Breaking the time barrier: Making time for research in a busy world

by Denise Koufogiannakis
University of Alberta Libraries

Finding the time to do research is a huge issue that many librarians face. Research studies have shown that librarians perceive time as a barrier to both doing research and being an evidence based practitioner (Turner, 2002; Booth, 2011). My own research found that time was a determinant of evidence use by academic librarians. It acts as both a barrier and an enabler depending upon an individual’s circumstances, particularly with respect to their work environment (Koufogiannakis, 2013). In general, though, we usually think and talk about time as a barrier, so the focus is negative, often without any solutions to the problem being proposed.

I think one of the biggest issues in relation to time being a barrier is the “culture of busy” that surrounds us. A culture of busy is one where we talk about being “busy” as if it were a status symbol, a badge of honour, a way to show we are important and successful. It’s a way of bragging, masked within a complaint. But it is not meaningful. Unfortunately, we talk this way a lot, including in the workplace.

Busyness also an easy excuse for saying no to doing something, when you don’t want to dig deeper. It’s is way too easy to simply say “I’m too busy,” or, “I don’t have time,” without giving it a second thought. Sometimes you actually face a different barrier such as needing to improve your research skills, or not feeling confident enough to do research, but it is easier to just blame a lack of time.

In librarianship, I think we also worry that doing research is an ‘extra’ and that our peers will judge us negatively for doing research, especially during a time when we all seem to be doing more with less – that others will say, “if you had enough of a job – were as busy as me – you would not have any time for research”. This is the culture and attitude that we need to try and break! Librarian contributions to our profession through research are very important in order to tie research to areas of practice and advance knowledge in our field.

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

I don’t want to dismiss librarians’ feeling that time is a barrier to doing research, but I do want to step back and ask that we start to think about what we might be able to do to make time, and how we can place time for research as a priority. Let’s reframe how we look at the time we have and where research fits within our overall landscape. We need to fight against the culture of busy that makes it much easier to simply say I don’t have time rather than figuring out how we can make time. Let’s start reframing our discussions in order to move toward a place where doing research is more important than being busy with a bunch of other “stuff”. Ultimately, this means looking at time as something that is ours individually to shape and take greater control over.

The premise that librarian research is important is key to all of this. If something is important then you will make time for it. It becomes about prioritizing all the things you have to do and not letting research always sink to the bottom. I’m not saying research has to be your top priority – for most librarians it is not. But if it is at all important to you and you want to do research, then you can prioritize it over other things, and find ways to make time for it.

How do we make this idea work in reality? It starts with being mindful about what you spend your time on, your priorities, what you want to achieve, and where research fits in that mix. Above all, do research that interests you, that you are passionate about, that you are curious about; research that will sustain and fulfil you. It’s also important to take a pragmatic approach to doing research – plan what you can reasonably achieve, schedule time for research just like anything else you do, set reminders, give yourself deadlines, aim for presentation or paper submission dates, and find someone who will push you along. If you are doing all or some of these things, research is going to become a normal part of your day, part of what drives you, and hopefully, something you want to keep doing and will make time for.

Let’s drop the busyness and take back our time to do research. Let’s make time because research is important to our profession. Let’s show one another that we can make time, and support one another in doing research so that it becomes a norm and something to be celebrated.

“You will never ‘find’ time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” – Charles Bruxton

References

Booth, A. (2011). Barriers and facilitators to evidence-based library and information practice: An international perspective. Perspectives in International Librarianship, 2011(1). doi: 10.5339/pil.2011.1

Koufogiannakis, D. A. (2013). How academic librarians use evidence in their decision making: Reconsidering the evidence based practice model. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Aberystwyth University, Wales, U.K.

Turner, K. J. (2002). The use of applied library and information studies (LIS) research in New Zealand libraries. Library Review, 51(5), 230-240.

This blog post is based on a presentation given at the C-EBLIP Fall Symposium, October 14, 2014.

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.

Reflections on Research

by Margy MacMillan
Mount Royal University Library

With apologies to Shakespeare: Some are born to research, some achieve research, and others have research thrust upon them . . . and it sometimes feel as though all three are true, often all at once. Whether research is something you have to do, love to do, or just plain do as a part of solving problems, reflecting on what aspects of the tasks YOU find most appealing might reveal some useful patterns.

How do I know this? I did the research! With me as a subject. Yes, it was as uncomfortable as it sounds, at least at first. Then it was… fun, and ultimately very helpful.
When I said I could talk about the What and the Why of research at the C-EBLIP Fall Symposium, I thought it would be easy. What could be simpler than expounding on the motivations for research and the questions that might arise? Teaching an elephant needlepoint. Does the Why lead to the What or vice versa – or do What and Why, the question to be investigated and the reason for the investigation have to occur at the same time? I started thinking in moebius loops where the What and Why become one another simultaneously.

Moebius photo

I searched for answers within. Why had I done research? Were there patterns in the questions? This research required a sunny day, a comfortable chair, and a beverage and was repeated until saturation was achieved. To keep track of reflections I developed a chart.

chart_blank

In filling out my chart, I realized I had NEVER looked at the whole pattern of my research experience. (Have you?) Using mixed methods, noting frequencies, and identifying themes emerging from the discourse, I was quite relieved to find there were patterns, although not always the patterns I thought I’d find. I also discovered connections between what I had thought were a series of random acts of research, and a path that led naturally to where I am now, at the intersection of EBLIP and SoTL – more about that in another post.

chart_filledin

It turns out, getting angry with the literature, borrowing from or intruding upon other disciplines and having a practical outcome have consistently been important to me. Some ‘ideal research conditions’ have changed over time – collaboration was not a key factor at the beginning of my library work but has become something I now seek out. As Dr. Vicki Williamson noted about library staffing in her presentation, research sometimes requires Buying, Building, Borrowing, Balancing and Blending.

In subsequent reflection on this reflection, my conditions for memorable research were not strict either/or conditions but points on continua. It’s not that I don’t like theory, it’s just that while I appreciate those who do, I’m drawn more to applied projects. This kind of realization means that while I may not always be able to control the What or the Why, by paying attention to the How, I can work toward more memorable, even enjoyable research experiences.

A comment in the session by Jo Ann Murphy at USask sparked yet more reflection. She talked about research we do on a regular basis – the kind of research that ends when the problem is solved, and not when the presentation is over. This ‘unsung’ research also requires refining questions, developing methods and analyzing results, we just don’t write about it much, and we should. It’s something we need to MAKE time for (thanks Denise Koufogiannakis!) individually so we can spend less time collectively answering the same questions.

On a final note, what a treat to be on the beautiful UofS campus in a room full of engaged, fascinating library folk, listening to an amazing range of presentations. I’m still processing what I heard, and hoping to network with more than a few of you for ideas/ tips/ tools and theories for my next projects.

The presentation is here. I invite you to chart your profile and comment on the common factors in YOUR memorable research experiences below. Hmmm, sounds like an interesting study…

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.

IMG_1025resizeLongRoom

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.