Research that is (un-)related to librarianship

by Kristin Hoffmann
University of Western Ontario

I have noticed that conversations about librariansi doing research often lead to discussions about whether librarians can or should do research that isn’t related to librarianship or library and information science (LIS). Most often in those discussions, librarians express a desire to do research in any discipline or bemoan the fact that their institution’s policies or practices don’t permit or support them to do research that is un-related to librarianship.

In a recent study that I did with two colleagues, Selinda Berg and Denise Koufogiannakis, we surveyed academic librarians who work at universities across Canada to explore how various factors are related to research productivity. As part of our survey, we asked participants to report their LIS-related research output over the past five years. A handful of participants remarked on the idea of LIS-related research with comments such as:

“What is LIS research? Is it only research that has been published in LIS journals? The research that I do is primarily focused on teaching and learning. I believe that this also informs LIS, but am unclear if it would be considered strictly LIS research?”

“My area of research is not LIS-related, but librarians [at my university] are restricted to ‘work-related’ projects when applying for sabbatical.”

“Peer-reviewed, published research in non-library fields raises the image and acceptance of librarians as faculty and participants in post-secondary activities in my opinion.”

I admit having had a strong personal opinion on the matter: that librarians should do research related to librarianship. It has seemed like common sense to me that we research within our discipline. I also feel that “librarianship” is vast, far beyond the realm of “related to what I do as a librarian,” and so I haven’t perceived this boundary as a restriction.

But I find myself now wanting to be less fixed and more open to considering other ways of looking at this. I am curious to explore the issues around research that is and is not related to librarianship. Questions that interest me include:

What does “research related to librarianship” mean, and how might that meaning differ for librarians who are more or less interested in doing such research?

How does collective agreement languageii affect the kind of research that librarians do or the kind of research that they want to do?

How do subject expertise and other advanced degrees influence librarians’ research interests or confidence to carry out research, either related to librarianship or not?

I hope that this exploration will help me, and others, to better understand what is at the root of various perspectives about research that is or is not related to librarianship, so that we can better support and encourage each other as researchers.
__________________________________
iMy experience is limited to conversations about academic librarians doing research.
iiIn Canada, most academic librarians are members of faculty associations and their responsibilities, including research or scholarly activity, are outlined in collective agreements or similar documents.

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.

“I miss math…”- Strengths & Comfort Zones When Choosing Research Methods

by Laura Newton Miller, on sabbatical from Carleton University

I have the great fortune to be on a one-year sabbatical. I love to learn, and I’ve moved out of my comfort zone by doing more qualitative research. I am interpreting a lot of open-ended comments from many interesting people, and have gone from being overwhelmed to kind of/sort-of comfortable in the mounds of data I’ve collected. I really do appreciate and love the learning.

So, a little story: In late spring, I was helping my 11-year-old son with his homework to find the surface area of triangular prisms. After watching some YouTube videos, we eventually started working through a practice sheet until he finally got the hang of it. While working on some problems myself in order to help him understand, I had a bit of an epiphany: I miss math.

You see, in “real life” I’m an assessment librarian. This started as mainly collections assessment, and eventually broadened to also include service and space.  If anyone ever thought that they would like to become a librarian to avoid math, they best not be working in collections, administration, or assessment. I do math all the time in my job. Does it drive me crazy sometimes? Yep. But I like it- I’ve always been pretty good at it.

For the most part, my research so far this year does not include much math. And that’s ok; It doesn’t work for what I’m trying to do at the moment. I have been stretching out of my comfort zone, treading my way through to learn new skills. I guess this is nothing new- I get out of my comfort zone a lot in my regular job too (ie. I never knew I’d use Excel so much). With learning any new skill, there are overwhelming moments- the “what have I gotten myself into” kinds of moments. They are happening less and less now, but I sometimes find myself comparing this sabbatical to my last one in 2010. At that time, I was just getting used to the idea of doing research at all. One of the things I did was a bibliographic study on graduate biology theses at Carleton University (shameless plug here: http://www.istl.org/11-winter/refereed3.html). There was lot of math involved.  It was a very new process for me and I’m sure I had my doubts at the time, but I also remember saying out loud “I LOVE this”. Not that I’m NOT loving what I’m doing now…I’ve certainly had my “ooh” moments…. I just find it more…difficult maybe?

I love Selinda Berg’s blog post (https://words.usask.ca/ceblipblog/2016/03/22/capacity-not-competencies/) focusing on capacities for research- not just research competencies. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a learning process. I’m definitely growing as a researcher. I remember being part of the Librarians’ Research Institute (2014) (http://www.carl-abrc.ca/strengthening-capacity/workshops-and-training/librarians-research-institute/). Although I can’t find it in my notes (and I still refer to them 🙂 ), I do remember us talking about choosing research methods to answer your questions- understanding the advantages and disadvantages of choosing quantitative, qualitative, or critical/theoretical methods. In the end though, someone said you do have to feel comfortable with your choice of research method. As an example, if you are a complete introvert, you have to ask yourself if you really want to conduct focus groups or interviews. Just how much do you want to get out of your comfort zone?

I’m happy to be out of my comfort zone, but I have also learned that when I’m looking at future ways to answer my research questions, I need to remember my strengths and skills that I do have. I purposely did not say “weaknesses” because those are the opportunities to learn. I do think that librarians can sometimes be a little “judgey” about some methods (ie “not another survey”) and this is not helpful.

Ultimately choose the research method that is right for your research question, and when weighing the pros and cons of each method, remember your strengths and the learning curve that might be involved. Next time (if it makes sense to do so) I know that I won’t necessarily leave math out of the equation (bad pun intended).

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.

An argument for transdisciplinary research for the library and information professions

by Tegan Darnell, Research Librarian, University of Southern Queensland

Put simply, ‘transdisciplinary’ research draws on work from a number of different disciplines to approach a problem or question in a holistic way, but it is distinct from other cross-disciplinary methodologies in that it describes research that attempts to interrogate space across, between, or beyond the disciplines.

Interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, and multidisciplinary research remain inside the framework of disciplinary research. A library study that uses a method such as ethnography is one example of ‘interdisciplinary’ research, for example. A ‘transdisciplinary’ approach is one that attempts to understand the wider world in a way that is not possible within disciplinary research.

Transdisciplinary research is a way of attempting to understand and address the complexities of those ‘wicked’ multi-faceted problems that involve human beings, nature, technology and society. Climate change, artificial intelligence, poverty, and health are all areas where transdisciplinary studies are beneficial.

As LIS professionals, we are working in a field that is at the intersection between people, technology, ethics, information, and learning. Allowing ourselves to abandon the rigid ways of thinking established within disciplines such as education, information science, and perhaps even the term ‘evidence-based librarianship’ would allow LIS professionals to create the intellectual space to challenge our existing assumptions and realities.

Problems with complex social, economic, or ethical aspects such as:
• lack of diversity within the profession,
• scholarly communication and publishing models,
• copyright, intellectual property and piracy,
• technologist vs. humanist approaches to libraries,
• Western-centric approaches to information, knowledge and learning
could be approached with new conceptual, theoretical, and methodological investigations.

So, why is this important to LIS practitioners? Do you ever ask yourself:
• Are we really dealing with the problem here?
• Are we creating value for our community in the long term?
• Why are we paying for these subscriptions anyway?
• What is ‘authoritative’ information (and who says)?
• What about privacy?
• How can we address climate change as an organisation?
• How can I address my own ‘whiteness’ in my day to day professional practice?
• What does our preferred future library even look like?

I do. It is important to me that what I do affects the wider world in a positive way. In a very selfish way, when I go home in the evening I want to be able to tell my children that I do a job that makes the world a better place. If I can’t, I need to change what I’m doing.

Let’s make some connections with others, let’s find some new ways of thinking about solving these problems, because I’m ready, and I want some answers.

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

The right tool for the job: NVivo software for thematic analysis

by Carolyn Doi
Education and Music Library, University of Saskatchewan

This post builds off of an earlier one by research assistant Veronica Kmiech, which outlines the process for searching and identifying literature on the topic of how practitioners in cultural heritage organizations manage local music collections.1 I have worked with Veronica since summer 2016 on this project, which led to a thematic analysis of the literature seeking to better understand the professional practices implemented and challenges faced in managing, preserving and providing access to local music collections in libraries and archives.2

Using NVivo to facilitate the thematic analysis in this project was ultimately extremely helpful in organizing and managing the data. With over fifty sources to analyze in this review, the thought of doing this work manually seemed daunting.

Thematic analysis typically encompasses steps which take the researcher from familiarization of the data, through development of codes and themes, and finally to being able to tie these themes to the broader picture within the literature.3 NVivo becomes particularly useful at the stages of coding and theme development.

During the coding phase, NVivo will help save descriptions, inclusion, and exclusion criteria for each code. These are fairly easy to change as needed, being able to see an overview of the codes you are working with is definitely helpful, and it is easy to create hierarchies within the node sets. Once code labels are identified, coding the dataset involves (a lot!) of highlighting and decisions about which node(s) to assign to that piece of text. Adding new nodes is fairly simple, as there will likely be themes that come up throughout the coding process. Word to the wise: coding is made easier with NVivo, but the software doesn’t do all the work for you. Schedule extra time for this portion of the research.

During the phase of theme development and organization, NVivo made it quite easy to sort nodes into broader themes. In practice, this process took a few revisions in order to fully think through how and why nodes should be sorted and organized. The software has some features that assist with finding significance within the themes including ability to make mind maps, charts, and word frequency queries. After this process, I identified five broad themes were identified within the literature, some with as few as three associated nodes, and some with as many as thirteen (fig. 1).

Figure 1: Themes and node hierarchy

Following the development of this hierarchy, I went back into the literature, to find examples of how each theme was applied and referred to in the literature. When presenting the analysis portion, these examples were helpful in illustrating the underlying narrative.

This example (fig. 2) shows nodes found within the theme which brings together data on the theme of why practitioners choose to collect local music.


Figure 2: Goal and Objective theme

To better illustrate the significance or application of these concepts, I used quotes from the literature as examples. This excerpt works particularly well as an illustration of why heritage organizations might choose to collect local music, why it may present challenges, and why it can be considered unique:

The Louisville Underground Music Archives (LUMA) project was born of the need to document this particular, and important, slice of Louisville’s musical culture. …from a diverse community of bands and musicians, venue and store owners, recording studios and label managers, and fans to maintain the entire story from a broad range of perspectives.4

Pulling quotes such as this one helped me to build a narrative around the themes I’d identified, and serve to provide a gateway into the literature being analyzed.

The process of analyzing the data this way provided me with a rich resource on which to build the literature review, and a unique map of what the literature represents. While NVivo has some flaws and drawbacks (price, switching between operating systems, and working collaboratively were notable obstacles), the benefits outweighed them in the end (quick learning curve, saves the time of the researcher, assists considerably with organization of data and thematic synthesis). I highly recommend NVivo as a tool to keep in your back pocket for future qualitative analysis projects.

1 “Locating the local: A literature review and analysis of local music collections.” https://words.usask.ca/ceblipblog/2017/01/17/lit-review-local-music-collections/
2 Results from this analysis were recently presented during the 2017 annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Music Libraries (CAML) in Toronto, ON in a paper titled Regional music collection practices in libraries: A qualitative systematic review and thematic analysis of the literature.
3 “About Thematic Analysis.” University of Auckland. https://www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/our-research/research-groups/thematic-analysis/about-thematic-analysis.html
4 Caroline Daniels, Heather Fox, Sarah-Jane Poindexter, and Elizabeth Reilly. Saving All the Freaks on the Life Raft: Blending Documentation Strategy with Community Engagement to Build a Local Music Archives. The American Archivist, Vol. 78, No. 1 (2015): 238–261.

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.

New Vistas for Vicki Williamson

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

In 2006, Dr. Vicki Williamson left her Australian home in the middle of summer to become the Dean of the University Library, University of Saskatchewan (U of S). Please note that the middle of an Australian summer is the middle of a Saskatchewan winter. This alone illustrates Vicki’s tenacity, drive, and dedication. It also necessitated the purchase of a long down-filled winter coat and other protective paraphernalia. Vicki developed a working relationship with Saskatchewan weather and from 2006 to 2016, she served two five-year terms as the first ever Dean of the University Library. After an administrative leave, Vicki has retired. One wonders if Vicki kept that coat for the memories when she returned to Australia.

This post is to say a fond farewell, to express gratitude, and to invite you to join me in wishing Vicki all the best. Her career has spanned many years and multiple locations. After Vicki served in several high-level positions in Australia, the University Library was lucky enough to get the benefit of all that experience. With a focus on library transformation, library leadership, and librarians as researchers (to name just a few areas), Vicki’s hard work and dedication has put our University Library on the world map.

Vicki was proactive in her involvement with librarianship at the national and international level. Vicki played active roles in the following organizations:
• The Association of Commonweath Universities (ACU)
• Association of Research Libraries (ARL)
• Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL)
• Centre for Research Libraries
• Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL)
• Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)

Within the University of Saskatchewan, the Library emerged as an entity recognized not only for providing excellent service for faculty, students, and staff, but also as a place where its faculty members conduct research and contribute to the research agenda of the University. One notable achievement (from my personal perspective) was the creation of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP), a type-A centre in the U of S’s centre structure. C-EBLIP is the first of its kind in Canada and its mandate is to support librarians as researchers and to promote evidence based library and information practice (EBLIP). Vicki unflaggingly shepherded the Centre application through University channels culminating in the University Council voting in the affirmative for the creation of C-EBLIP in December 2012. From its grand opening in July 2013 until the present, C-EBLIP has been a concrete feature in the University Library and has supported librarians through grant proposals, tenure and promotion, academic writing, conducting research, the dissemination of research, and many more activities. Were it not for Vicki’s support and dedication, C-EBLIP would not exist.

There are so many more things to highlight about Vicki’s superlative career but it would take more than a blog post to do so. I will end by saying that I miss Vicki’s active presence in the Library and in librarianship. She has been a role model, an inspiration, and a strong leader for many of the librarians she has met. Canadian librarianship is better for Vicki’s time in our country (and now her country, as she obtained Canadian citizenship during her residence here). I wish her all the best in the future and hope that you might do the same in the comments below. Happy Retirement, Vicki!


l-r Dr. Vicki Williamson and author

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.

Locating the Local: A Literature Review and Analysis of Local Music Collections

by Veronica Kmiech, BMUHON, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan

This work is part of a larger research project titled “Local Music Collections” led by Music Librarian Carolyn Doi and funded by the University of Saskatchewan President’s SSHRC research fund. A post from Carolyn’s perspective on managing this project will be published in 2017 on the C-EBLIP Blog.

Introduction

Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.
Albert Szent-Gyorgy1

At this point in my university career, I have written several research papers, most of which were for the musicology courses I took as part of my music degree. This research gave me familiarity with the library catalogue, online databases for musicological articles, interlibrary loan, and contacting European collections to request material (this last one involved an interesting 4 a.m. phone call). As a Research Assistant, my background was helpful, but I found the depth of searching needed for the literature review much greater than anything I had done before.

My role as a research assistant for music librarian Carolyn Doi involved searching for sources, screening those sources based on their relevance to the project, and using NVivo software to identify themes in the literature.

Aim

The aim in doing the Literature Review was to find sources that discuss local music collections, especially those found in libraries. With these results, a survey to accumulate information on current practices for managing local music collections is under development.

It was important to find as many sources as possible, across a wide geographic area and collection types, although the majority came from North America. Reading sources from all over the world that talk about collections in a range of settings (e.g. libraries, churches, privately built, etc.) increased my understanding of the contexts that exist for local music collections.

Methodology
One of the most important parts of the Literature Review was to find as many items relating to local music collections as possible, or in other words – FIND ALL THE SOURCES!
findallthesources2
There were thirteen sources that became a jumping-off point, providing guidelines for how to focus the literature review. From here, I searched for literature in a variety of locations including USearch, Google Scholar, Library and Information Studies (LIS) databases, music databases, education databases, newspaper databases, humanities databases, and a database for dissertations and theses.

As a music student, I was familiar with the library catalogue and databases such as JSTOR. However, I was not familiar with the LIS or the Education databases. There were a variety of articles from journals, books, and newspapers that described different types and aspects of local music collections. One point of interest was the range of collection types, which appear in academic libraries and public libraries, to private and government archives. Most of the sources were case studies, which discussed the challenges and successes of a particular collection.

Other sources of information were print works from the University of Saskatchewan Library and Interlibrary Loan, conference abstracts and listserv conversations from the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML), the Canadian Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (CAML), and the Music Library Association (MLA).

After completing the search, 408 unique results were saved. Although many of the same sources appeared in different search locations, Figure 1 shows where documents were first located.

The majority of the sources came from North America and Europe. It is worth noting that this may be a result of the databases searched, rather than an indication of absence of local music collections and the study of such in other parts of the globe.

Figure 1: Pie chart showing all 408 saved documents based on search location
Figure 1: Pie chart showing all 408 saved documents based on search location.3

Challenges & Limitations

The common challenge, regardless of the database being searched, was finding effective search terms for finding relevant sources. It was important when searching in places like Google Scholar, JSTOR, and USearch to narrow the parameters considerably; otherwise one would obtain thousands of hits. Full-text searches, for example, were not helpful.
onedoesnotsimply4
Comparatively, some of the LIS databases and ERIC, an education database, required only a keyword or two to find all of the information relative to local music collections that they contained.

Results

Figure 2Figure 2: Geographical distribution of sources in the literature review.5

I saved 408 sources to Mendeley. These consisted primarily of journal articles describing case studies from a variety of international locations. Three hundred and sixty of the sources came from North America and Europe, with the complete breakdown by continent shown in Figure 2. Since we were more interested in research from North America, it is worth noting that 123 of the 201 North American sources are from the United States, 73 are Canadian, and 5 are from other countries such as Jamaica.

After screening, 59 documents were selected for NVivo content analysis. Documents were included if they spoke directly to the management of local music collections in public institutions. Documents were excluded if they were less relevant to the research topic (for instance, they may describe private collections), or they may be items that provide useful context (for example, this may be a resource on developing sound collections in a library).

Conclusions

For me, completing this literature review was a little bit like a treasure hunt – what could I do to find more information? Where else can I look? This process took me to locations for research that I did not even know existed, like the IAML listserv. And, after accidentally emailing every music librarian on the planet while trying to figure out how to work the thing, I was able to add a new researching tool to my repertoire.

In conclusion, the literature review served as a means for finding sources to analyze. However, it provided more than just a list of articles. The completion of the literature review, although global in scope, created a picture centered on North America, which has been an enormous help in understanding the topic of research. Through this search for documents, it has also been possible to see how it would be best to approach the analysis, based on the what work has already been accomplished and what work still needs to be done in this field.

1Szent-Gyorgyi, Albert. BrainyQuote. “Albert Szent-Gyorgyi Quotes.” Accessed July 22, 2016. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/albert_szentgyorgyi.html
2Imgflip. “Meme Generator.” Accessed May 30, 2016. https://imgflip.com/memegenerator
3Meta-chart. “Create a Pie Chart.” Accessed September 17, 2016. https://www.meta-chart.com/pie
4“Meme Generator.”
5“Create a Pie Chart.”

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

NAP: Assisting Students Just In Time

by Tasha Maddison, Becky Szeman and Nina Verishagen
Saskatoon Campus, Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Saskatchewan Polytechnic has four campuses located throughout the Province of Saskatchewan. In 2015/16 our student population was listed at over 14,000 (Saskatchewan Polytechnic, 2015). The institution offers an array of scholastic options in certificate, diploma and degree programs. Students have access to a variety of supports such as counselling, research help and learning services (tutoring). In 2014, faculty from learning services approached a librarian about partnering up to host an event with the mission of providing students with just-in-time help for research assignments: a Night against Procrastination (NAP).

Although the event was open to all students at the Saskatoon campus, the 2014 organizers developed it to fit into the schedule of nursing students who had a major paper due that semester. It happened that during this busy time of year, the two departments were having a difficult time keeping up with students’ individual requests for help. The inaugural event was held in early November from 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm in the library’s computer lab. Students were invited to enjoy food and one-on-one homework help. This event was a success with more than 40 attendees.

The following year, to entice students from other programs to attend NAP, the organizers hosted multiple events at different times. Despite the changes, attendance dwindled with approximately 20 students attending all events. But on a positive note, we did see a more diverse set of students attending from various programs.

For our latest iteration of NAP, in 2016, our mission was two-fold: revisit the events original intent of focusing on nursing students and diversify our service offering to make it more accessible to all students. At our initial planning meeting, we discussed strategies to achieve these goals. They included, continuing to provide snacks, sitting at an Ask Us table, extending the event beyond the computer lab to the whole library, and offering mini workshops.

Successes:
We had an overabundance of snacks, so we decided to tour the library and hand them out to students. This was an unexpected success, as it opened the event to students who were present in the library, but were not there to attend NAP. We soon discovered that students were more likely to ask us questions if we approached them, organically making our snack giveaway a Roving Reference Service. Helping students where they had set up for the night led to more interactions than if we had stayed in one spot. We have carried this technique over into our recent ‘Stress Better’ event in which distributed food to students studying for exams.

Students also responded well to the Ask Us table with many approaching us at the table with their laptops in hand. Librarians responded to a total of 21 APA (references and formatting) questions, while learning services reviewed papers and offered writing support for 9 students.

Lessons Learned:
Students prefer the option of seeking one-on-one help. We had planned to host 15 minute mini workshops in the computer lab during the event but there was no uptake at all. The nursing students had already attended a 3-hour research intensive and in most cases their paper was almost complete; what they required was assistance in the last stages of editing.

Our promotion efforts fell short. We developed a web graphic for social media which received high engagement, sent an email directly to Faculty in research intensive programs, and had digital displays throughout the campus. We later learned, through anecdotal feedback, that the design (see below) might have led the students to believe that we were only hosting mini workshops and not providing one-on-one help. In addition to a graphic redesign, there are many other communication tools available at our institution that could have been utilized and we will be considering them for future events.

napblogimage2016

Final Thoughts:
Even though attendance has not increased since 2014, we feel that it is still worth doing. At our institution, students typically don’t have lengthy breaks throughout their day, and therefore, they are often unable to access librarians who work regular hours. With this event, we were able to offer students assistance at their time of need which may have reduced their anxiety. Helping even a few students improve their academic performance fulfills both our library and professional goals. We feel confident about this as a few of the attendees approached us at the end of the night and asked that we provide this sort of service more often, solidifying our certainty in this event’s value to our students.

The authors wish to acknowledge Chau Ha who initiated and hosted the event in 2014 and 2015. We also wish to recognize Margaret Campbell and Susan Healey who have partnered with us each year from Learning Services.

References
Saskatchewan Polytechnic. (2015). Quick facts about Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Retrieved from http://saskpolytech.ca/about/about-us/quick-facts.aspx

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.

Affective Research Supports: Small Actions, Big Difference

by Selinda Berg
Leddy Library, University of Windsor

In informal conversations with colleagues across Canada, as well as within the formal conversation of the professional literature, there is an underlying notion that librarians can feel a lack of support towards their research activities. It is perceived that librarians would benefit from more support from their colleagues and leaders. But when prompted, it is sometimes ambiguous what that “support” might look like. Of course, there is the obvious: funding, time, structural supports; however there is also a substantial need for affective support.

Because there are restrictions on the amount of funding, time, and structural support that colleagues and leaders can provide, I think we should consider the small actions we can take that will show our support towards our colleagues’ research.

Take the opportunity to hear about your colleagues’ research:

All too often we overlook our in-house activities and expertise and look outside of our institutions for the ‘interesting’ and ‘new’. However, there is much value in seeing what is happening internally. Just taking the time to hear about colleagues’ research is a way to demonstrate support, whether the opportunities arise at conferences or within your own institution.

It is always difficult to make decisions about what to see at conferences and there are limitations to all that we can see; however, showing up at your colleague’s presentation can be compelling. Showing support for colleagues can be one factor to take into consideration when selecting your conference itinerary.

Creating opportunities at your own institution to hear about your colleagues’ research is also very helpful. Again, we often overlook the amazing things that the colleagues in our own institutions are doing. At my academic institution, we have the Librarian Research Series where we share our research projects and people often are amazed by the great research happening within our own walls.

Acknowledge colleague’s research successes:

Keep your eye out for your colleague’s research successes, however big or small. Every step of the research process is difficult and perseverance is sometimes difficult to maintain. Acknowledging the milestones—funding successes, REB clearance, launching data collection, completing analysis, presenting findings, and publication—can help individuals push through the long process.

Take the time to acknowledge and congratulate your colleagues on their publications when you see them. Getting published is hard work. Just a quick email will go a long way to applaud and inspire researchers.

Just take an interest:

Of course, not all research is in our focused areas of interest. The research within librarianship is very diverse, spanning many fields. However, the areas are all interconnected and recognizing the ties will create a stronger research culture- a culture that values diverse areas of and approaches to research. We have much to learn from one another and the opportunities that will evolve from this learning are infinite.

What we can all acknowledge is that research is not easy, it takes hard work, tenacity, and perseverance. The tangible supports are valuable, but we cannot undervalue affective supports to help us move through our research journeys. While these small actions may seem insignificant, they can make a big difference. I do also want to encourage those in leadership positions to also engage in these small actions. When tangible supports are limited, affective support can demonstrate continued endorsement, encouragement, and validation of research in our field. These small acknowledgements and signs of support can be very powerful coming from library leaders. We all have a role in demonstrating our commitment to a strong and healthy research environment. Affective supports, which are often under-acknowledged, are small actions that can make big differences.

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.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

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

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to a close. The end of the year is always a time for reflection and there were milestones for the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) in 2016. July 2016 saw the 3rd anniversary of the opening of the Centre which was held during the 7th International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice conference held here at the University of Saskatchewan. In October, we hosted our third C-EBLIP Fall Symposium, a 1-day conference dedicated to librarians as researchers. It was a fantastic day with a keynote address from Margaret Henderson from the Virginia Commonwealth University, a range of outstanding presentations focused on research projects as well as the hows and the whys of librarian research, and of course the granola bars. This blog, Brain-Work, continued into its third year with a wide variety of posts from authors across Canada and increasingly around the world.

And speaking of an international focus, 2016 was also the year that the C-EBLIP Research Network was launched. The network is an international affiliation of institutions that are committed to librarians as researchers and/or are interested in evidence based library and information practice. Since the soft launch of a 2-year pilot at the end of April, 21 international members have joined from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland, and the United States. The C-EBLIP Research Network was created to foster collaboration and communication among librarians who are doing research, are interested in research, and/or who are involved with evidence based practice or wish to be. While the membership is institutional, the network is specifically for librarians on the ground. And of course, the more the merrier, so if you think your organization would be interested in joining the C-EBLIP Research Network, there’s a handy form you can fill out here: handy form

Well, if 2017 is as exciting as 2016 has been, we’re in for another fantastic year. C-EBLIP would like to wish you and yours a very happy holiday season and all the best in the New Year.

Using storytelling guidelines to simplify communication

by Jill Crawley-Low
Science Library, University of Saskatchewan

Recently in the University of Saskatchewan Library, a Sustaining Leadership Learning session on storytelling in an organizational setting was offered. During the half-day workshop, we learned the ways in which stories can be effective when introduced in a work setting to share understanding and connect people on a personal as well as on an organizational level. The role of storytelling in organizations includes sparking people to action; transmitting values; fostering collaboration; leading people into the future; and other good things (Denning, The leader’s guide to storytelling, 2011). We learned about a variety of storytelling structures that can be used to develop a story for almost any occasion. On a basic level, the key elements in building stories include purpose, idea, and content. If storytelling does, in fact, improve communication in the workplace then there are lots of opportunities for this practice in academic libraries.

For instance, developing a comprehensive collections strategy is a complex task with many facets and underlying assumptions, and, however appealing a complex discussion about collections’ issues may be for librarians, it is likely not so enticing to our community. So, taking advice from Natalie Babbit the author of Tuck Everlasting who said, “Like all magnificent things, it’s very simple”, we would break down the collections strategy task into manageable segments and use the storytelling methodology to focus the information to be shared and make it simple, yet meaningful. Still not convinced?

Taking only one aspect of the collections strategy, i.e., the responsibilities of liaison librarians and faculty in building collections that support research and teaching, the purpose, idea and content components guiding development of a story can be applied as follows:

Purpose – could the learnings from the storytelling session be applied to tell stories that would create transparency and create better relationships between the library and the university community?
Idea – since collections work is a passion for many librarians, could stories be used to create some excitement and understanding around a collections strategy that would be informative and interesting for the casual reader from the university community?
Content – with the intention to communicate key pieces of information, what kinds of information would be included?

If the purpose and idea are to share information about collections and enhance relationships with our academic colleagues, then the next step is to identify the content that supports the generation of a story. For this example there are a number of sources: an in-house document that outlines the potential duties of liaison librarians; the library literature that contain examples of best practice in liaison librarian responsibilities; liaison librarians can be asked to identify core values in their work, and also how they interact with faculty in supporting research and teaching; conversely, faculty can be interviewed to find out how they interact with liaison librarians, and which library services are most useful in supporting their work; and lastly discipline-specific characteristics can be included. Once the content has been gathered and the message is clear, four elements for impactful storytelling according to Denning (2011) can be applied to develop the style, tone, and final shape:

Style
– write as if you are talking to one individual, be focused, simple, clear
Truth – tell the truth as you see it
Preparation – choose the shape of the story and stick to it
Delivery – be comfortable in your own style, know your audience, connect with your audience.

The result is a story about the relationships between faculty and liaison librarians in building collections that support research and teaching. Following the impactful story development guidelines, it would be jargon-free, focussed on users, transparent and simple, and it would reveal some of the passion that librarians hold for the work they do. The story might be presented orally in meetings or in casual conversations. However, it would also lend itself to publication on the library’s website reaching a wider audience along with other collections documents. Not all topics can morph into stories, but when we want to communicate on a more personal level, storytelling is a viable option and one we might have overlooked. As Albert Einstein acutely noted, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

References
Denning, Stephen, 2011. The Leader’s guide to storytelling: mastering the art and discipline of business narrative. 2nd rev. ed. Jossey-Bass.
Babbit, Natalie, 2011. Tuck everlasting. Square Fish.

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.

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