What I’ve Favourited on Twitter Lately pt. 4

By Virginia Wilson, Director
Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP)

I do a lot of liking or ♥-ing on Twitter. Sometimes it’s to acknowledge a tweet or a reply. Often it’s so I can go back and look at whatever is in the tweet in greater detail later. Do I do this? Not as often as I would like. So, I’m going to do it now in front of everyone.

I’m currently working in the Agriculture Building on the U of S campus as liaison librarian for the College of Agriculture and Bioresources and the School of Environment and Sustainability. So, I’ve upped my game in terms of following Ag stuff on Twitter. I’ve favourited a couple of tweets from the Livestock & Forage Centre of Excellence @LFCE_usask. This state of the art research facility had its grand opening on October 9.

@myleejoseph tweeted a link to an article entitled Using ORCID, DOI, and Other Open Identifiers in Research Evaluation. A timely topic and an interesting read.

@ithinkwellHugh suggests that if you want to blog about your research, you don’t need to create your own blog (who has the time??) but you can contribute to someone else’s blog. Hugh Kearns writes a lot about supporting doctoral students and their research which I find pertains a lot to librarians and our research. Follow him! (you can contact me to get your research out there via Brain-Work any time!)

If you’ve wanted to know more about research data management (RDM) @NewRevAcadLib posted a link to a new literature review on librarians and RDM. This paper has been posted in its accepted version and I hope it’s not behind the T&F paywall.

@AprilHathcock posted two pictures from the 3rd National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color. The pictures are the two pages of a selected bibliography shared during a session pertaining to Indigenous research methodologies.

@katelangrell announced that the 2019 ABC Copyright Conference will be held at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Save the date: May 30-31.

The Call for Papers/Posters is out for the 10th International Evidence Based Library and Information conference (@ConfEblip) #EBLIP10 Who doesn’t want to go to Glasgow, Scotland in June of 2019??!! You have till November 30 to get your submissions in.

That’s my selection of faves for now. I find Twitter so useful for keeping up professionally and for pushing out information to my liaison areas.

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Cultivating a Culture of Curiosity? The Benefits of Doing So if Research is on Your Mind

by Virginia Wilson, Director
Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP_
University of Saskatchewan, Canada

[This post was originally published on the LARK Library Applied Research Kollektive blog on August 31, 2017.]

Many information organizations strive to create a culture of research for different reasons. Some, like many Canadian academic libraries, do so to encourage their librarians who are required to conduct and disseminate research for professional advancement, i.e. tenure, permanent status. Others have embraced evidence based library and information practice (EBLIP) where research alongside professional expertise and what the users want/need is prevalent. Still others see research as an important part of librarianship where research can inform practice. And then there are combinations of the above. Indeed, our own University Library has spent the last 10 years developing a robust culture of research, where research and scholarly activity are supported and encouraged, as librarians are faculty members and on the tenure track. We also consider the tenets of EBLIP in our practice of professional skills.

However, many librarians do not have extensive training in the research enterprise. Library schools offer the obligatory research methods survey class and unless the librarian also has another graduate degree or opts for the thesis route in library school, research experience is not a given. So, when a librarian comes into a culture of research, it can be daunting and frustrating no matter what supports are offered and a common difficulty for new librarians is trying to think of or decide on a research topic. It seems to look (simplistically1) like this (click on charts for a clearer view):

Even though we ask candidates about their research interests, often the idea of the actual doing of research doesn’t hit home until the candidate is faced with the realities and requirements of the tenure process.

The research life cycle2 looks something like this:

This seems to be a robust and thorough depiction of the research process (although I might use the term “data” instead of “assets” in the Implementation box). I like how this process encourages open access publishing and includes social media as a source of impact metrics. It’s good stuff. But nowhere in this process is there a description of coming up with a research topic. It presumes that the topic is there and the research question is already at hand.

I wonder then if the idea of a “culture of research” is too late in the game. There are many different cultures an information organization can strive to create: culture of learning, culture of excellence, culture of success, but what about a culture of curiosity?

1: desire to know:
b: interest leading to inquiry – intellectual curiosity – Her natural curiosity led her to ask more questions.


A culture of curiosity is in line with encouraging research amongst librarians as researchers. As defined by Merriam-Webster, curiosity is interest leading to inquiry. Fostering a culture of curiosity with the implicit and explicit aim of curiosity leading to research allows the research piece to be part of the natural process of having a question and seeking an answer. A culture of curiosity would look something like this:

Research, therefore, would be part of the process – just not the starting point.

But if the organization requires research and indeed it is part of a librarian’s job, that fact cannot be ignored. Can a librarian put that requirement to the back of their mind and go into their job all wide-eyed and curious? Surely there will be the looming spectre of research outputs and then the pressure to be curious in the right way – a way that will lead to an answerable research question. I don’t deny that the scenario could happen, and I’m not trying to institute tricking your employees into doing research as an active strategy. I believe we can have both a culture of curiosity and a culture of research, and that they will build on one another moving forward. Curiosity leads to questions which lead to research which can lead to innovation. An added bonus of working within a culture of curiosity is that curiosity will also increase employee engagement and provide the continuous impetus to examine and reflect on the work so to be open to innovation.

How does one develop a culture of curiosity? Obviously, having management that is on board with such a culture is important. However, in browsing around about this topic, I compiled four ways to encourage curiosity that anyone can try:

  1. Write agendas as questions: using the premise that employees are more engaged when they feel like they can influence the outcome, set up meetings that are as participatory as possible and encourage interest by structuring agendas in the form of questions.
  2. Encourage collaboration: because great ideas don’t generally happen in a vacuum, have employees work together often and in different groupings. They will be exposed to the talents of their co-workers and can take advantage of cross-unit ideas and inspiration.
  3. Get rid of fear by embracing failure: research and publishing can be a hot bed of disappointment. Harsh peer reviews, rejection letters, uncooperative methodologies – there are many ways to find yourself down the wrong path. An organization that calmly accepts that failure is a part of progress will enable employees to move on to the next thing faster and with confidence.
  4. Encourage questioning: while it is true that constant questioning has the risk of causing defensiveness, realistic questioning of policy and processes can help to stimulate new ways of thinking and new ways of doing the work. This is also the place where research topics are born.

A culture of curiosity will benefit not only the librarians who have research as a mandate, but also all the library employees who are working in the information organization and the organization itself. Encouraging curiosity, creativity, and innovation can help in a sea of constant change. And in our fast-paced work world, keeping pace with or ahead of change will serve us all better. And if a research mandate is on the table, curiosity is a must to achieve something relevant and useful.

Works consulted
Goodman, R. (2016, June 1). How to build a culture of curiosity [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.rickgoodman.com/build-culture-curiosity/

Kalra, A.S. (2015, October 23). 10 ways to build a culture of curiosity. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from  http://www.humanresourcesonline.net/10-ways-build-curious-company/

Karl, A. (2013, November). Create a culture of curiosity: guest blog by Allan Karl. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marksanborn.com/create-a-culture-of-curiosity-guest-blog-by-allan-karl/

Milway, K.S. and Goldmark, A. (2013, September 18). Four ways of cultivating a culture of curiosity [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/09/four-ways-to-cultivate-a-culture-of-curiosity

1I say simplistically up above because of course candidates at our library know prior to being hired that they must do research. We focus on it specifically during the hiring process to avoid blindsiding someone coming in.
2“Research Life Cycle” image from UC Irvine Library Digital Scholarship Services Found on University of Michigan Scientific Discovery Path of Excellence – An Information Resource Starter Kit http://guides.lib.umich.edu/DiscoveryPoE

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Announcing the Library Journal Club Network

by Andrea Miller-Nesbitt
McGill University

Lorie Kloda
Concordia University

Megan Fitzgibbons
University of Western Australia

Back in November 2016, we discussed our recent research on librarians and journal clubs in a post here on Brain-Work. We closed that post with the following aspiration and invitation:

We hope to compile additional resources about journal club practices in librarianship and open communication channels in the future. Watch this space, and please get in touch if you have any ideas about promoting journal clubs for academic librarians.

We are now happy to announce the launch of The Library Journal Club Network, a space where those interested in establishing and sustaining journal clubs can share information, ask questions, and find answers

So far, the site includes:

  • Guidelines for creating and managing a library-related journal club
  • A list of readings and resources about journal clubs
  • A directory of journal clubs

The site is currently set up as a resource for librarians who lead and participate in journal clubs. Going forward, we hope the site will facilitate information sharing through the network. To get started, we invite journal club leaders/facilitators to visit our directory page and submit information about their group to be added to the site.

We also welcome feedback about the site and ideas for expanding it in the future.

MOOCs as Professional Development

by Kathleen Reed
Assessment and Data Librarian, Vancouver Island University

With bright sun and shorts weather arriving on the BC coast, my thoughts have turned to summer plans. With fall and winter terms being way too hectic to put much sustained attention to professional development (PD), spring and summer is the time to take a few days and learn new skills.

Aside from the conference circuit and catching up on recent publications, one of my favourite ways to spend PD time is doing massive open online courses (MOOCs). I love MOOCs because 1) they allow me to learn about a wide range of topics, 2) they’re free, and 3) they’re low commitment – if I don’t like the course I just drop it and find another, or only take the part of the course I’m interested in.

For this blog entry, I thought I’d review some free courses relevant to librarians engaged in evidence-based practice.

I Heart Stats: Learning to Love Statistics
edX (Notre Dame)

I’ve searched far and wide for a stats course that doesn’t scare the hell out of me, and this one is it. It’s a very gentle introduction (or refresher) to basic statistical concepts: inferential stats, chi squares, T-tests, ANOVA, regression, and correlation. If any of those words strike fear into your heart, this is the course for you! Taught by a sociology prof, the emphasis is on helping non-math majors get comfortable with basic stats. The only prior knowledge required is how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. This was the first course I ever took where I thought “wow, stats can be fun!”

Social Psychology
Coursera (Wesleyan University)

A psychology course might seem an odd choice for librarian PD at first, but I found this one particularly useful to understand why people do what they do, which has implications for everything from library space design to designing effective assessment activities. Taught by Dr. Scott Plous, this is an engaging introduction to social psych.

Project Management: The Basics for Success
Coursera (University of California, Irvine)

Project management skills are seriously helpful in a library environment. If you’ve never taken a course in project management, consider this one. It’s free and available on-demand (i.e. no start/end dates, no deadlines).

Introduction to Marketing
Coursera (Wharton School of Business, U. of Pennsylvania)

Once you’ve got evidence of good stuff happening in your library, the next step is to communicate your awesomeness to your stakeholders. Good marketing skills really help. Wharton is known for their marketing expertise, so why not learn from the best? This course started June 1.

Psychological First Aid
Coursera (John Hopkins)

Lots of people have training in giving First Aid for physical injuries, but what about people who need immediate psychological assistance? This course doesn’t qualify you as a psychological first responder, but it does give an introduction to the subject.

The five courses above are ones I see a direct, useful connection to my job as an Assessment Librarian. There are plenty of MOOCs out there for people who want to learn about a whole variety of subjects. If you’re looking for a PD opportunity this summer, why not check out a MOOC? My favourite MOOC sites are Coursera, FutureLearn, and edX.

Have you found a great MOOC? Have you tried MOOCs before? What do you do for PD? Please share in the comments below.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

What I’ve Favourited on Twitter Lately, pt. 2

by Virginia Wilson, Director
Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP)
University of Saskatchewan

I first did a post of my Twitter faves back in on August 12, 2014. It was summer. There was no snow, no cold…there were birds and insects and warm soft breezes. Perhaps I just want to recapture those feelings here in frigid November but I figured I’d dip into my Twitter faves and see what I need to catch up on.

• August 28 saw the retirement of Carleton University Librarian, Margaret Haines. @CU_Discovery tweeted an awesome photo of Margaret living her final wish: to drive the library tunnel cart!
• @ALA_ACRL tweeted a press release for their new updated version of the ACRL Scholarly Communication toolkit. You can find the toolkit here: http://acrl.ala.org/scholcomm/
• @slwalter123 tweeted a link to a book review that looked at two books related to academic freedom. The first book is by Stanley Fish. In Versions of Academic Freedom: From Professionalism to Revolution (University of Chicago Press) Fish claims that faculty have been perpetuating “academic freedom creep” over the past decades and outlines his four academic freedoms. You can check out the review here
• One of my favourite blogs, The Impact Blog from the London School of Economics and Political Science blogged about how faculty learning communities are a positive way for libraries to engage academic staff in scholarly communication.
• @JMBurns99 tweeted a link entitled What is Critical Research? It goes to an interesting and informative page from the University of Strathclyde, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Here are a few of my favourite tweets that don’t include links. They’re helpful (and sometimes funny) all by themselves!
• @LitAtLeddy: At a great #UWindsor writing retreat where many of our best researchers model the secret to productivity: sit in your chair and do some work
• @GreatestQuotes: Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. ~ Aristotle
• @NeinQuarterly: Mid-life Crisis: The sudden realization that you’ve been dying all along. #TheNihilisticDictionary
• October 15 saw the first annual C-EBLIP Fall Symposium: Librarians as Researchers. @tmmaddison tweeted: #ceblip2014 Throughout the day, I found it hard not to run out of the room and immediately start researching. So many interesting topics!

I continue to find Twitter useful for CPD, as well as interesting, informative, and fun! If you haven’t made a foray into the Twitterverse yet, try it! I tweet as @VirginiaPrimary and I also tweet for the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice @CEBLIP.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

C-EBLIP Fall Symposium: Librarians as Researchers – A Synopsis

by Virginia Wilson
Director, Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP)

On Wednesday, October 15, 2014, the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice at the University Library, University of Saskatchewan, held its very first Fall Symposium with the theme of Librarians as Researchers.

Wow, I say! The speakers were inspiring, the food was excellent, the door prizes were fun, and the atmosphere was convivial. Let me give you quick synopsis of the day.

Registration opened at 8am with Carisa and Crystal checking everyone in and making sure everyone had what they needed, including an entry form for the door prize draws. At 8:45, I welcomed participants to the longest room ever (the Marquis Private Dining Room on the U of S Campus is a long rectangular space that turned out to work well for our group with plenty of room for the food and coffee table at the back). I was pleased to be able to introduce the Fall Symposium’s keynote speaker, Margy MacMillan from Mount Royal University, who spoke about the interactions between the what and the why of research. You can check out the keynote abstract and Margy’s bio right here. Margy’s talk involved some interactive work as we thought about and shared our first research questions as well as our most memorable research questions.


The day’s single-track session stream was a good format for this one-day symposium. Presenters had 20 minutes to speak and entertain questions. Session topics were broad and interesting, and the full range of abstracts can be found here. A feature of the symposium was ample time for connecting and networking. The morning break, lunch, afternoon break, and post-symposium social offered a chance for participants to talk and share amidst a plethora of food. My motto is: better too much than not enough. Although from my perspective, the food seemed just right! Ask any attendee about the granola bars.

After the sessions were finished and the door prizes were awarded (door prizes donated by the U of S Campus Computer Store, U of S Bookstore, University Library, and McNally Robinson Booksellers) symposium-goers retired to the University Club for a restorative beverage and even more food. It was an excellent wind-down to a wonderful day.

I’ve got a few thank yous to extend, so here we go. Thank you to:

  • Our 54 symposium attendees from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and the US. It was wonderful to meet and see you all!
  • Keynote Margy MacMillan and all of our session presenters: fabulous job!
  • C-EBLIP Fall Symposium Planning Committee who joined me in constructing this caper: Carolyn Pytlyk, Charlene Sorensen, and Rachel Sarjeant-Jenkins
  • Session Facilitators: Carolyn Pytlyk, DeDe Dawson, Charlene Sorensen, Shannon Lucky
  • Registration and Set-up: Carisa Polischuk and Crystal Hampson
  • Photographer: David Bindle
  • Also to Finn’s Irish Pub, where we held the CARL LRI social on the evening of Oct. 14, Marquis Culinary Services, eMAP, FMD, Dean Vicki Williamson and the University Library Dean’s Office, C-EBLIP Members, and the University Club. (I hope I haven’t missed anyone!)

You can access the Storify of the day’s tweets here: https://storify.com/VirginiaPrimary/c-eblip-fall-symposium-librarians-as-researchers

Let’s do it again next year, okay?

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

C-EBLIP Fall Symposium: Librarians as Researchers

by Virginia Wilson
Director, Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

First of all, I want to let you know that the Summer of Virginia as it pertains to the Brain-Work blog is just about over. Starting next week, you’ll be treated to weekly posts from our brilliant cast of contributors. But before I concede centre stage, I’d like to talk about the C-EBLIP Fall Symposium: Librarians as Researchers.

The Symposium is coming up on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 and will be held on the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) campus. The day-long event will consist of an opening keynote address by Margy MacMillan from Mount Royal University, single track sessions, and lots of time for networking (yummy food and social events, too). You can find the program here: http://library.usask.ca/ceblip/c-eblip-fall-symposium/symposium-program.php Registration (which will open soonopen now!) is complimentary, but we will be asking for you to fill out an online registration form for catering numbers and stuff like that.

So, a bit of background…the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) held its grand opening in July 2013. Just over a year old, the Centre is under the umbrella of the University Library, U of S. C-EBLIP’s mandate is to promote evidence based practice and to support librarians as researchers. We’ve done a lot of activities over the past year internally to support that mandate. But I’ve always felt there should be some outward facing activities originating from the Centre, mostly because I’m a big believer of the work being better when it’s not done in a vacuum. The Symposium is one such activity. The Symposium is open to any librarian interested in the topic of librarians as researchers. With free registration, you just need to get here.

There have been recent initiatives aimed at developing a Canadian librarian research culture. I’m thinking particularly of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Librarians’ Research Institute (LRI). The LRI was held for its third year this past June at Carleton. Previous LRIs were held at the University of Regina, jointly presented by the U of R and the U of S, and at the University of Windsor. I attended the inaugural event and was very impressed with the content, the use of peer mentors to facilitate the institute, and the overall concept and drive behind the institute. Essentially, we’ve got a lot of librarian research expertise in Canada and we need to bring that together, share that knowledge, and move a librarian culture of research in Canada forward. I’m hoping that the C-EBLIP Fall Symposium will contribute to this goal. Bringing together librarians from across Canada to share research, experiences, thoughts, and potential roadblocks can only help to continue the conversations that are taking place about librarians in their researcher roles.

I’m really excited about the initial response to the Fall Symposium. Librarians as researchers seems to be a timely topic, and it’s one that I’m immersed in with my role as the C-EBLIP Director. I believe that librarians have so much to offer in the area of LIS research. We have the opportunity to research our practice, to take questions that come from our place on the ground and move them forward to provide ourselves and each other with evidence to take our practice to the next level. If the Symposium unfolds as I think it will, we’re going to have a day that will inspire and ignite us all and that will provide a feeling of support; the idea that no matter where we are, there are others like us who are doing the same type of work. And hopefully, the connections we make at the Symposium will be lasting, so we can jot off an email or pick up the phone and connect with a Symposium attendee for information, support, or maybe just a laugh.

If you have any questions about the C-EBLIP Fall Symposium, please do not hesitate to be in touch with me: virginia.wilson@usask.ca

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

What I’ve Favourited on Twitter Lately

by Virginia Wilson
Director, Centre of Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

I click on a lot of stars on Twitter. Clicking on the star marks a tweet as a favourite and the idea is that I will go back to these favourites and read whatever it is that first interested me in more depth. Most often, these faves include a link to a blog post or an article that I don’t want to lose track of. What I’ve found is that while well-intentioned, I rarely go back to these stars and explore further. To that end, I’m going to dig through my Twitter favourites and include some of them here. This will serve as double duty: I can get a look at these fascinating links that sparked something in me when I first saw them and I can share them out to hopefully spark you as well. Here we go!

• @Write4Research posted a link to the LSE Impact Blog with the following tweet: “Focus and credibility will help academic blogs thrive but negative perceptions must be challenged.” Turns out this tweet is the title of the blog post and I find it very interesting especially as C-EBLIP has just embarked on this academic blog. I believe there are many good reasons to blog from our own professional perspectives and the author of this post, Achilleas Kostoulas, a Postgraduate Researcher at the University of Manchester, lists quite a few of them plus lots more interesting tidbits. Here’s the link to the LSE post: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/08/04/focus-credibility-academic-blogging-kostoulas/

• @EBLIP8 posted the call for conference submissions. I’m particularly excited about this as the 8th International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice conference is going to be held July 6-8, 2015 in Brisbane, Australia and I’m going! I’m hoping to have something to present and I’d better get at is because the call for proposals closes on October 13, 2014. http://eblip8.info/2014/08/03/call-for-contributions-now-open/

• @dededawson, a colleague of mine at the University Library, U of S, posted this tweet: More evidence of the OA citation effect. OA articles viewed & cited more than subscription articles. Here’s the link: http://www.nature.com/press_releases/ncomms-report.html DeDe writes an Open Access blog and you can access that here: http://words.usask.ca/openaccess/

• A list of all Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) on Twitter. Twitter allows for the creation of lists and Kitt McGoveran (@kittmcg) created a list of CARL libraries that post on twitter. Here’s the url: https://twitter.com/kittmcg/lists/carl-libraries

• @LibrarySherpa posted “How to be a social media team of one: 7 tips.” These are 7 powerful tips! http://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-be-a-social-media-team-of-one-7-tips/

Here are a few of my favourite tweets that don’t include links. It’s amazing how helpful a 140-character (or less) post can be!

• @MariaJGrant: Writing Tip: The *perfect* word/sentence isnt essential to communicate ideas but words/sentences are. Write them down & start communicating!
• @bfister: I think librarians can and should be awesome themselves, not just invisible team members.
• @LibSkrat: I’ll say this as often as I need to: judging a person’s career by the JIF of the journals they publish in is unethical and stupid.
• @ChristineWalde: What’s one of the best things about #librarians doing #research in #LIS? We get to lead the conversation about libraries
• @melioravit: “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” ― Christopher Hitchens

I find Twitter to be an excellent way to keep up professionally. I created my account in 2009 (@VirginiaPrimary) but it took me a few years of only tweeting at conferences to really jump on board and make it part of my daily routine.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

What’s All This About Evidence? C-EBLIP Journal Club, June 9, 2014

by Virginia Wilson
Director, Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

On June 9 over lunch, the C-EBLIP Journal Club met for the first time with 9 librarians in attendance. The plan is to meet every 6 weeks or so, and dates have been set until May 2015 to get us going. The club will run around rotating convenors, with the convenor’s role being to choose an article to discuss, book the meeting space, send out meeting announcements and reminder emails, lead the journal club discussion, and write up a discussion summary for the blog. I convened the first meeting and here’s how it went.

Koufogiannakis, D. (2012). Academic librarians’ conception and use of evidence sources in practice. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 7(4): 5-24. https://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/18072

1. Brief summary of article

This is a qualitative study using grounded theory methodology that addresses these research questions: What forms of evidence do academic librarians use when making professional decisions? Why do they use these types of evidence? How do academic librarians incorporate research into their professional decision making? Koufogiannakis recruited 19 academic librarian participants using purposeful sampling (in other words, she looked for a particular population – librarians who “had some interest in exploring the use of evidence in relation to their professional decision-making” (p. 8)). These librarians kept a private blog diary for a month, noting questions or problems related to their professional practice and how they came to resolve those issues. She followed up with semi-structured phone interviews which enabled her to clarify and get a deeper analysis of specific aspects participants noted in their diaries. The results of this study include two variations of evidence: hard and soft, and the librarians in the study used both kinds to inform decision-making. They often didn’t think of the soft types of evidence as real evidence, but were using them in conjunction with the harder forms of evidence such as the research literature to inform their practice. The piece concludes with the idea that EBLIP needs to expand to include a wide variety of evidence types to “bring the EBLIP model closer to one that has truly considered the needs of librarians” (p. 21).

2. Discussion Summary
In retrospect, it is a difficult process to fully participate in a journal club discussion and to take notes for some kind of discussion summary after the fact. The following discussion points are highly contextual. The journal club discussion was informal and conversational, allowing us to take different roads.

• The discussion began with general impressions of the article and these impressions included praise for the clarity of the writing and an appreciation for the articulation and demonstration of material that at first glance seemed obvious but upon deeper reading revealed itself to be thought-provoking and meaningful.
• There was some discussion about the sample of librarians who participated in the study – how was that sample generated, were the librarians similar to the researcher, what would be the implications of that?
• The article takes a broad view of what is considered evidence. A comment was made that we are still so uncertain and that the article highlights an ongoing struggle. Other people may not accept the soft evidence. As librarians we can evaluate sources and all have the potential to have something to offer. Where it can get complex for us (as librarians) is the fact that we serve other research communities. We sometimes inherit those value systems through that work.
• There was a comment about the reflective nature of the research and someone commented that the humanities are doing the same kind of introspective things.
• The discussion moved to evidence based practice in health/medicine. In many models of EBP, the focus seems to be only on the research and not the other two aspects (professional knowledge/expertise; user/client/patient preference).
• Why aren’t librarians going to their associations for information/evidence, i.e. ACRL – tools, checklists, etc.?
• Is soft evidence used in the absence of hard evidence? After this question arose, there was a discussion around the designations of the terms “hard” and “soft.” Is the designation imposing some kind of bias? These are not neutral terms. Why have we as a culture or a society determined a hierarchy for these terms? What other terms might have been used to classify these two types of evidence? We couldn’t come up with anything that wasn’t hierarchical to some extent, and we put that down to the idea that we are organizers by nature.
• If the definition of evidence is expanding, does it not just dilute everything? i.e. describing our situation versus prescribing a direction
• Tacit knowledge: gut reactions help to pose the questions which ideally we go on to explore. The impetus to “prove it” helps to solidify thoughts. We often don’t believe our own knowledge is good or that it’s appropriate proof.
• We need to get away from the idea that right and wrong are forever. Need a new standard that allows for new knowledge and flexibility.

This was a great article with which to kick off the C-EBLIP Journal Club. Not only did we discuss the particulars of the research reported in the article, it also acted as a catalyst that sparked a professional discussion that we may well not have had without it about how we practice as librarians and what it means to practice in a evidence-based way.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.