EBLIP6 report: day 3, Thursday 30th June 2011

Our final EBLIP6 review is by Paolo Gardois, a PhD student at Sheffield University (@paologardois). Paolo reports on Thursday 30th June…

EBLIP6 tweeters and bloggers

Three of the LIS Research Coalition sponsored delegates eagerly await Thursday's keynote: Dr Katie Fraser, Katrina Dalziel & Paolo Gardois

Professor Hazel Hall opened the final day of EBLIP6 in Salford with a thought-provoking keynote speech on impact. Both patrons and managers demand services that really make a difference, and impact may take different forms: from changing users’ information behaviours to assessing academic impact through bibliometric measures, or evaluating services based on specific outcome measures, especially in the academic sector. Also, impact is very difficult to measure and evaluate. The impact of research on practice, for example, is often dependent on the cumulative and indirect effect of practitioners’ exposure to research output. Impact counts, anyway! In the current economic climate, research must demonstrate that it actually has an impact on practice, and the research–practice gap should be bridged, or at least reduced. Hazel then shared with the audience evidence emerging from the LIS Research Coalition’s RiLIES project which is due to report later this year. Several factors play a key role in increasing research uptake by practitioners: quality, scale and applicability of research itself; means of face-to-face dissemination; availability of accessible textual sources to be used as a reference in daily practice; high profile dissemination partners; and – last but not least – individuals who act as research connectors, as well as social media. Hazel finished her presentation by referring to the question “What difference does it make?” appropriately citing the Smiths, whose Salford Lads’ Club photograph is now one of the most iconic in British music history.

Later in the morning, parallel section 6 focused on a range of topics: (1) web-based services to enhance users’ experience of library services; (2) analysis of electronic resources usage by patrons as a key indicator of value generated by academic library services; (3) the development of evidence-based services in academic and health libraries, and their impact on quality improvement. As budgets shrink and patrons’ expectations rise, all three sessions offered really useful tools to improve service provision and demonstrate value for money.

The session before lunch showed an innovative and interactive format: the LIS Research Coalition organised a panel session involving LIS practitioners and journal editors.

Meet the editors

Panel members at the Meet the Editors session at EBLIP6: Professor Dick Hartley, Val Skelton, Dr Miggie Pickton, Denise Koufogiannakis, Dr Christine Urquhart

The session aimed to improve communication between the two parties and help information professionals plan the publication of their work with a better understanding of the goals and practical steps involved in editorial processes. For example, the editors advised the careful project-management of any potential publication, paying close attention to the information needs of the target journal’s audience, and not to underestimate the value of what professionals have to say to their colleagues and peers. Aiming for a high standard of work is important, but the editors encouraged members of the audience not to be obsessed with perfection: peer reviewers can help improve the quality of work submitted with their feedback. Importantly, the peer review process should be viewed as a dialogue during which both parties have a potential to learn. Also worth emphasising was the difference between research and practice-based articles: there are specific LIS journals for both categories. Even negative results, which are rarely published, are of great interest to audiences.

Poster explanation at EBLIP6

Dr Brian Detlor explains the content of his poster to Val Skelton

After a refreshing lunch and a final look at the posters (of amazing variety and really high quality), delegates were ready for the last two sessions of the conference. Parallel session 7 engaged the audience on a wide array of issues related to innovation and development of services, including the role of libraries in the management of scientific datasets, performance measurement techniques such as activities-based costing, methodological reflections on best practices and the uptake of an evidence-based approach in library services, and the available evidence base for evaluating the effectiveness of web 2.0 services. A specific session gauged the progress of evidence based practice in the health sector. Here topics included the value of services offered by NHS libraries, the efficient use of bibliographic databases and the impact of clinical librarianship on patient care and organizational objectives.

Then the time came for the closing address by Andrew Booth, who underlined the multidimensional and complex nature of “evidence-based library and information practice”. Virtually all the vocabulary used in the label can be discussed and modified, and the EBLIP6 conference had proved a valuable forum for the concepts to be discussed. Andrew also pondered the future of EBLIP. One key development resides in focusing less on research and randomised controlled trials and more on more on what really needs to be done to improve users’ experience in a really messy world. Andrew referred to the concept of “knowledge interaction”, which accounts for the need for genuine partnership between actors. Picking up on previous speakers’ references to music (keynotes Dr Ross Todd and Professor Hazel Hall had cited Bjork and the Smiths respectively) Andrew recited his own version of the lyrics of the Go-Go’s “My lips are sealed” to close the formal programme. Then awards were conferred and votes of thanks given. Mary Dunne was judged to have presented the best poster, and Kate Davies and Zaana Howard the best paper. Finally it was “Goodbye Salford” after a very interesting and stimulating three days.

SLA 2011 photo album

The LIS Research Coalition’s Hazel Hall has recently returned from the Special Libraries Association conference in Philadelphia. Her place was kindly sponsored by Dow Jones thanks to the award of SLA Europe Information Professional of the Year. It is impossible to capture in a blog post all the activity and energy of the conference, but the photos and captions here may give a flavour of the event. More photos can be found on Flickr. Hazel would like to thank everyone involved in making it possible for her to participate at SLA 2011, especially those who nominated her for the award, Bethan Ruddock of SLA Europe, and Anne Caputo of Dow Jones.

SLA banner

The logo for the conference incorporated the Philadelphia bell

The SLA welcome arch and registration desk

The SLA welcome arch and registration desk

Hazel Hall's badge

Hazel Hall attended SLA2011 thanks to kind sponsorship from Dow Jones

ECCA award winners

Other award winners from Europe included Samuel Wiggins, Natalia Madjarevic, Ned Potter and Chris Cooper

Banner of SLA rising stars

Amongst others from the UK recognised at SLA 2011 was Sara Batts as a "rising star"

Linda Stoddart and Larry Prusak

Larry Prusak's paper sponsored by the Knowledge Management division was one of the conference highlights: Larry is pictured here with Linda Stoddart

Military libraries division sign

SLA divisions and chapters hosted a number of open sessions

Exhibition

As well as the conference sessions, there was a large exhibition to visit

T shirt stall

The exhibition included a variety of stalls

A cartoonist draws Hazel Hall's caricature

A cartoonist draws Hazel Hall's caricature at the exhibition

SLA2012 banner

SLA 2012 takes place in Chicago next July

Discussions of the impact of librarianship research with librarians in Perth

Hazel Hall introduces the focus group

Hazel Hall introduces the focus group

Today team members of the Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study (RiLIES) Hazel Hall, Ella Taylor-Smith and Jenny Gebel travelled to Perth to run a focus group at the AK Bell Library.

The focus group was kindly organised by Elaine Fulton and Rhona Arthur of SLIC (the most recent associate member of the LIS Research Coalition) to take place before a meeting of the Scottish heads of public library services in the afternoon.

Jenny Gebel at the meeting

Jenny Gebel at the meeting

We enjoyed a lively discussion of the impact of UK funded librarianship projects on librarianship practice, with interesting points raised on ease of access (or not) to research output, roles of the librarian, the importance of context to the production and consumption of research, and the value of different dissemination routes. The data collected today will be analysed in full with that collected from the other two focus groups taking place in London on 20th June (with academic librarians) and Salford on 28th June (with medical/health librarians).

The visit to Perth also provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the work of the LIS Research Coalition amongst public librarians, and to encourage participation in the Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) project.

Focus group members discuss how research findings are disseminated

Focus group members discuss how research findings are disseminated

It is hoped that there will be good representation from the public library community at the DREaM project launch conference at the British Library in London on Tuesday 19th July.

We would like to thank everyone for their participation at the RiLIES project focus group in Perth, especially those who travelled from as far away as the Outer Hebrides and Shetland to contribute to the discussion.

Work of the LIS Research Coalition recognised in SLA award

Hazel Hall of the LIS Research Coalition has been announced as the winner the SLA Europe Information Professional Award 2011. The press release about the award recognises Hazel’s work with the LIS Research Coalition. For further information about SLA, please see the SLA Europe web site.

Apply for a Coalition-sponsored place at EBLIP6, Salford, 28-30 June 2011

The LIS Research Coalition is pleased to sponsor four places at the Sixth Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP6) Conference, which takes place in Salford from 27th to 30th June 2011. The places will be awarded to PhD students registered for their doctoral studies at a UK university and LIS practitioners based within the UK.

In exchange for the sponsored places, the award winners will play an active role as members of the LIS Research Coalition rapporteur team at EBLIP6, and contribute reviews of some of the conference sessions that they attend. Hazel Hall, who will be at the conference with her laptop, will add the reviews to the Coalition’s blog over the course of the event.

To apply for a place, please complete an application form (see below), ensuring that you select the one appropriate to your main status: PhD student or LIS practitioner. (If you are studying part-time while working, please use the LIS practitioner form and note your part-time student status on it.) We are interested in receiving applications from candidates who combine a keen interest in LIS research with an ability to grasp the key points of a discussion quickly. Members of our rapporteur team need to be able to synthesise points concisely in writing in order to communicate them effectively to a wider audience. Thus how you express yourself in your application for a sponsored place is as important as your reasons for wishing to attend the conference itself.

NB the awards cover the conference registration fee only. Therefore successful candidates will need to access funding from elsewhere to cover additional expenses such as travel, subsistence and accommodation. Suggested funding sources include the award winners’ home institutions/employers, and the support offered by professional bodies. For example, students will be encouraged to apply for a UKeIG Student Conference Grant. The registration page on the EBLIP6 web site lists a number of other sources of funding that are of relevance to students and practitioners alike.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 2nd May 2011. Applications will be judged soon afterwards and winners notified by the end of May.

Any queries about the awards should be addressed to Hazel Hall.

Application forms

EBLIP6 Conference Award – PhD student application form
EBLIP6 Conference Award – practitioner application form

RiLIES poll – summary of initial findings

As part of the RiLIES project we have just carried out a short initial survey on how LIS professionals find out about research project findings.
LIS RiLIES logo
We hoped to identify (1) the sources that are used by librarians to generate ideas for improvements in library services delivery and (2) any named LIS research projects that have been particularly influential in inspiring changes to practice.

If you took part, we’d like to start by saying thank you!

Here we share some of the results. Please bear in mind, however, that this is a self-selected and relatively small sample so the results cannot be considered to be statistically significant. Instead, we are using the findings to help direct further activities of the project.

Overall, 200 people took the time to complete the poll. Of these 175 have over 5 years experience, 173 are UK-based, and 155 describe themselves holding front-line or managerial roles. So we are pleased to have reached our core target demographic for the poll. However, although we had very good response from academic and health librarians, as the pie chart below shows, the number of public librarians who took part was disappointing. We’re now looking at other options for reaching this important librarian population.

Some findings

Even in this age of social media and e-books, face-to-face contacts (particularly informal networking) are still the key route to learning about new research results.

Even online, ‘traditional’ JISC discussion lists are considered as most useful (even more so amongst managerial and health-sector respondents). In fact they are reported as the leading alternative to face-to-face contact. As far as social media is concerned, practitioner blogs are popular, and in contrast, there is an emphatic lack of interest in virtual reading groups on platforms such as Second Life.

Twitter divided people. A significant number of academic librarian respondents, in particular, reported use of Twitter to both find out about, and report on, research projects. As would be expected, people who use Twitter are also more enthusiastic about it as a source of information. On the other hand, a significant number said that Twitter is blocked by their workplace. This is an issue within the healthcare and government sectors in particular.

Over half the respondents have used mailing lists in their own research work. Conference papers are the most popular route for reporting findings. Academic librarians dominate the more resource-intensive areas of creating peer-reviewed conference papers and writing research project reports. Our relatively high level of activity may, however, simply demonstrate that our poll attracted a more research-active demographic.

Offline, research reports and reading of (printed) news reports in journals are reported as being most useful.

The two graphs below summarise the popularity of sources of information as reported by the academic librarians:

… and healthcare librarians:

Please bear in mind, however, that the limitations of the poll data mean that we cannot do any more than note the variation in sources of information (and this is why we felt that a graph totalling up all the responses would be inappropriate at this stage).

One of the points of this poll was to draw on librarians’ collective inspiration to identify any gaps in our questions, and we were not disappointed! In particular, responses highlighted:

  • The role of professional bodies in networking professionals together.
  • The important role played by intermediaries (such as trainers) in turning research findings into useful information: consultants, trainers, conference speakers etc. and associated artefacts such as books/monographs or training course serve as intermediaries research results to practitioners, even if they are not strictly research-intensive in their own right.
  • The importance of a small number of individuals as information sources, in particular Andrew Booth, Alison Brettle, Phil Bradley, and the LIS Research Coalition’s Hazel Hall.
  • The use of RSS feeds for following multiple sources of information.

Next steps…

The results will contribute to the broad project aim of exploring the extent to which funded librarianship research projects influence library practice.

We have been able to identify some projects which we could potentially use in the case study phase of our work. Also, the results give a direction to potential focus group questions, and who we should involve in our future data collection exercises. For instance, the low number of public librarian contributions at this stage mean that we will have to find other ways to identify their needs and activities.

Finally – 64 people have said they would take part in future research – thank you! We may be in touch later on.

Hazel Hall and Peter Cruickshank

Promotion for Hazel Hall

The LIS Research Coalition’s Hazel Hall has been promoted to the role of Professor within the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University. Further details are available in this news item on the web site of the Institute for Informatics and Digital Innovation.

Online 2010: “the one when it snowed”

Snow!

By the end of the annual Online conference and exhibition each year a couple of themes emerge as dominant. Last year, for example, in the LIS Research Coalition’s review of the Online 2009, we reported that social media and the semantic web had been the key areas of interest. At Online 2010 conversations centered on a range of themes including linked data, the social web, the value and impact of information professionals, and mobile and cloud computing. However, at the forefront of many minds was the UK weather as it deteriorated over the course of the week. In the future we may well be remembering this event as “the one when it snowed”.

Online 2010 exhibition hall at London Olympia

Online 2010 exhibition hall at London Olympia

For visitors to Online from both the UK and beyond snow caused much disruption. There were few people at Olympia whose travel plans were not subject to delay or change for their outward and/or return journeys, and many who had hoped to attend Online 2010 simply did not make it to London at all. As a consequence there were some substitutions on the programme, both in terms of presenters and session chairs. Hazel Hall, for example, expected to deliver her own paper on news from the LIS Research Coalition and chair two others: (1) Winning hearts and minds! Breaking through social media barriers with presentations by Phil Bradley (now on Slideshare), Ulla de Stricker and Bonnie Cheuk; (2) Adding value to library and information services using social media with presentations by Kim Holmberg, Mervi Ahola and Janika Asplund, and Hervé Basset.
Presenters Angela Ashenden, Helen Clegg and Gordon Vala-Webb

Presenters Angela Ashenden, Helen Clegg and Gordon Vala-Webb

In the event, she chaired an additional session – Social media in action: driving forward IM and KM with presentations by Gordon Vala Webb (now on Slideshare), Helen Clegg and Hugo Evans, and Angela Ashenden – and was on standby for other duties should they have arisen. This session has been reviewed by VIP in a posting entitled “Infopros and social media 1: culture or toolkit?“.

Twitter

Those who follow @LISResearch on Twitter will have watched our tweeting from sessions where Hazel was a member of the audience. If you would like to see the full archive of conference tweets, it is available from the Online10 Twapperkeeper set up by Karen Blakeman.

A session tweet on the tweet wall

A session tweet on the tweet wall

From here you can get a flavour of the event, as well as links through to speakers’ slides and some blogged reviews of individual sessions and the conference as a whole. At the event itself there were a number of screens around the conference that displayed the Twitter activity in real time. Tweets referred to the sessions, exhibitors and – inevitably – the snow. As well as hosting the screens, UltraKnowledge kept a record who was most active on Twitter. @LISResearch topped the chart.

Paper highlights

Of the sessions that Hazel attended she particularly enjoyed the discussion of “Web squared” as the successor to Web 2.0, illustrated neatly by Dion Hinchcliffe in the opening keynote paper. Here Dion used a table to compare Web squared’s characteristics with those of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.

Conference chair Stephen Dale and keynote speaker Dion Hinchcliffe

Conference chair Stephen Dale and keynote speaker Dion Hinchcliffe

Bonnie Cheuk’s efforts with social media to protect staff from information overload generated by the “e-mail high five” were entertaining and illustrated the challenges of culture change when implementing social media in the work place. There were three strong presentations from Euan Semple, Lee Bryant and Brian Kelly in the Social media and leadership session on the Tuesday morning, with Euan’s focus on how to move people away from po-faced attitudes to social media, and Lee’s discussion of how information professionals should have a stronger involvement in an area where corporate communications staff often have a hold. Librarians working in higher education are advised to review the video of Brian Kelly’s presentation on the value of cloud services, accessible from his UK Web Focus site. The conference sessions also gave access to many case studies from which librarians and information scientists could learn about good (and sometimes less than optimal) practice in information services delivery.

Ake Nygren spoke about social media and public libraries

Ake Nygren spoke about social media and public libraries

Some of the free sessions were of particular interest, not least because the presentations drew heavily on research evidence. For example, the content of Wednesday afternoon’s Social media spotlight papers by Jakob Harnesk, Hervé Basset, Stephane Goldstein, Geoff Walton, Ake Nygren, and Tomas Baiget derived largely from the results of research projects.

The two papers that followed in the gallery area of the exhibition hall by Annie Mauger of CILIP and Anne Caputo of SLA were also based on the output of research projects. We were particularly pleased when Annie restated in her presentation CILIP’s recognition of the importance of evidence-based research to library and information science.

Congratulations

Hazel was pleased to join in celebrations of success at Online 2010. On the Tuesday afternoon, and just before he was due to take the stage, it was announced that Phil Bradley had been elected Vice President of CILIP for 2011.

Phil Bradley (photo credit Dave Pattern)

Since Hazel was chairing the session in which Phil spoke, she had the honour and pleasure of making the first face-to-face public announcement of Phil’s success.

Later in the afternoon she attended the presentation of the award of Information World Review Information Professional of the Year 2010. Unfortunately the recipient Dave Pattern had been unable to make the journey to London due to the snow, so Karen Blakeman accepted the award on his behalf. For further information on Dave’s well-deserved success, please see the blog post by Brian Kelly. On the Thursday lunchtime we were also pleased to see Stephanie Kenna receive her honorary fellowship of CILIP.

Other reviews

This review of Online 2010 can only reflect the perspective of one participant and, as such, it is limited. For a fuller picture it is worth checking the reviews of others who have reported in detail on individual sessions, as well as the conference as a whole. The blogs postings from the Conference Circuit by Donald T Hawkins provide a good overview starting with Welcome to Live from London – Online Information 2010, as do the posts by Val Skelton and Kat Allen at InfoToday.eu. Val’s summary of What we learnt at Online Information 2010 is particularly interesting. Individuals who have blogged their own experiences of the conference include Mareike Guy and Onlineability. Nancy Davis Kho’s review for VIP focuses on the exhibition, and FreePint’s photos from Online are worth browsing. There are also links to blog postings and photographs from the conference and exhibition on the SLA Europe web site. We look forward to seeing further reviews of the conference in the print media in early 2011.

DREaM project to support creation of UK-wide network of LIS researchers

The LIS Research Coalition is pleased to announce that the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded a £45,000 grant to develop a formal UK-wide network of Library and Information Science (LIS) researchers. Tools The grant has been awarded to Hazel Hall for a project entitled ‘Developing Research Excellence and Methods’ (DREaM). Hazel and her co-investigator Professor Charles Oppenheim will work with representatives of the LIS Research Coalition member organisations to develop a series of training events and resources for LIS researchers. A key goal of the project is to build capacity and capability in the development and implementation of innovative methods and techniques in undertaking LIS research. The project starts in January 2011 and runs to August 2012. The first event will be a conference on Tuesday 19th July 2011 at the British Library Conference Centre in London. Further information about the project is available in a press release on the Media release page.

Catching up with Coalition colleagues in Ireland

The Annual General Meeting of the Library and Information Services Council of Northern Ireland was held on Wednesday 29 September in the Antrim Library. Hazel Hall was delighted to attend as the guest keynote speaker, particularly because it gave her the chance to meet colleagues in Ireland who are now connected to the work of the Coalition through COLICO’s associate membership (as reported here on the Coalition blog in July). The venue for the meeting was also of interest: although the new Antrim Library has been open to the public since February 2010, it was only officially opened last week, as reported by Libraries NI.

Antrim Library

Antrim Library

As part of the formal business of the day some important announcements related to the support of LIS research by LISC in Northern Ireland were made. First, a bursary of £650 to support a Masters student at the University of Ulster has been offered. Secondly, a new prize of £150 will be awarded to an excellent dissertation from the Ulster course. Further details of these awards are available on the LISC NI blog posting about the AGM. Dr Jessica Bates also took the opportunity to update meeting participants on CPD courses for librarians to be held at the University of Ulster in November 2010. These are on demonstrating the impact of library services (8 November) and the use of social media (25 November). Further details are available on the leaflet about the courses.

As well as the business of the AGM, during which LISC NI’s annual report was accepted, the meeting was timetabled to include presentations by four students who are currently completing their Masters dissertations in Library and Information Management at the University of Ulster. Three of the presentations are now available on Slideshare:

Students and staff of the University of Ulster

Ulster student presenters Rita, Anthony, Jackie and Francesca with their tutor Dr Jessica Bates

A fourth student, Francesca Fodale, presented her case study work on the role of the school library in the personal development of pupils. We wish all the students on the course the best for their submissions in December 2010.

The last formal presentation of the day was given by Hazel Hall. It was entitled “The research landscape: the wider context and the LIS Research Coalition Response”. The text below summarises Hazel’s main points. The presentation slides are available on Slideshare.

Hazel began her presentation by explaining how the LIS Research Coalition was set up in 2009 to address a number of concerns expressed by a range of UK LIS research stakeholders. These include: difficulties experienced in identifying sources of funding for new projects, as well as accessing published output of completed projects; the need for improved communication between research funders; and problems that derive when not all members of a professional group recognise the value of research to their work, nor their own skills in conducting research. She then referred to the five main goals of the LIS Research Coalition:

  1. to bring together information about LIS research opportunities and results
  2. to encourage dialogue between research funders
  3. to promote LIS research practitioner research and translation of research outcomes into practice
  4. to articulate a strategic approach to LIS research
  5. to promote the development of research capacity in LIS

Hazel gave a number of reasons why librarians should engage in research-led practice. Of these, she argued that the most important are: (1) to exploit the existing knowledge base for services improvement so that future decisions are made on the basis of real evidence; and (2) to enhance the value of prior research work by capitalising on the investment made in earlier research studies.

Hazel Hall

Hazel Hall makes her presentation

In addition, Hazel highlighted the value of encouraging librarians to undertake practitioner-led research. Of particular significance here is the pressing need for library practitioners to contribute to efforts to enlarge the evidence base that demonstrates the value and impact of library and information services delivery. This is crucial to convince politically important stakeholders of the need for further investment in services provision. Such work needs to extend beyond advocacy (the indisputable “libraries are a good thing” mantra) and the simple measurement of tangibles (for example, transactional data such as issue numbers). What is needed here are demonstrations of actual benefit, for example: how the service has contributed to the reduction of anti-social behaviour or the improvement of literacy amongst the community in a public library setting; how academic library services make a difference to research assessment ratings or improved student experience; or how innovations in information services delivery within a school have contributed to better exam results amongst the pupils.

The drive towards research-led practice, and associated ambitions to enlarge the body of research-active librarians, faces a number of challenges. It was to these that Hazel then turned her attention. Whilst librarians recognise that in theory it is worthwhile to consult the output of earlier research studies as part of decision-making processes, for example in the development of a new service, few would do so as a matter of course. Rather than conduct a formal literature search to access a set of relevant research papers, often they would rely on first-hand experience and professional judgement in an action-orientated approach to their work. Here is interesting to note the irony that specialists in accessing published evidence to help other professionals plan a systematic approach to professional practice fail to do this themselves.

Lack of time is often cited to justify an approach that ignores earlier studies. Hazel argued that this is with good reason. The multidisciplinary nature of librarianship research means that relevant papers are scattered across various domains. In addition, often the most significant source material comprises grey literature, such as unpublished internal studies and summaries of discussions on listservs. This is near impossible to locate, let alone access. In some cases, the most valuable research has not been published at all.

The dearth of accessible published research studies emphasises why practising librarians themselves need to acknowledge their role in contributing to research efforts in librarianship as part of the larger research community that also includes academics, students and other researchers. Currently many librarians simply do not consider research as part of their professional role. This holds true even in cases where they play a lead in the design and implementation of projects which – to an outsider – represent research activity. Much valuable knowledge is lost when such projects end, and their outcomes are disseminated only as far as a local audience, often when they would be of interest to professional colleagues beyond the home authority. Hazel explained how the LIS Research Coalition is therefore working to encourage librarians to reflect on how they may actively contribute to research efforts across the profession, as well as exploit the existing evidence base in their regular work.

The efforts of the LIS Research Coalition acknowledge that the circumstances in which librarians work are often not ideal for the budding practitioner researcher. Time constraints of the practitioner role, low internal support of research activity and poor access to external research support, for example in the form of funding or research mentors, are all relevant external factors here. Individuals may also lack confidence in their own research competence due to limited knowledge of research approaches, coupled with a general failure to recognise their current research activity and skills as such. Hazel explained how the LIS Research Coalition has made publicly accessible a set of resources to save researchers’ time to address these concerns, principally through the web site and the Twitter feed at @LISResearch. She also mentioned how the LIS Research Coalition is involved in advocacy to persuade services managers of the need to support research initiatives; points to resources, as well as supports, events to extend the repertoire of research approaches in library and information science; and leads efforts to improve recognition of research knowledge within the profession. In short, the LIS Research Coalition is a focus for external research support in librarianship and information science.

Hazel also acknowledged that individuals’ engagement in research also meets the personal priorities of staff as professionals. Intellectual stimulation, enjoyment of learning and pride in observing how the integration of research findings into work practice enhance services delivery all contribute to job satisfaction (and, from a manager’s point of view, the retention of talented individuals). Associated with this are career benefits. For example, profiles and reputations may grow on the basis of submissions to the journal and conference literature, and the skills of individuals increase through both formal and informal professional development activity undertaken in practitioner researcher roles. At the same time actual research output supports claims of the value of library and information services to individuals (for example, their social mobility, their educational opportunities), to citizens and society (for example, contributions to the enhancement of local communities, culture and heritage) and specialist user groups (for example, information provision to business to support economic development). A further role of research in this domain is to raise the profile of librarianship as a profession that is evidence-based across all sectors. For all these reasons the LIS Research Coalition facilitates a coordinated and strategic approach to Library and Information Science Research in the UK.

Hazel Hall, Linda Houston and Anne Peoples

Hazel Hall with Linda Houston (Director of LISC NI) and Anne Peoples (lecturer at University of Ulster)

Photo acknowledgements: Dr Jessica Bates

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