Librarians as Researchers


Back in May I attended a really interesting UC&R Yorkshire and Humberside event at York St. Johns University entitled “Librarians as Researchers“. The event was opened by Professor Jean McNiff from York St. Johns University who began by testing our knowledge of Action Research – to put the methodology and theory into context she carried out action research in the session. Through lively debates in small groups we were able to explore how action research could/is being implemented within the Library world.

The second session of the day was from Professor Sheila Corrall from the University of Sheffield. (See presentation slides.) This session focused on the practical research opportunities that are available for UK LIS professionals. Information was provided about the various LIS qualifications available including PhDs and the new practitioner doctorate aimed at experienced LIS professionals. The latter looks very interesting as it is a structured programme that can be done alongside and complementing your job. Further information about potential funding opportunities was also highlighted. In addition to the formal qualifications that are available Professor Corrall also stressed the importance of sharing research and ideas amongst the profession, including the value of publishing in general whether that be through book reviews, conference reports, case studies, articles etc. This section was of particular interest for me as it is something I am hoping to do more of in the future.  Emphasis was placed on the vast array of publications that we could publish in and in some instances incentives provided to encourage publication – such as the Sheila Corrall Publication Award – something I really need to look into.

The final session of the day was from Dr. Miggie Pickton entitled “Librarians as Researchers – combining research with the day job.”  (See presentation slides.) The importance of practitioner research for the individual, the organisation and the profession were highlighted. Practical tips and encouragement for doing research was also provided including how to establish a context for your research, develop aims and objectives, get help (if required), share work (publishing, conferences etc) and get support from managers. Further information from discussions in this session can also be found on the LIS Research Coalition blog.

This session was complemented with a series of examples of “Librarians as Researchers” at York St. Johns University. Several LIS professionals outlined projects that they were involved in from changing academic’s perceptions of Subject Librarians through to customer journey mapping. The day ended with a networking opportunity – a great way to talk to fellow LIS professionals about their experiences and share ideas.

Overall it was a really interesting day. As part of my role incorporates research and development all of the areas were of significance. I am currently involved in a number of different projects and I hope in the not to distant future I can start to share my research with fellow information professionals. Publication is one option the other that was also promoted at the event is the LIS Research Coalition Conference on Monday. Part of the conference is a One Minute Madness – and madly I have agreed to take part giving a brief synopsis of one of the projects we are currently undertaking. My first step into the conference arena! 🙂


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