduate students enrolled in an Applied Anthropology course as researchers for a library use study at Brigham Young University's (BYU) Harold B. Lee Library (HBLL). This is a common practice at BYU, but has not been reported extensively in the literature. The study was carried out by the authors with the assistance of undergraduate students, the students being the researchers and was conducted in order that the HBLL could determine student ideas for reconfiguring some newly opened space in the Periodicals room. Using students assisted the library as well as met a curricular need in the Anthropology course. Ethnographic methods were the primary means used to gather the data. The paper asserts that the peer interaction during the data collection significantly enriched the quality of the data collected.

Author Biographies

Allyson Washburn

Allyson Washburn received an MLIS from Brigham Young University and is Assessment Librarian in the Lee Library at Brigham Young University.

Sheila C Bibb

Sheila C Bibb received an MPhil in Medical Anthropology from the University of Oxford and teaches Anthropology at Brigham Young University.






Refereed Research Articles