Learning Places, Exploring Sites of Association: Negotiating Learning, Relationships and Identities in a Higher Education Library Setting

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Everyday work practices do not exist in a spatial vacuum, but are framed by particular work environments. Evidence-based studies of public learning environments, such as university libraries, have focussed on the organization of these settings for fulfilling the needs of diverse groups in a period of rapid change. However, these are social settings in which work is accomplished, but also through which work-related relationships and identities are formed, negotiated and sustained. This paper argues, therefore, that these settings can be viewed as ‘sites of association’ that enable the development of relationships and identities. Drawing on qualitative data taken from a research project focussing on students’ learning in a UK higher education library setting, the paper explores how normative assumptions and expectations are materialised in architectural forms, signage and rules and regulations and examines how they are conformed to and resisted as students negotiate both their learning practices and their student identities. Moreover, it explores the relationship between these assumptions and expectations and highlights how varying forms of social action, between individuals and groups, creates the potential for conflictual and consensual relationships which are shaped by moral dimensions in the development of collective identity distinctions. Finally, the paper argues that by viewing library settings as ‘Sites of Association’ a more grounded focus on the interconnections between learning environments within educational institutions can expose some of the features associated with changing sites of learning.


Keywords: Learning, Experiences, Relationships, Conflict, Consensus
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Lorraine Allibone

Senior Lecturer, Academic Development Department, Kingston University
Kingtson Upon Thames, London, UK


Dr. Andrew King

Kingston University
UK


Dr. Heidi Seetzen

Kingston University
UK


Ref: L08P0617