Research does not have to mean getting buried in statistics, claims Constance Mellon, and in this unique study she describes an approach to applying the naturalistic inquiry of anthropology and sociology to the field of information science. Drawing on the author's experience in the design of instruction, the book outlines a humanistic and relevant method of naturalistic research whose aim is understanding rather than prediction. Unlike other books on the topic, here the method is directed specifically toward librarianship and its particular needs and problems, and made clear through a series of concrete examples. Not only is it the first book of its kind in the field, but its direct and simple style will make it accessible to everyone from beginners to experienced researchers.
The book explains, in a step-by-step fashion, the various aspects of naturalistic inquiry, with the chapters following an organization similar to the stages of a study. Chapters 1 and 2 provide a background to the theory of such studies, as well as practice studies that can aid new researchers in getting started; chapters 3 through 5 describe the methodology of naturalistic inquiry, including data collection, analysis, and report writing; and the final three chapters present a variety of practical suggestions for applying naturalistic inquiry to the library field. This volume will be an appropriate text for courses in quantitative research methods and library information studies, sociology, anthropology, and education. It will also be a relevant work for librarians and administrators interested in research methods and evaluation, and a valuable addition to both university and public libraries.