Libraries are for Use

Demonstrating the value of librarianship

Interesting items from EBLIP


While the latest issue of Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP) has been out for a few weeks now, I’m only just now reading the articles.  My excuse is that I’ve been working on finishing and submitting an article over the holidays.  There are several articles that I wanted to be sure to mention.  In the light of full-disclosure, as I mentioned in my last post, I am a peer reviewer for EBLIP.

Highlights from the EBLIP7 conference, which I missed.  Among the Award Winners, I’m very interested in the 2nd Place Poster: Culling the Herd, by Jean Blackburn, et al. at Vancouver Island University.

The EBLIP7 Lightning Strikes session certainly seemed to have been quite inspiring and entertaining.  That’s often what people get the most from conferences – to be energized and inspired to keep going, to keep pushing, to fight the good fight.

I was intrigued by Denise Koufogiannakis’ Keynote deconstructing “evidence”.  This is pretty fundamental, given its prominence in the conference and the journal.  But the word is relatively abstract, with different meanings to different people.  She summarizes her research on the concept of “evidence” as such:

“What I’ve learned about evidence in LIS, is that it can come from many sources. Evidence is much more than research – and depending upon the type of question or problem we are trying to address, research will not always be the best source of evidence. The role of EBLIP is about using evidence and figuring out what is the best evidence in your particular situation. Evidence use is not easily prescriptive, and must consider local circumstances.”

There is a lot more to her speech, which may warrant a new posting.  Of particular interest (relevant to the above-mentioned earlier post) is her comparison with the medical field – or rather, how librarianship differs from the medical field.  And thus, our forms of evidence are different.  Denise proposes a ” a more holistic approach to practicing librarianship in an evidence based way”, based in part on her own research and the work of others in EBLIP.  She also proposes two areas of research needed for the near future: on the best evidence for each type of question, and on the interpretation (or “reading”) of research in LIS.  A very interesting and intriguing speech.

In addition to summaries of EBLIP7, there are some interesting original research articles, as well as evidence reviews.  One article, by Cara Bradley from University of Regina, examined the extent of information literacy as a topic in the top science pedagogy journals.  After conducting a content analysis of the titles & abstracts of article, Cara determined that IL appeared only “sporadically”, and librarians “contributed a relatively small proportion.”  This suggests that information literacy in the sciences is a prime area in which librarians can contribute.

From another article, Bringing in the Experts: Library Research Guide Usability Testing in a Computer Science Class, we learned a little more about what works and doesn’t work with subject guides for students.  Consistency in layout was considered “more importan(t)…than expected”.  Also important was the organization, which most students preferred topically rather than by format.  And that the databases should be listed by importance, at least for the top few.  While this may only be applicable to the local environment, the methods described (usability testing as a learning activity for both students and the librarians) should inspire others to use this tool on one of the most neglected yet important resources in our libraries.

Evidence Summaries are a unique feature of this journals.  These are both summaries and critique of LIS research studies.  I was intrigued by the review of the article on meta-synthesis on information seeking behaviors of graduate students by A. J. Catalano.  Based on the review, this article is on my reading list, although I may not be able to get it via ILL.

Another reviewed an article that examined how well undergraduate students understand the LC Classification system.  This is definitely an important subject, in that students often report difficulty finding books on the shelves.  The commentary was interesting, as well, with the reviewer suggesting that a comparison with Dewey Decimal or other classification scheme (perhaps Ranganathan’s Colon?).

These are just a few selections from this latest issue of Evidence Based Library & Information Practice.  Take a look for yourself…

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