Building on three years of achievement: the next stages for the LIS Research Coalition community

Dr Michael Jubb

Dr Michael Jubb

Dr Michael Jubb, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Library and Information Science Research Coalition, has contributed the last of our guest blog posts. Here he reflects on the achievements of the LIS Research Coalition over the past three years, and looks to the future. Michael writes:

This will be the penultimate blog post on the LIS Coalition site in its current form. So it’s time to celebrate the Coalition and its achievements, to thank everyone who has been involved in its work, as well as to say a little about what happens next.

The Coalition was established in 2009, as a three-year project funded by the British Library (BL), the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), and the Research Information Network (RIN). Its key aims have been to bring together information about LIS research opportunities and results; to encourage dialogue; to promote practitioner research and the translation of research outcomes into practice; and to promote the development of research capacity. None of us who were involved in setting it up could have foreseen how well the Coalition would succeed in fulfilling those objectives. It has built bridges between research and practice, especially for the academic and medical library communities, and encouraged research-led practice which both enhances the value of research and improves the efficiency and effectiveness of library services.

The DREaM project has been particularly successful in expanding the range of skills for a significant number of LIS researchers, and in developing a network of researchers who can and will work together for the future. The concluding conference for the project on 9 July 2012 was an inspiring event. Work is currently underway to seek follow-on funding for the project so that its success can be extended, particularly in the public library sector.

The two RiLIES projects have explored the extent to which LIS research projects influence library practice in the UK, and the factors that enhance or hinder such influence; and a series of good practice and support materials have been produced.

None of this could have been achieved without the support of all those who have been involved in the Coalition: the members and associates who provided the funding and active engagement and support, but also all of those who have participated and engaged with the Coalition’s work, its events, its projects and its communications. But above all, we need to give thanks to Hazel Hall, who has brought to the job of Executive Secretary all the skill, energy and verve that we could possibly have expected. How she managed to do it all in two days a week – even with some able assistance from Stephanie Kenna – is beyond comprehension. The achievements of the Coalition are largely down to her and her indefatigable efforts on its behalf.

All those achievements will have a life long after the Coalition has ceased to function in a formal sense. I am confident that the communities and relationships that have been forged will continue; and the British Library is going to help to ensure that they do. The current web site will be archived under the Library’s web harvesting programme. But the Library will also create new LIS research resource pages on the BL website, along with facilities for communication via a blog and Twitter. So now it’s up to you to make sure that what the Coalition has created continues as an active community for the future.

Conference review, thanks and resources

Thank you to everyone for their participation in the LIS Research Coalition conference on Monday.

Conference review

The analysis of the conference evaluation forms (49 returned from 81 participants) shows that the event was very well received as a valuable, stimulating and enjoyable day, particularly for making contact with other LIS researchers, learning about on-going projects, and inspiring individuals’ commitment to pursuing their own research objectives. From the LIS Research Coalition’s perspective, the event provided a great opportunity to address its aims related to bringing together information about LIS research in the UK and encouraging dialogue across the members of the LIS research community. Added to this, discussions during the day – particularly in the breakout sessions – have helped identify priority areas for investment of Coalition resources in the coming months.

The majority of delegates who completed the conference evaluation forms rated the conference as a whole as “excellent” or “very good”. The most popular sessions were Andrew Dillon’s opening keynote speech and the set of one minute madness presentations, both of which were rated “excellent” by the majority. Andrew’s presentation attracted comments such as “great keynote” and “excellent – really interesting and fascinating speaker”. There was much enthusiasm in the comments on the one minute madness session which, in a way, reflected the gusto with which the delegates participated in this activity: “One minute madness worked really well – enjoyed this very much. There should be one at every conference!” “One minute madness was brill. How amazing that it actually worked!” Michael Jubb’s introductory presentation was also well received, with the majority rating this session either “excellent” or “very good”. The most common rating for the breakout sessions was “very good”, and for Charles Oppenheim’s closing keynote, described as a “great finale” in a delegate tweet, it was “excellent”.

The choice of venue was also very popular with the delegates: the majority rated the convenience of the location, its comfort and facilities and the catering as “excellent”: “I was very impressed – plush, great air-con, gorgeous food and handy for King’s Cross. Perfect.”

Those who were involved in the conference administration were pleased that most delegates rated the arrangements as “excellent”, both prior to the conference and on the day itself. Particularly appreciated was the additional “social” information provided in advance of the conference which, it is believed, contributed to the friendly atmosphere of the event.

Feedback from our virtual participants, of which there were at least 29 actively following the conference by watching #lisrc10 on Twitter or interacting with the CoverItLive site, also showed enthusiasm for the proceedings of the day.

Conference thanks

Of course, an enormous amount of effort goes into planning a conference such as this, and we owe thanks to all involved. First we are very grateful to the conference sponsors. A special vote thanks is due to our speakers, facilitators, chairs, student rapporteurs, and the brave one minute madness speakers for their contributions on the day, as well as the hard work devoted to preparing for their roles. We should also recognise that without the commitment of the conference programme committee, we would not have enjoyed a range of sessions that was – as one delegate remarked – so “well-designed from the point of view of the flow of different events/formats and from the point of view of engagement/participation”. There are also two individuals whose work behind the scenes deserves special recognition. Stephanie Kenna, amongst other things, contributed much to the marketing of the event. Stella Wisdom managed communications between Event Logistics and the British Library. Stella also liaised with the AV team to ensure that all the speaker presentations were in order, and prepared the tailored handouts that helped guide us through the process of accessing the British Library’s wireless network.

Conference resources

We have spent the past couple of days writing up the conference sessions and posting materials to the Coalition web site. Our live blogger Kirsty Pitkin of T-Consult Ltd worked at amazing speed to edit the video footage and provide the drafts of session reports for Hazel Hall to edit. Those who have agreed to write their own reports of the event, for example for colleagues or for publication, will be particularly pleased to see the full list of resources now available below (also accessible from the conference web page). We will add links to other conference outputs, for example reviews in the professional press and individual participants’ blogs, as these are published.

All the PowerPoint presentations from the conference are also available from the LIS Research Coalition’s Slideshare site. Video footage from the day, including delegate interviews and the one minute madness session, is available from the LIS Research Coalition’s Vimeo site.

Conference taster: meet our speakers and facilitators

In the run-up to Monday’s conference, we have been interviewing speakers and breakout session facilitators to discover more about what they will be covering in their sessions, the key issues to be discussed by the LIS research community at the event, and their hopes for the day as a whole.

Michael JubbMichael Jubb, Opening speaker

“I’m going to say a little about how the Coalition came to be set up, what it is seeking to achieve, and the challenges it faces.

In terms of the LIS research landscape, the big research challenge is to do some rigorous analysis (not advocacy, though we need that as well) on the value of libraries and information services. That means looking hard at the relationships not just between inputs and outputs (the easy bit, though we need to get better at it) but at outcomes, in terms of learning – formal and informal – and research. That’s difficult, but we need to do it.

I’m looking forward to the chance to meet, discuss, and to find the points of intersection of interests and ideas.”

Andrew Dillon, Opening keynote speaker

“I’ll offer a sweeping view of a field that feels threatened yet promises so much, with suggestions to move us all forward!

I consider people – users, consumers, searchers, readers, and creators – to be the most interesting issue on the LIS research landscape. They are always what it is all about, and we should never forget it. I’m most looking forward to sharing ideas with a UK audience as it’s been a long time.”

Anne BriceAnne Brice, Research evidence – breakout session facilitator

“I think research evidence is important because we need to be able to answer the most important questions that our users, practitioners and funders have, and to be sure that we are doing the best we can with the resources we have. It needs to support decision making, expand our understanding and be seen as an essential tool in how we develop and improve our services.

I am looking forward to meeting delegates from all parts of the LIS community, to sharing ideas and solutions, and to having the time to focus on the issues around research evidence without the usual interruptions! Participants at previous workshops have identified a range of barriers to finding and using good quality research evidence, relating to the nature of the evidence base itself, the skills needed to do and use research, or to the working culture or environment. We hope that the breakout sessions will provide an opportunity to hear from lots of different perspectives, and bring different types of knowledge and experience together.”

Michael SteadMichael Stead, Research impact and value – breakout session facilitator

“In my role as a manager in public libraries, the value of research is in its effect on the decision-making process. Good quality research helps me and my colleagues to make the right decisions. In the current economic climate, it’s vitally important that we are as well-informed as we can possibly be: using the right research helps us to do that.

This a great opportunity to find out about the approach taken to research activities across all sectors of the information professions, and I’m confident that there will be a lot of valuable discussion in the breakout sessions. I would personally like to learn more about sources of research funding and how other professionals make research mesh with the day job.”

Val SkeltonVal Skelton, Research impact and value – breakout session facilitator

“I work as co-editor for Business Information Review, which is an international journal for all those who work within organisations helping them achieve maximum value from information – whether externally sourced information or internal knowledge/information/ records. Our aim is to publish articles of practical relevance to our readership. Our contributors include practitioners who work in all sectors. We also publish articles by academics and students, whose research brings insight into the achievements of other organisations and which we believe can stimulate ideas in our readership. For example, our June issue includes an article on creativity, chaos theory and KM, derived from work undertaken for a masters degree. A second article shares the experience of students who participated in a ‘customer driven knowledge factory’, and demonstrates how our readers can engage with internal customers to build knowledge and expertise.

Our readership is constantly focused on how to demonstrate the value and impact of the services they provide to their organisations. Any developments in this area are of critical importance to the journal and to the profession.”

Professor Charles OppenheimCharles Oppenheim, Closing keynote

In the interests of suspense, you will have to wait and see what Charles is going to say in his closing keynote. We feel that we need to keep some surprises for the day! You will be interested to know, however, that aspects of Charles’ presentation will be driven by delegate contributions at the conference on Monday. He did say: “I think the lack of funding and support is the key issue right now; demonstrating value and worth is the key research area that needs to be addressed. The networking opportunities and brainstorming is what interests me the most about this conference.”

You can find out more about all of our speakers, facilitators and session chairs by reading their profiles.

We look forward to hearing delegate views on these themes at the British Library on Monday. For those attending remotely, look out for tweets with the event hashtag #lisrc10, and we’ll watch out for your ideas coming through as you tweet your own contributions to the conference debates.

Coalition conference newsflash 4

The latest news from the LIS Coalition conference planning committee is that Michael Stead, e-Services Team Librarian at Bolton Library and Museum Services, has joined the team of LIS Research Coalition conference facilitators. The faciliators at the afternoon sessions on Monday June 28th thus represent four of the main LIS research stakeholder communities: (1) public libraries – Michael Stead of Bolton Library and Museum Services; (2) the corporate sector – Melanie Goody of TFPL; (3) the health service – Anne Brice of the NHS National Knowledge Service; and (4) research funders – Ailbhe McNabola of the Museum, Library and Archives Council. Our two keynote speakers – Professors Andrew Dillon and Charles Oppenheim – represent academia. David Ball of Bournemouth University and Michael Jubb of the Research Information Network, who will be chairing sessions throughout the day, respectively represent academic libraries and research funders. For further information about the conference please see the the Conference 2010 web page.