Andrew Asher and Lynda Duke on the Changing Role of Libraries

2:00pm - 3:00pm EDT April 3, 2013

Leaders of the ERIAL project outline recent ethnographic research on digital literacy and discovery services, highlighting its impact and describing the concrete effects of institutional changes that it informs. (Times EDT)

Andrew Asher of Indiana University (formerly a Council on Library and Information Resources Fellow at Bucknell University) and Lynda Duke of Illinois Wesleyan University made headlines in 2011 with their report from the ERIAL study. Their ethnographic study of students’ research habits illustrated for many that the popular conception of the digital native was a myth. Students need a great deal of help navigating the research resources available. Since then, they have expanded on this research to look at the biases of new omnibox discovery services, further complicating our understanding of the information ecology contemporary students must navigate. This seminar will demonstrate the effectiveness of this ethnographic research, looking at specific institutional steps informed by it that have produced important results at small liberal arts colleges. It will also discuss a toolkit for ethnographic methods, constructed by Asher and Susan Miller during the ERIAL Project, that can guide others in undertaking similar research and program development.

Suggested Reading
  • Andrew Asher is the Assessment Librarian at Indiana University at Bloomington, where he leads the libraries’ qualitative and quantitative assessment programs and conducts research on the information practices of students and faculty. Asher’s most recent projects have examined how “discovery” search tools influence undergraduates’ research processes, and how university researchers manage, utilize, and preserve their research data. An ethnographer and anthropologist by vocation, Asher holds a Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has written and presented widely on using ethnography in academic libraries, including the co-edited volume, College Libraries and Student Cultures (ALA Editions, 2012). 
  • Lynda Duke is associate professor and academic outreach librarian at Illinois Wesleyan University. She coordinates assessment and outreach activities for the Ames Library, and serves as the liaison to the Hispanic studies, economics, and business administration departments. She was the principal investigator for the IWU research team for the ERIAL Project. Duke earned her master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her master’s of urban planning from the University of Michigan.
About the Future of the Liberal Arts College Library series

The Future of the Liberal Arts College Library seminar series is part of NITLE’s continuing effort to engage members of the NITLE Network in conversation around this important topic. Over the course of the year, the series will bring librarians, faculty, and interested others from NITLE’s member campuses together to explore principal elements: What is the future of the liberal arts? the future of the liberal arts college? the future of the library? 

By asking these questions, exploring potential answers, and engaging stakeholders from across the NITLE Network in sharing their diverse perspectives, we prepare the groundwork for moving on to the next step: joint and individual action. These discussions are aimed at inspiring and guiding us in strategically crafting campus policy that supports intra- and inter-campus collaborative connections. Ideas generated and feedback gathered via this seminar series will inform development of NITLE Shared Libraries.

Because broad engagement across diverse viewpoints is key to developing strategies that are actually effective in the long run, we encourage stakeholders from member campuses to participate regularly in this seminar series, recruit campus colleagues to join the discussion, and to use seminar discussions as fuel for ongoing conversation on campus.

Series Hashtag

Participants are encouraged to share their thoughts on Twitter via this series’ hashtag: #LAClibrary.


Faculty, librarians, instructional technologists, and others are invited to attend: attendance by institutional teams is strongly encouraged. Individuals are also welcome to participate.

Please register online by Monday, April 1, 2013. This NITLE Shared Academics seminar is an open-house event for both member and non-member institutions. All active member institutions of the NITLE Network as well as institutions considering membership are invited to attend free of charge, as space allows.


For more information about this event, please contact Sean Johnson Andrews at

NITLE Shared AcademicsTM models a new approach to liberal education – made possible through strategic collaboration, driven by shared knowledge, and supported by emerging technologies. Campuses learn how inter-institutional academic exchange works by actively participating in it, building the knowledge and experience to re-architect liberal education.