DREaM conference special issue of Coalition newsletter now available

In 2012 we are issuing regular newsletters to keep the LIS research community informed of the work of the LIS Research Coalition. The newsletters will be mailed to relevant listservs, and a copy of each one archived on the newsletters page.

The fourth newsletter, which is a special issue devoted to news of the forthcoming DREaM conference at the British Library Conference Centre on Monday 9th July, is issued this week. Our top stories are:

  1. Last chance to book! Registrations for the DREaM conference close on Monday 2nd July
  2. DREaM conference keynote speaker Ben Goldacre features on the Radio 4 Today programme
  3. Sponsored places at the DREaM conference: the winners
  4. Speaker previews of DREaM conference sessions now available
  5. Coming up soon on the Library and Information Science Research Coalition web site

Meet the bursary-winning new professional and PhD student delegates at the DREaM conference

We are very pleased to announce the names of the 10 winners of the travel bursaries offered to new LIS professionals and full-time PhD students to attend the DREaM conference at the British Library on 9th July.

Jean Parris of UWE

  • Graeme Brown – PhD student, University of Strathclyde, PhD title: “Place-making in digital space: public libraries and social capital”.
  • Aislinn Conway – Clinical Evidence Based Information Service (CEBIS) Specialist, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.
  • Cate Eastwood – PhD student, Loughborough University, PhD title: “Research article abstracts in the social sciences: a genre-based analysis”.
  • Anthony McKeown – PhD student at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, PhD title: “Information and communication poverty in Northern Ireland”.
  • Kristin Meredith-Galley – PhD Research Student at Loughborough University, Loughborough, PhD title: “Do primary school libraries contribute to students’ information literacy skills?
  • Jean Parris – Campus Librarian, University of the West of England.
  • Tom Rogers – Information Librarian, University of Bath Library.
  • Rachel Steele – Clinical/Site Librarian, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Ella Taylor-Smith – PhD student, Napier University in Edinburgh, PhD title: “Participation space studies. How do interpretations of online and offline spaces influence (e)participation in community and civic life?”.
  • Lillian Tsang Phillips – PhD student, Northumbria University. PhD title: “Evolution of librarianship: the changing role of academic information professionals in the 21st century”.

Five of the people listed above – Aislinn, Anthony, Jean, Rachel and Ella – are all members of the DREaM project cadre, and attended all three DREaM workshops between October 2011 and April 2012.

Some of our bursary winners have shared the reasons why they are looking forward to the DREaM conference:

Rachel Steele says that the DREaM project has been extremely beneficial to her, both in the breadth and depth of presentations about some research methodologies that she had not previously heard of, and also in developing external relationships with other DREaM participants. These participants have stimulated her own work by exposing her to new ideas from their working contexts which will – in time – enable her to continually improve her job performance. She feels sure that attendance at the conference will deepen her understanding of research methodologies and allow for further interactions with conference participants which will be invaluable to her.

Lillian Tsang Phillips says that this is her first conference since she starting her PhD so she is really looking forward to meeting colleagues, exchanging ideas and gaining insights from experienced colleagues and guest speakers.

Lillian Tsang Phillips, Tom Rogers and Rachel Steele

Anthony McKweon says that having enjoyed participating at previous DREaM events, which provided the opportunity to network with other PhD students, learn from experienced practitioners, and discuss research and exchange ideas, he is excited about returning to the British Library on July 9th. This event will contributes to his personal and professional development by providing the chance to tell other researchers from the library and information community about what is he doing, get new ideas and see things from other contexts. He believes that learning about how other parts of the UK deliver library and information services is always worthwhile. He adds that he is particularly interested in Professor Carol Tenopir’s presentation on methods for measuring value and impact in libraries. He also has high expectations for the one-minute madness presentations, which he thinks should be very good!

Aislinn Conway says that she is looking forward to returning to the British Library Conference Centre, which has been the venue for two other DREaM events. She is impressed with the range of speakers on the programme, and welcomes the one-minute madness session as a platform for delegate presentations. She believes that the conference will bring together the people who have participated in the DREaM project to date, and looks forward to exploring its very worthy achievements.

Ella Taylor-Smith, Anthony McKeown, Kristin Meredith Galley, and Aislinn Conway

Kristin Meredith-Galley say that PhD work can be an isolating experience, particularly in the first year and that she is looking forward to getting out from behind the desk to join a community of practice at the conference, to exchange ideas, resources and to learn more about best practice in research. To her this is a great opportunity, not only to share her own research in this community, but also to share in the success and excitement of other delegates’ research.

Tom Rogers says that after working for a number of years on a variety of research projects in several different locations he decided that he wanted a career change. He moved into library work in January 2010. He spent about 18 months working as a Library Assistant at the University of Bath, completed a PgDip in Information and Library Management, and then looked for his first professional job. This came to fruition in January 2012, when he started in his current role and began working towards CILIP chartership. Professional library work involves him in variety and change and gives him plenty of opportunity to do the kinds of work that he finds rewarding. When asked why is he looking forward to the conference Tom said that he wants to learn more about the development of a network of practitioner researchers, and he is interested how this may help his professional development. He also wants to discover the main research themes and questions that conference delegates and speakers see as important and reflect upon how they compare to his own list of interests. He is hoping to learn about academic and practitioner research in areas such as: operations, marketing and strategy management in libraries; digital media and technology supported learning; learning and teaching of information and library skills; design of library spaces—technological and organisational, physical and virtual.

Graeme Brown

When we asked Graeme Brown why he was interested in the DREaM conference he said that he was attracted by the programme in general. However, what he is in particularly looking forward to are two presentations. He is interested in Professor Carol Tenopir’s opening keynote because there is a degree of overlap of her themes with parts of his own work. He is also looking forward to hearing Dr Ben Goldacre speak as he enjoys Ben’s discussions of evidence bases and methodologies in the Bad Science blog and liked Ben’s Bad Science book. Graeme says that he is grateful for the chance to attend the concluding DREAM event, learn more about what the project has entailed, and meet and learn from other researchers in the LIS area and beyond.

DREaM keynote speaker Ben Goldacre on BBC Radio 4 Today programme

Dr Ben Goldacre (copyright Rhys Stacker 2009)

Dr Ben Goldacre (copyright Rhys Stacker 2009)

This morning Ben Goldacre – author, broadcaster, medical doctor, academic and keynote speaker at our forthcoming DREaM project conference at the British Library on 9th July – gave an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. In it he discussed a report from the Behaviour Insight Unit of the Cabinet Office which suggests that government policy initiatives should be subject to the same kind of randomised control trials used to test new medicines and new ways of doing business.

The interview is available online on the Today programme’s web site. Ben writes about the report on the Bad Science web site in his posting entitled Here’s our Cabinet Office paper on randomised trials of government policies. Read it.

If you would like to hear Ben speak in person, there are still some places available for the DREaM project conference on Monday 9th July at the British Library, but hurry – registrations close next Monday.

DREaM 5 speaker insight: Charles Oppenheim

Charles Oppenheim

Professor Charles Oppenheim

In the fifth of our DREaM Conference preview posts, Charles Oppenheim sums up the DREaM project so far from his perspective and describes the legacy he hopes the project will leave for the LIS community.
 

Professor Charles Oppenheim is a co-investigator of the DREaM project. He is also a member of the Legal Advisory Board of the European Commission, and of the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance.
 
 
 

This is the last of the five DREaM events. How have the events gone so far?

 

I have attended three of the four previous events. Based upon my experience of those three, plus reports of the one I missed, the series has been extremely successful in bringing together a cadre of LIS researchers of varying ages, experience and backgrounds, and introducing them to novel research techniques that they may not have considered before.

 

What can delegates expect at this event: what will they recognise from previous events, what’s new?

 

This will be more of a rounding up event – it will inform delegates about the key results of the DREaM project so far, and will provide them with an exciting vision of the importance of research to LIS in influencing policy and practice. I very much hope that Ben Goldacre will provide an inspirational send off.

 

What are your hopes for the future of the UK network of LIS researchers after the DREaM project ends?

 

I hope that this is just the beginning and that, in conjunction with the Library and Information Research Group (LIRG), a new generation of enthusiastic and competent LIS researchers will emerge and be self-sustaining through what will be, in effect, a community of practice.

 
Charles Oppenheim will be chairing the afternoon sessions at the DREaM Conference at the British Library on Monday 9th July. For full details about the conference programme and to book a place, please see the conference web page.

Re-engaging with research: some thoughts from the Library and Information Research Group

Ronan O'Beirne

Ronan O’Beirne

Ronan O’Beirne, Chair of CILIP’s Library and Information Research Group – LIRG and member of the Board of Directors of the LIS Research Coalition – has contributed a guest blog post on the research and librarianship, and the role of LIRG. If you would like to meet Ronan, he will be at the British Library on Monday 9th July to attend the DREaM conference, and to chair the LIRG AGM, which follows the formal sessions of the DREaM conference. Ronan writes:

The Library and Information Research Group – LIRG, a special interest group of CILIP – believes that research, in all its many manifestations, should be an essential dimension of librarianship.

Indeed LIRG believes that research can be an important and powerful weapon in the librarian’s arsenal and, as such, we champion the use of research across all sectors of the profession. More specifically, and through its various activities, LIRG aims to raise the profile and to influence the direction of research within the world of libraries. Founded 35 years ago in 1977, the group continues to be engaged with three main aims:

  1. promoting the dissemination of sound research methodology and results;
  2. assisting in the development of emerging researchers;
  3. enabling networking between researchers.

Of course back in 1977 there was no such thing a tweeting or blogging, but a company called Apple was incorporated in the US and – in response the Commodore PET, with 8kb of RAM – came to be the first “all-in-one” computer. From then on everything changed utterly and the terrible beauty of the Internet was born. The library profession and the substance of what the library does, or is, fundamentally changed.

A necessary question that follows this is how has research changed? Academic and scientific research can be seen, with the notion of mode 2 knowledge production, to have become more context-driven and solution-focused. Knowledge itself has become the product of research and its “transfer”, within an increasingly market-driven higher education, forms the unit of production upon which is based a new “academic capitalism”. Models such as the triple helix see government, academia and private business exploiting research. Where might LIS research fit in with models such as these?

More recently, with the abundance of networked information systems, the ability to disseminate research globally with the press of a button has challenged traditional scarcity models of publishing and given rise to new forms of scholarly communication. Certainly librarians continue to play an important part in innovations such as open access journals and institutional repositories.

Yet, while the impact of the Internet and technology on research approaches has been profound, the nature of LIS research has perhaps not kept pace. Indeed, in his keynote address at the launch of the DREaM project Blaise Cronin lamented the quality of LIS research and noted that very much of what might pass as research is not research that can be usefully applied. He uses the term “theoretical bricolage” to illustrate how the results of the many “cookie cutter” research projects fail to contribute to theory, and seem to take a piece of theory from here and from there in an almost haphazard way.

From a social justice perspective more qualitative research is needed, particularly in relation to the public library, and also with regard to the need for a greater emphasis on digital literacy and citizenship. Public libraries – and for that matter school libraries – so often accused of not engaging with research, may be excused because frequently “the research game” is sold to them from a singularly higher education academic viewpoint. Moreover, as the evidence-based policy-making of today’s neo-liberalism manifests itself in a managerialism intent on counting the cost of everything within the public sector generally, public librarians specifically will tell you that within local authority library departments datasets on, for example, numbers of book loans become the evidence used to justify library closures. Such an approach is a poor advertisement for the research that actually needs to be undertaken in public, school and college libraries. There has to be a hope and expectation that through a range of different research approaches we might get to a deeper, more honest understanding of our profession.

We know from the response to our regularly held events that there are many enthusiastic researchers within our ranks keen to make a positive contribution to the knowledge. If issues such as those mentioned above interest you, then take a look at the LIRG web site or dip into our open access journal Library and Information Research (LIR) to get a better insight into the work of this group. I’m sure you will be surprised.

The 2012 AGM of the The Library and Information Research Group will be held on 9th July at the British Library at the end of the DREaM conference. All-comers are welcome.

LIS Research Linking System prototype

Christine Irving introduces Maja Ilievska to afternoon tea

Maja Ilievska has just completed the second week of her summer placement working with Hazel Hall, Christine Irving and Peter Cruickshank on LIS Research Coalition projects. She says that she is enjoying the work and learning a lot. Maja is particularly looking forward to participating at the DREaM project conference, especially for the opportunity of meeting new people involved in the LIS community and sharing experiences with them. (Maja has also been getting used to our strange UK “summer” weather and taken to drinking tea!)

In the meantime Maja is working on an individual project. She is now in the position to share some information about the work that she hopes to complete. She’s written a proposal, the focus of which is how to address the question:

What would be a good system to serve as a central community-maintained access point to link to useful information about LIS practitioner research work and other “small” projects?

In the next four weeks Maja will create a prototype LIS Research Linking System. She hopes that this might be developed into a working model that will provide LIS practitioners access to the research of others that would be useful in helping them improve their practice.

Maja has identified a couple of stages for her project. The first is to research the “market” through observing activities in the JISC LIS mailing groups. The lists comprise a valuable source of information on how LIS practitioners work together to solve “small” research questions in an informal and practical way. Typically this is done by individuals: (1) posting a question to a mailing list; (2) gathering data from others who offer their opinions, expertise, and stories of their own experience of the matter in question; (3) analysing the data gathered; then (4) (sometimes, but not always) posting a summary of the findings to the list. Maja is also interested in identifying other online resources that outline smaller (and often unfunded) research projects, such as descriptions of workplace research in individuals’ blog postings, or relevant Masters dissertations that have been made available on the Web. The second stage of Maja’s project will be to choose a suitable platform that could link to these primary sources of research output. In this stage of the work special attention will be paid to existing models for the implementation of other collaborations amongst the LIS community such as the semi-annual Library day in a life and the LIS Publications wikis. A blog or other similar tool may also be a possibility.

Having done this work the next stage will be to ask people who have completed – or who are working on – LIS research projects of the nature described above to contribute to the community approach by linking their research to the new system. At the end of her placement Maja hopes that she will be able to say that she has a prototype system functioning as a community-maintained resource that could be developed further to provide a valuable tool to help LIS practitioners access research in the fields of their interest.

Maja is mindful that she only has a few weeks to work on this project (she leaves her placement on 20th July) so she may not be able to meet all her objectives. However she will try her best to contribute an insight into a possible solution to the problem that practitioners face when trying to access information about smaller and more informal LIS research output.

Maja is looking for feedback on these ideas and is open to new ideas and suggestions. If you would like to make a comment on her project please do so here. Alternatively you can contact Maja by e-mail at m.ilievska@napier.ac.uk, on Twitter at @MajaNapier, or meet her in person at the DREaM conference at the British Library in London on Monday 9th July.

DREaM 5 speaker insight: Jo Alcock

Jo Alcock

In the fourth of our DREaM Conference preview posts, Jo Alcock describes her experiences as a member of the DREaM workshop cadre and explains what she hopes to bring to the panel discussion …and so the DREaM goes on: means of sustaining the UK network of LIS researchers.
 

Jo Alcock is researcher at Evidence Base, Birmingham City University. She is currently working towards CILIP Chartership and is Chair of CILIP West Midlands Branch.
 
 
 

How have you been involved in the DREaM project to date?

I attended the DREaM opening conference last July and as a relatively new LIS researcher was keen to be involved in the project. I was fortunate enough to be able to be part of the ‘cadre’ of researchers and practitioners attending the series of workshops in Edinburgh and London. I’ve learnt a lot from these and am looking forward to putting some of what I’ve learnt into practice in my research. In addition I have had the opportunity to present on my research during the participant-led sections of the workshops, as can be seen in the video of the “unconference” half hour session at the October 2011 workshop. I have also formed new connections and strengthened existing connections with others interested in LIS research.

Why are you participating in the conference?

I was invited to attend the conference and participate as part of the afternoon panel session as a representative of the DREaM workshop cadre. I hope I’ll be able to contribute both my own opinions and that of my fellow cadre members regarding the future of LIS research.

The title of the afternoon panel session at the conference is “…and so the DREaM goes on: means of sustaining the UK network of LIS researchers”. Why is it important that the UK network of LIS researchers is sustained, and what do you anticipate we will be discussed in the panel session?

Many of the reasons the LIS Research Coalition was established are still true, particularly the gap between LIS researchers and LIS practitioners, and the lack of cohesion within LIS research. Though the work of the LIS Research Coalition has made great steps towards improving this, there is still work to be done. As a current researcher and previous practitioner, I’d like to think that as a profession we can continue to take forward the good work started by the LIS Research Coalition and strengthen the connections and collaboration within LIS research itself, and between research and practice. I hope the afternoon panel will be able to conclude with some actions for us all to take forward to help build and sustain a network of LIS researchers.

Jo Alcock will be participating in a panel discussion entitled: …and so the DREaM goes on: means of sustaining the UK network of LIS researchers at the DREaM Conference at the British Library on Monday 9th July. For full details about the conference programme and to book a place, please see the conference web page.