Have you used these projects?

As we enter the final phases of the RiLIES project, there are still some opportunities for practitioners and researchers to contribute further to the project. One way is to tell us if you have experience of using any of the project outputs of the case studies that we have considered as part of the RiLIES project.

We are really interested in finding examples of the results of these projects being used in day-to-day practice, or as starting points for other research – such as the inspiration for new projects, or to help develop a report or paper (whether published or not, for example as part of a literature review).

The case studies we have used are:

  • The study on public library policy and social exclusion Open To All coordinated by Dave Muddiman and reported back in 2000.
  • The eValued project in which Pete Dalton and others developed a toolkit to support library and information services staff in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the evaluation of electronic information services (EIS). This work was completed between 2004 and 2006.
  • The Research Information Network’s (RIN) 2006 study into Researchers’ use of academic libraries funded by RIN and CURL and completed by Key Perspectives.
  • The Future of school libraries project carried out by Sue Shaper and David Streatfield for CILIP’s School Libraries Group. This reported its results in 2010.
  • The project entitled Evaluating the impact of clinical librarian services led by Alison Brettle and the North West (England) healthcare librarians group in 2009.

If any of these projects has made an impact on your practice of librarianship, or you have consulted the findings to develop a new project, or a report or paper, we would love to hear from you. Please use the contact form below to tell us. Please be assured that when we use this data in the RilIES project report, individuals will not be identifiable from its content.

If you do not have any experiences to share with us, it’s possible that your colleagues do, so please pass the word around your professional contacts.

Thank you!

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Guest blog entry: the Modernisation Review of Public Libraries and Research by Guy Daines

Guy Daines, Director, Policy & Advocacy at CILIP (one of the LIS Research Coalition members) has contributed this blog entry on the Modernisation Review of Public libraries. Over to Guy…

Most of you will be aware that DCMS (Department of Culture, Media and Sport) published their Modernisation Review of Public libraries on 22 March. I expect fewer will be aware that there are fifty-four proposals in the report, including a number bearing on research. It was heartening to read an acknowledgement of the need for proper data for management purposes as well as the need for broader evidence of impact for advocacy purposes. “If we are to convince local and national leaders and partner organisations of the value of public libraries” the report notes, “we must produce evidence which connects library use to local and national priorities”.

There are eight proposals relating to research (recommendations 46-54). They include extending the DCMS “Taking Part Survey” to include a wider range of questions on public library use and correlating data from that survey and the CIPFA public library statistics with the Local Government Place Survey (that forms part of the Audit Commission’s comprehensive area assessments) – can any relationship between public library use and the satisfaction of local residents be shown? But even better, it is proposed that a consortium of interested parties is brought together to develop a cross-sectoral approach to research on the impact of public libraries. Another proposal recommends using the Understanding Society Panel study – which explores the socio-economic circumstances and attitudes of 100,000 individuals in 40,000 British households – alongside a longitudinal study of respondents from the Taking Part survey to gain a better understanding of the long-term impact of public libraries. Perhaps at last there is a serious commitment to developing the evidence base needed for public libraries.

All good stuff no doubt. But what if a Labour Government is not re-elected? We can only hope that the seeds of understanding have been sown within the DCMS secretariat and that they will be able to convince a future Minister of the importance of research. Comfort perhaps might be taken from the fact that it is not an area of party political contention.

You can find the DCMS report at: http://www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library/consultations/6752.aspx

Six months into the implementation and priorities for future work

Six months have passed since work began in earnest on the implementation of the plans of the LIS Research Coalition. In this time we’ve made progress in meeting the goals related to establishing a structure to facilitate a co-ordinated and strategic approach to LIS research across the UK. For example, the Coalition web site grows steadily as a source of information about LIS research. Equally the Twitter account, @LISResearch, provides regular news feeds on research projects from proposal to publication of results, as well as research opportunities ranging from advertised PhD places to vacancies on high level research-related bodies and committees.

The Coalition has also taken the opportunity to present to external audiences. This has been achieved both at a general
level – as at Online 2009, and in the Coalition response to the consultation on the Research Excellence Framework (REF) – and with reference to concerns of particular user groups, such as the “student experience” focus of the autumn 2009 SCONUL conference. Further conference and meeting contributions are planned for a variety of audiences. We are also looking forward to the LIS Research Coalition’s own conference on Monday 28th June 2010 at the British Library Conference Centre in London. Events – both Coalition and externally organised – are noted on the Coalition web site Events page. We’ve also been busy engaging with the media, attracting coverage of our activities in both the LIS and general press (for example, we’ve had two mentions in Times Higher Education to date). Details of such publishing activity are given on the Media coverage page. It is hoped that these efforts will succeed in the goal of pushing LIS research further up the agenda of the UK LIS community, particularly amongst practitioner colleagues. Longer term it is anticipated that they might result in an improvement in the volume and quality of practitioner research, and the translation of this future research output into practice. Ultimately the research completed should also inform the development of future UK LIS research strategy.

One of the Coalition’s goals is to address current gaps in LIS research activity in the UK. The need to develop a strong evidence base that can be used to demonstrate the value and impact of library and information services has been identified as a priority area. We intend to put resources into addressing this ahead all of other possible research themes. This is on the basis that without easy access to an evidence base that can be used to assess and publicise impact and value, library and information services are rendered vulnerable to cost-cutting exercises. Funders will protect units where contributions to organisational objectives and the bottom line are more clearly artciulated, not least as demonstration of accountability for their own decisions. A second priority is to consider how to provide research methods training opportunities, primarily for the (potentially enlarged) practitioner researcher audience. Currently work is on-going on a funding bid for the provision of a series of events focused on research methods. A further possibile initiative is to run smaller-scale one-off sessions on specific themes of interest to those starting to engage in research activities.

In forthcoming meetings of the Board of Directors of the LIS Research Coalition we will be discussing how we can build on
our initial work to progress it further: there is clearly much more that could be done! The focus of these discussions will be how to ensure that we channel the resources available to the Coalition into activities that deliver real value to the LIS research community in the UK. There will be opportunities for greater participation in the debate on the direction of the Coalition at the LIS Research Coalition conference at the British Library Conference Centre on June 28th 2010. In the meantime members of the UK LIS research community – from established researchers to aspiring new professionals – are invited to respond to the proposals made in this blog posting. Of particular interest would be suggestions on how the work of the Coalition could be developed to meet the needs of practitioner researchers. Responses can be made by leaving comments below, or by e-mailing Hazel Hall directly at hazel.hall@lisresearch.org.