Student Collin Rickman Investigates Youth Spaces Design with Grant-Funded Research Team

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San José State University School of Information student Collin Rickman is gaining valuable experience in research and virtual collaboration as a member of a major grant-funded research study.

Rickman is one of four student research assistants working on the Making Space for Young Adults in Public Libraries project, an IMLS-funded study directed by iSchool Associate Professor Dr. Anthony Bernier. The three-year project will document and analyze current approaches to planning and building public library spaces for teens and help libraries create more equitable young adult (YA) spaces.

The first phase of the project focuses on data collection and analysis from each of the 700 libraries featured in the special architectural issues of Library Journal between 2006 and 2010. Rickman distributed two mass electronic surveys to investigate how the needs of librarians and YA patrons were addressed through the design or remodel of their young adult spaces.

“My primary responsibilities on the project included distributing the surveys, handling any incoming correspondence, performing administrative tasks, trouble-shooting technical issues, and responding to questions and comments from the libraries,” Rickman explained. “Now that all the surveys have been completed, I’m also working with my supervisor Dr. Mike Males to sift through all the data and analyze this information.”

The project team will share these survey findings, along with data gathered from ethnographic video interviews, through professional publications and conference presentations. Another major project goal is to use the data to create interactive representations of young adult spaces in the Second Life virtual environment.

Rickman joined the research team in May 2011, only a few months after enrolling as a student at iSchool. “I live in Washington State, and the project is a great way to interact with faculty members and other students no matter where they are located,” he said. “I was also interested in developing my research and virtual communication skills and learning about another area of library services.”

Rickman shared his experiences with the project during a panel presentation at the Library 2.011 Worldwide Virtual Conference in November 2011. He joined Dr. Bernier and his fellow student research assistants to discuss how SLIS students can become involved with research projects and gain professional experience in the field.

Rickman first got his start in library and information science as a teenager working in his local library’s circulation department. After earning his BA in Digital Technology and Culture from Washington State University he realized he wanted to pursue librarianship as a career. “A lot of my personal interests align with library and information science; I like books, music, art, film,” he said. “But on a deeper level, the ideals of library science appeal to me. The library is a place where people from all classes and walks of life can come together to pursue a common goal of education and self-improvement. That was what brought me back.”

Rickman is taking a full course load at the iSchool and plans to graduate in December 2012. He also volunteers at the Washington State Library and Washington State Archives, where he has been working on indexing, transcription, and processing projects.