Ethnography as pedagogy in library orientations

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Angela Pashia Jessica Critten


Driven by a need to make their library orientations more meaningful, a group of academic librarians used ethnography as a pedagogy to create a series of exercises based on participant observation and reflection. This article describes the value of ethnographic methodology in information literacy (IL) curriculum design, focusing specifically on a case study in which students completed a mapping and observation exercise in a freshman seminar course as their library tour. This assignment was more successful than a previous, more traditional approach to the freshman seminar in which the librarian pointed out elements of the space and then guided students through a subscription database. The new ethnographic approach gave students the opportunity to be critically reflective about how they interacted with their surroundings and also extrapolate what function certain areas of the library space might serve from their experiences.

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How to Cite
PASHIA, Angela; CRITTEN, Jessica. Ethnography as pedagogy in library orientations. Journal of Information Literacy, [S.l.], v. 9, n. 2, p. 84-93, nov. 2015. ISSN 1750-5968. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 01 apr. 2023. doi:
ethnography, library orientations, information literacy, pedagogy, USA, critical information literacy, mapping
Research articles (peer-reviewed articles)