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Reading the academic library : an exploration of the conceived, perceived and lived spaces of the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull

Fallin, Lee


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Dr Lee Fallin
Lecturer in Education Studies & Director of MA Education Programmes


Ourania Filippakou

Carol Azumah Dennis

Josef Ploner

Ruth Slatter


Focusing on the perspectives of ‘library users’, this thesis argues for a reconsideration of dominant conceptions of academic libraries as dusty repositories of books and restrictive study spaces. Using the Brynmor Jones Library (BJL) at the University of Hull, a case study and drawing on Henri Lefebvre’s concepts as of space as conceived, perceived and lived, it asks: How do library users experience library space(s) in the neoliberal university?
To investigate how the BJL is experienced by library users, 11 focus groups were conducted with 40 participants. The focus groups utilised an approach based on LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® which allowed participants to physically represent their conceptualisations of the BJL and their relationship with it. Secondary data from BJL systems; an analysis of BJL spaces and plans; and a total of 57 half-hour observations were used to further explore the research question.
Analysis of the research data has led to the identification of five themes that represent the different facets of academic library space: physical spaces, imagined spaces, social spaces, engagement spaces and discovery spaces. These themes challenge traditional definitions of libraries and redefine them from the perspective of those who use and work within them.
Demonstrating that academic libraries are spaces valued for the creation of new knowledge; support of students and researchers; equality of access to technology and resources; and development of social opportunities for students, it emphasises the importance of academic libraries and is a rallying cry for their protection and continued development within the context of technological advancement, increased competition and reduced funding currently impacting many UK universities.


Fallin, L. (2020). Reading the academic library : an exploration of the conceived, perceived and lived spaces of the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Nov 10, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 24, 2023
Keywords Education
Public URL
Additional Information School of Education, The University of Hull
Award Date Apr 1, 2020


Thesis (7.3 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2020 Fallin, Lee. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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