First Generation Students’ Experiences and Perceptions of an Academic Library’s Physical Spaces

Schultz et al. / Weave / Apr 17, 2023

student studying in the library

There remains a lack of literature looking at how first-generation students experience and feel about academic library spaces. The authors sought to help fill this gap by conducting a mixed-methods research study at a large university. The authors surveyed current first-generation students about their experiences with the institution’s physical libraries and if they felt safe and culturally welcomed. They then explored the results through semi-structured interviews to further develop themes. The authors found that while many first-generation students reported feeling safe in most of the library spaces, many still reported they did not always feel safe, although how they defined “safe” differed. Also, students expressed differing preferences for what they wanted from the physical spaces, emphasizing the need for libraries to cater to diverse study habits. Data show students used the library spaces to get in the right frame of mind for studying; however, uncertainty remains about where they are allowed.