Building a positive culture around practitioner research, one symposium at a time

by Christine Neilson
Neil John MacLean Health Sciences Library
Centre for Healthcare Innovation
University of Manitoba

This fall I attended my first C-EBLIP symposium, and it was fantastic. The day was filled with interesting presentations; I had a chance to see old colleagues and meet new people who share an interest in library research; and they gave me bacon for breakfast, which is always a win as far as I’m concerned. Two recurring themes during the day were 1) leading by example, and 2) the personal aspects of doing research (such as dealing with research projects that go off the rails, professional vulnerability, and the dreaded “imposter syndrome”). Both of these themes are important. The first as a call to action. The second as an acknowledgement that research isn’t necessarily easy, but none of us are truly alone and there are things we can do to cope.

Acknowledging and exploring the personal issues that come with conducting research is not something that we tend to talk about. I might tell a trusted colleague that sometimes I’m afraid others will see me as the researcher equivalent of the Allstate DIY-er – all of the enthusiasm and optimism, but none of the skill or ability – but generally, we limit our “official” professional discussion to less sensitive topics. Maybe that’s because we don’t want to admit that there might be any issues. Or maybe it’s because there’s a risk the discussion could degenerate into a pity-party that doesn’t move anyone or anything forward. Either way, I think that this is a topic area that needs to be explored in a constructive way.

The C-EBLIP Symposium was a venue that genuinely felt safe to talk about research and the experience of doing research, and I’m thankful I was able to attend. I’m particularly happy that this year’s presenters will have an opportunity to publish about their presentations in an upcoming issue of Evidence Based Library and Information Practice journal. It’s a great opportunity for presenters to share their research, ideas, and experiences with a wider audience, and it will help ensure that content from the day doesn’t disappear into the ether. Building a culture with certain desired qualities is extremely difficult. I’m encouraged that C-EBLIP is building a positive, supportive culture of practitioner research in librarianship and I hope the momentum continues!

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.

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