Introducing the student rapporteurs

Our sponsors have generously supported six PhD students to attend the LIS Research Coalition conference as student rapporteurs. The rapporteurs will be undertaking various duties on Monday 28th June, including helping to distill the various conversations and debates of the day so that we – as a community – can consider how to tackle the priority issues related to LIS research in practice.

The students are all keen to share their research and to network with experienced LIS researchers throughout the event, so please do try to talk with them if you are attending. Here is a brief introduction to each of them to give you a taste of their wide-ranging interests.

Liz Brewster (Twitter: @lizzyab)
Department of Information Studies, University of SheffieldPhD Title: Strategic aims and service user needs in bibliotherapy schemes in UK public libraries

Liz’s research examines the impact of bibliotherapy schemes in UK public libraries. These schemes use books to help people with mild to moderate mental health problems. Liz’s aim is to focus on user experiences of bibliotherapy schemes, with reference to their strategic aims. The research will identify potential gaps in service provision, with suggestions for service improvement. As part of her research, Liz is examining: cost effective ways in which bibliotherapy can be administered in partnership between health and library sectors; evidence-based librarianship; and efficient methods of evaluating and benchmarking bibliotherapy schemes, in which ‘soft’ outcomes can be difficult to measure.

Liz says “I find working closely with library service users an enriching experience, and appreciate the chance to discuss this type of research with a varied spectrum of the LIS community. The conference seems to focus on a number of issues highly pertinent to a new researcher, and I feel it would be encouraging to participate in discussions concerned with impact, evidence and funding.”

Charlie Inskip
Department of Information Science, City University (Twitter: @CharlieInskip)PhD Title: Communicating meaning and meeting information need within the music industry

Charlie writes a monthly column on music and LIS issues for CILIP’s Update magazine. He is particularly concerned that the LIS research landscape is constantly shifting to accommodate changes in funding and evaluation, which affects those – like himself – who are approaching the end of a AHRC funded PhD and are looking for new opportunities. Charlie believes that attending conferences such as this one provides an excellent opportunity for new researchers to gain inside knowledge of these developments, and enhances their value to the wider LIS community.

Charlie says “The conference agenda themes of evidence, value and impact are highly topical and relevant across today’s research world. I am keen to increase my understanding of the importance of these issues and the impact they may have on the career development of new researchers such as myself.”

Liz Poirier
Department of Information Science, City UniversityPhD Title: Towards a theory of slow information: time, pleasure and consumption in theories of information behaviour

Liz’s research is concerned with human information behaviour, specifically how we cope, both individually and collectively, in a society characterized by increasingly overwhelming information environments. As information channels accelerate and proliferate, she asks how are we to navigate a successful path to relevant resources and how are those paths depicted in existing theories of information behaviour?

Liz’s experience as a librarian in the higher education sector is informing her approach. This made evident that some key assumptions in existing theories – whereby rapid speed and expansive volume are implicitly framed as the pinnacle of information seeking and use – were not always the primary goals for information users. She was prompted to expose this gap in the literature and explore why it exists.

Liz says “I did not embark on this PhD in order to pursue a life of pure academia, and I have always imagined a hybrid career where research and practice share equal billing, and provide fuel for each other in a reciprocal relationship. The Library and Information Science Research Coalition conference seems a perfect opportunity to explore how this might be possible.”

Hannah Spring (Twitter: @hannahspring101)
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, York St John UniversityPhD Title: Barriers to, and priorities for, research development in health librarianship

Hannah’s study takes the concept of evidence-based health practice and considers this in context with the LIS health research landscape. Whilst the Government agenda for health maintains a requirement for accountability and evidence-based health practice, the health librarians that support the research activities that underpin such agendas are not currently noted for placing focus on working to an evidence-based agenda within their own professional practice. Hannah’s research therefore has two strands. The first is an investigation into the reasons for, and barriers to, lack of engagement in research activity within the health-related LIS professions. The second is an investigation into research priority development, with the aim of contributing to the future strategic development of LIS health research.

Hannah says “Although my background and experience is specific to health librarianship, many of the issues I am investigating are entirely transferrable to a general LIS research audience. The areas of focus highlighted on the conference overview – such as techniques for integrating research activities into everyday work and practice (evidence-based practice), identifying research opportunities, collaboration and publication for instance – are all areas with which I closely identify.”

Charlie Major (Twitter: @vkwn)
Department of Information Science, City UniversityPhD Title: Objectivity and the Gene Ontology: how do biologists working within the e-science paradigm classify theoretical entities?

Charlie’s research project is focused on classification in a specific domain: the classification of ideas, objects and data in biology. He is interested in the schema biologists have developed to structure knowledge in biology, and to aid information retrieval. Charlie believes that the boom in bioinformatics and the trend towards e-science-driven methods beg interesting questions such as “Can a machine be a biologist?” or “Should biological classifications be constructed be consensus?” He is a LIS researcher with an active blog, and a belief that LIS research can be communicated to wider audiences in a style that is both interesting and (heaven forbid!) even funny and entertaining.

Charlie says“The LIS Research Coalition conference looks interesting to me because it puts the emphasis on translating research into practice. What’s the point of a bottle of wine if you haven’t got a corkscrew?
Secondly, the conference also cannot fail to get the LIS juices pumping with a session called ‘One minute madness’, although I am suddenly distracted by an idea for ‘Gong Show’-style challenge where researchers are voted off the lectern with a resounding clang should their presentations fail to keep an expectant audience’s interest.”

(One minute madness presenters will be relieved to hear that we will not be following up Charlie’s interesting proposal!)

Hui-Yun Sung
Department of Information Science, Loughborough UniversityPhD Title: Community engagement in public libraries

Hui-Yun’s research interests are located in community engagement and public libraries. Community engagement is an emerging area in the public librarianship literature, and may be one way to help explain how public libraries can effectively involve communities. Her research aim is to investigate the important elements that help make community engagement work in public libraries.

Hui-Yun says “I hope that by attending the conference that I will be able to identify research opportunities in the LIS for my future career from listening to keynote presentations and various speeches by both academics and experienced practitioners in relevant areas. In addition, I will learn how to translate my research outcomes into practice to make them more applicable for public library services.”

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