Non-Participant Observation the Setting I Have Chosen Essay

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Non-Participant Observation

The setting I have chosen is the first floor of the public library. The first floor is at street level. People can walk in and go to the elevator, which is on the right-hand side. They can also go straight ahead to the staircase. To get to the main reading room and circulation area, where I am situated, they take a left. There is no security check to get through; patrons simply walk in and out without having to wait in line or have their belongings checked.

The main reading room and circulation area is a single, large, high-ceilinged room, giving the feeling of spaciousness. The layout is simple. There are bookcases along all three walls, as would be expected, except for one wall where there are windows. Underneath the windows there are carts of books waiting to be shelved. These carts are somewhat messy, with uneven piles that look like they might tip over if someone were to push them the wrong way.

The bookcases against the wall are built-in. They are full and appear to be neatly organized. One half of one wall contains DVDs, which are organized alphabetically. The DVDs are not all in place; some are resting on top of others. The rest of the shelves are filled with books, mostly hard-cover but with some soft-cover books mixed in. The furniture consists of mostly bookshelves, tables, and chairs. There is also the librarians' station, which takes up a large portion of one corner of the room. The furniture here is a mixture of desks and wooden counters where patrons can check out books or seek information.

There is a tall, wide table that contains computer terminals for patrons to use. There are no chairs. The computers are meant to be used standing up. There are four computers. Next to each computer monitor there is a small box with bits of scrap paper, and another small box that contains pencils. The pencils are small and not very sharp; they do not have erasers.

The temperature in the library is comfortable, and the noise level is very low, as one might expect. Once in a while a cell phone rings, but it is quickly turned down or off. The atmosphere is generally relaxed, although there is clearly a sense that talking is not welcome. When people speak, it is generally in a low tone of voice or in a whisper.

People: Staff

The library appears to be busy. There are about thirty people on this floor. Four of them seem to be librarians who work behind the main desk. The librarians are three women and one man. Two of the women are African-American and one is Caucasian. The male librarian is Caucasian. They all appear to be middle-age or older. They are dressed neatly in casual attire. There are two assistant librarians, perhaps volunteers, who are busy shelving books. They are younger and dressed in jeans and tee shirts. There is also one security guard. He is tall and African-American. He wears a uniform and he seems to stand in one location most of the time, although about once per half hour he walks around the perimeter of the room. When a cell phone rings, he heads in the direction of the noise and sometimes warns the person that cell phone use is not allowed in the library, and that if the person wants to use the phone they will have to step outside.

People: Patrons

The people seem to be a variety of ages and socioeconomic status, and genders. While I am here, there seem to be more females than males. They are dressed in all kinds of outfits, mostly jeans and casual clothing. No one seems to be very dressed up. They are a variety of races. Some stay for twenty minutes or more. A few come in quickly to consult the computer or ask a question, then they leave to go to the elevator or the staircase. The library has four floors, and this is the main one.


Although it is a library and one associates quiet activity with the library, people walk in and out of the entrance area and in…[continue]


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