UBC Okanagan’s First Researcher-in-Residence Day Report

by Marjorie Mitchell
Research Librarian, UBC Okanagan Library

A small and intrepid group of librarians and archivists gathered on December 15, 2017, in the University of British Columbia Okanagan Library Special Collections room for a day focused on the processes of conducting research. Librarians from Okanagan College and UBC’s Vancouver Campus joined their Okanagan colleagues to hear Jane Schmidt talk about her experience conducting research while on sabbatical, the challenge of peer-review for a topic that takes a critical stance, and, following the publication of her article Little Free Libraries®: Interrogating the impact of the branded book exchange, the media attention she and her research partner, Jordon Hale, received. Jane talked candidly about doing research on a topic she was passionate about, creating strong research partnerships with people who have complimentary skills, and about managing the aftermath of publishing an article critical of a US-based not-for-profit organization that caught the media’s attention.

In the question and answer time following Jane’s formal presentation she said one thing she would have done differently was to have secured ethics approval for portions of the research. She ultimately ended up excluding from her article what she learned from following social media on the Little Free Libraries® because she hadn’t sought ethics approval in advance of joining the closed Facebook group whose members are all people who built individual installations of a Little Free Libraries® box. A participant also asked Jane how she would have done this research if she had not been on sabbatical. Jane emphatically answered that the research would not have happened!

Following Jane’s candid and engaging talk, invited speakers Pierre Rondier and Mary Butterfield, both from UBC Okanagan, talked about writing grant proposals. Pierre focused on information about applying for Social Science and Humanities Research Council grants including the types of grants available, their scope, deadlines and criteria. Mary shared her insight as both a person who helps members of the Faculty of Management to write grant proposals and as an adjudicator for community grants such as community arts grants and grants from the Central Okanagan foundation. Both agreed researchers need to thoroughly understand the criteria of the grants for which they are applying.

The final session of the day was a panel presentation and discussion of research collaborations. Jane Schmidt talked about working with her researcher partner who was a student at the time they worked together. Sajni Lacey spoke about finding research collaborators during her time as a contract academic librarian prior to starting at UBC Okanagan on a tenure track. Finally, I spoke about collaborating in a large group over long distances highlighting my participation within the national studies on research data management practices of groups of faculty. Audience members added their experiences to the discussion to round out the breadth of variety of research, especially research done while on sabbatical or study leave.

Participants expressed an interest in seeing this type of event happen again.

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.

12 questions for new year’s research reflection

by Carolyn Doi
Education and Music Library, University of Saskatchewan


New Year’s Resolutions” by Jorge Cham

We’ve made it to 2018! For many of us, 2017 was a bit of rough one. The new year, with promise of new possibilities, is a great time to reflect and move forward with resolve. While I am generally skeptical of those long new year’s resolutions lists (do I really need more on my plate?), I do find it helpful to take time to plan for the year ahead.

When it comes to academic timelines, January is more of a half way point than a beginning. One busy semester is now behind us and one still yet to come. Often my research projects fall to the back burner in the fall, while teaching, research support, and collegial obligations become bigger priorities. With conference season coming up in the spring and summer, making sure those promised papers and presentations are well underway is critical.

I would like to use this new year as an opportunity to reflect on my research activities to this point, where I am now, and where I need to get to. Nothing like a quick check in to get the ball rolling. If you’re in the habit of keeping a research journal, feel free to borrow these questions and document your own answers.

The Researcher’s 12 Questions for New Year’s Reflection:1

1) What was an unexpected win (big or small)?
2) What was an unexpected obstacle?
3) What was the best research tool or resource you discovered this year?
4) Who within your research network did you build the most valuable relationship with?
5) What was the biggest change in your research?
6) In what way(s) did your concept of your research grow?
7) What was the most enjoyable part of your research?
8) What was the most challenging part of your research?
9) What was your single biggest time waster?
10) What was the best way you used your time?
11) What would you try if you knew you could not fail?
12) What was biggest thing you learned?

The jury is definitely out on whether setting resolutions is an effective way of achieving change. Resolvers seem to have a higher rate of success than non-resolvers, when combined with self-efficacy, skills to change, and readiness to change. But, this may also depend on the type of goals we set. Personally, I’m keeping my own resolutions simple this year with two questions: What do you want to bring into 2018? What do you want to leave behind?

Check out #academicresoltuions or #365papers on twitter for some inspired goal setting. Whether you are a resolver or not, here’s to a productive, insightful, and healthy research year ahead!

1Adapted from Tsh Oxenreider’s 20 Questions for New Year’s Eve.

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.

Season’s Greetings from the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

by Virginia Wilson, Director
C-EBLIP

It’s that time of year when we reflect on the year just past and look forward in anticipation to the New Year.
Christmas bokeh

By William Brawley [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

2017 was a year of change for C-EBLIP. We saw the arrival of a new Dean of the Library. Melissa Just joined us in February 2017. With new leadership came the challenge and excitement of changing priorities and new ideas. The University Library hosted the very successful national Access conference in late September so C-EBLIP took a hiatus from the Fall Symposium. We wished her well as our research facilitator, Carolyn Pytlyk, moved to another role within the University. And we welcomed a brand new research facilitator! Katya MacDonald came on board in November 2017.

2018 will see the return of the C-EBLIP Fall Symposium. Be on the look out for the call for proposals in early spring and make plans to join us for a great day of sessions focusing on librarians in our researcher role. We are also planning another pre-symposium workshop which will be a professional development opportunity related to research. And, as announced earlier this winter, the very first C-EBLIP Spring Writing Retreat will be held April 9 – 13, 2018 at the Temple Gardens Hotel and Spa in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Space is limited so book your stay now. You can find all the details on the C-EBLIP website. And of course, Brain-Work continues its 4th year of being a space for librarians to talk about their research, explore professional issues and ideas, and share what worked and what didn’t. The longevity of this blog is heartening to me and I thank those fine contributors from across Canada and around the world who share their work via Brain-Work. I also thank our readers, without whom a blog would be pointless.

In closing, I hope you have a very happy holiday season. Happy New Year and all the best in 2018!

Planning the Access Library Technology Conference

by Shannon Lucky,
Library Systems and Information Technology
University of Saskatchewan Library

In September the University Library at the U of S hosted the 25th Access Library Technology Conference. The core planning team (Jaclyn McLean, Craig Harkema, and myself) are still wrapping up the last loose ends and paying the last of the bills before we hand everything over to the next planning committee, but we have had time to reflect on the last year of planning and what made the event a success. The TL:DR is that smart delegating and asking for help saved our sanity and made Access a much better conference than we could have done on our own.

The longevity of the Access conference is remarkable – it is not led by an academic association and doesn’t have much of a formalized structure. It is supported by a community of library technology people dispersed across Canada who pass the organizing role from institution to institution each year. It had been 19 years since Access was last hosted in Saskatchewan (Access 1998!) and it felt like we were overdue for a return to the prairies.

Organizing a conference is one of those tasks that academics take on because someone has to do it, but it isn’t something library school prepares you for. In some ways, this makes Access a great conference to host, in other ways the lack of guidelines was daunting. There are so many ways to mess it up.

We were handed the keys to the conference – logins credentials, a comfortable budget (that we didn’t want to empty for future years), and documentation from previous years – and were told to start planning immediately. There are only a few traditions we were advised to continue: we should livestream the conference for free (which we did – recordings on the YouTube channel), keep it a single stream program, continue the Dave Binkley Memorial lecture, and make sure there are enough socializing opportunities (and enough refreshments).

Our core team was well balanced and it was a real pleasure working with Craig and Jaclyn, but we were appropriately intimidated by the amount of work that needed to be done in less than a year. In response, we delegated like crazy. This may be the most successful thing we did during the entire process. By dividing up tasks into discrete projects with well-defined time commitments and expectations we were able to approach colleagues and Access community members to pitch-in in ways that utilized their strengths and were (hopefully) professionally beneficial for them. Making targeted asks rather than a general call for volunteers also may have helped us solicit time from very talented and busy colleagues.

The major volunteer contributions that made this conference possible were:

  • The program committee (Charlene Sorensen, DeDe Dawson, Karim Tharani) who wrote and advertised the call for papers, coordinated the peer reviewers, and created the timetable. This felt like a gargantuan task, perhaps the biggest part of making the conference successful, and having this work happen smoothly while we dealt with more prosaic tasks was a big help.
  • Peer reviewers, mainly members of the Access community, who volunteered online to review proposals. We were impressed with the number of volunteers and their thoughtful feedback.
  • The diversity scholarship committee (Maha Kumaran, Naz Torabi, Ying Liu, Ray Fernandes). I could not be prouder of how well the diversity scholarship program worked this year. We were fortunate to have Maha, whose research involves diversity in libraries, agree to lead this committee who designed the application and adjudication process, spread the call for applicants well beyond the typical Access circles, and made their decision after reading many qualified applications. The excellent work of this committee made me feel confident in our process of awarding the scholarships and it is one of the top things I will recommend to future organizers.
  • Hackfest workshop leaders (Darryl Friesen, John Yobb, Curt Campbell, Donald Johnson, Andrew Nagy) who organized workshops on the first day of the conference including hauling gear and coordinating their groups of registrants.
  • Conveners (Megan Kennedy, Tim Hutchinson, Carolyn Doi, Danielle Bitz, Joel Salt) who coordinated, introduced, and moderated questions for each block of speakers.
  • Social events (Sarah Rutley) who managed to transform all of our crazy (and sometimes terrible) ideas into three days of great activities, coordinating multiple vendors, food allergies, and last minute changes.
  • Hotel logistics (Jen Murray) who was the central contact point between the committee and our venue – having one person focused on all the details around the space, food, and time schedules was a lifesaver, particularly when things went off the rails.

In other areas, we ponied up and paid for professional services including the venue, catering, AV support, live streaming, and registration system. All money well spent. The downside is that I know we had enthusiastic, talented members of our local library community who would have gladly volunteered and done a fantastic job. It’s almost a shame we didn’t have more work to do. Almost.

There are many more people who made this event successful including the support of the U of S Library and Dean Melissa Just, Virginia Wilson who gave us great advice based on her experience hosting the EBLIP7 conference, Carolyn Pytlyk who helped me write our SSHRC Connections grant, past Access organizers, and all of our sponsors. I also want to thank all of the attendees who were so engaged and enthusiastic about both the perogies and the conference program. The whole process was so much fun you can count me in to host again in 19 years – see you at Access 2036.

Access 2017 organizers and volunteers

Access 2017 organizers and volunteers celebrating a successful conference by throwing axes.

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.

Open Access is just the Beginning…

By DeDe Dawson
Science & Scholarly Communication Librarian, University of Saskatchewan

Lately I have been making lots of presentations on open access (OA) to faculty, administrators, and other campus groups. Mostly these presentations are well received, but often there is some push-back too. The majority of the push-back is related to stubbornly persistent and widespread misunderstandings or misinformation about what OA is (and isn’t) and how it can be achieved. I can handle that. But occasionally, I also get the “OA is too radical” kind of push-back. This I can’t handle. Because really, OA is just the beginning…

Let me explain.

One of the main reasons we need OA is because the current system of scholarly publishing (especially for journals) is dysfunctional, unsustainable, and inequitable. It has become this way because academia has handed over control of the scholarly literature to large, commercial publishers that care primarily about ownership and revenues (some “non-profit” scholarly publishers are no better). These entities have systematically bought up smaller publishers and society publishers resulting in an oligopoly.

“This consolidated control has led to unaffordable costs, limited utility of research articles, the proliferation of western publishing biases, and a system in which publisher lock-in through big deal licenses is the norm.” (SPARC, 2017)

OA gave the possibility of some relief. But now these same publishers are co-opting OA. They have cleverly incorporated OA as an additional revenue stream in hybrid journals and new OA megajournals. And academia is spending more money than ever, not just on astronomical subscriptions – but now also on article processing charges (APCs) for “gold OA.” All to buy back, or make accessible, research that has already been paid for by grants and faculty salaries. This is not how it was meant to be! OA is still achievable without hemorrhaging more and more funds to commercial publishers. This money can be better spent.

We currently have a system for “green OA” – posting manuscripts in institutional or subject repositories at no cost to authors or readers. We could conceivably bypass traditional journals entirely and simply use networks of interoperable repositories as the infrastructure for scholarly communication, overlaid with platforms to manage peer review and promote discoverability, etc. Academics already provide the content (research papers), and the quality control (peer review, editorial work). And academic libraries can provide the technical infrastructure, curation, and long-term preservation. COAR’s Next Generation Repositories initiative advocates for something along these lines:

“COAR’s vision is to position repositories as the foundation for a distributed, globally networked infrastructure for scholarly communication, on top of which layers of value added services will be deployed, thereby transforming the system, making it more research-centric, open to and supportive of innovation, while also collectively managed by the scholarly community.” (COAR, 2017)

I know, I know, this is not exactly simple. We have considerable ingrained academic culture and incentive structures to contend with (prestige journals and Impact Factors anyone?); but it is worth striving for as a long term goal to free our institutions (and our research) from the commercial overlords. The enormous amounts of money currently tied up in overpriced subscriptions could eventually be redirected to supporting this infrastructure and there’d likely be remaining funds to reinvest in more research or student scholarships.

The trouble is commercial publishers are now seeking to control this infrastructure too. Elsevier has been pretty transparent about its new strategy of buying up software and platforms that support researchers at all stages of the research lifecycle. Examples include Mendeley, SSRN, and bepress. They have also developed Pure, a current research information system (“CRIS”), to sell to university administrators for research assessment and analytics. Elsevier is clearly attempting to enclose all key elements of the research enterprise – to sell back to us (at inflated prices no doubt). This feels strangely familiar… ah yes, it is what they’ve already done with the scholarly literature!

Academia must get ahead of this trend for once. We must be as strategic and cunning as the commercial entities. We must collaborate across institutions and nations. We must maintain control of the infrastructure supporting the research enterprise. The first and most basic step is to financially support open infrastructure as David Lewis suggests in his 2.5% Commitment:

“At the end of the day, if we don’t collectively invest in the infrastructure we need for the open scholarly commons, it will not get built or it will only be haphazardly half built.” (Lewis, 2017).

So, OA is just the beginning. Now we need to move on to supporting open scholarly infrastructure owned and controlled by the research community. We cannot allow this to be co-opted too.

Further reading:
Accelerating academy-owned publishing – In the Open blog post, Nov 27, 2017
Join the Movement: The 2.5% Commitment – In the Open blog post by David Lewis, Sept 29, 2017
The 2.5% Commitment – Short white paper by David Lewis, Sept 11, 2017
Elsevier acquisition highlights the need for community-based scholarly communication infrastructure – SPARC news release by Heather Joseph and Kathleen Shearer, Sept 6, 2017
Elsevier’s increasing control over scholarly infrastructure, and how funders should fix this – SV-POW blog post by Mike Taylor, May 22, 2016
Tightening their grip – In the Open blog post by Kevin Smith, May 20, 2016

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.

Suggested Readings on Diversity and Decolonization

by Lise Doucette
Assistant Librarian, University of Western Ontario

What role does the library have in addressing issues of privilege and oppression? What do we mean when we talk about diversity? How can libraries contribute to decolonization and reconciliation processes? I’ve raised these topics with colleagues at my own institution and beyond, garnering a range of responses from defensiveness and discomfort to thoughtful and critical conversation.

Learning through reading, listening, reflecting, and discussing is essential, and in this post I’ve compiled selected links and brief summaries of reports, conference keynotes, journal articles, blog posts, and books, which often have their own list of references or recommended readings. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts, as well as recommendations of other readings in the comments below.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Interrupting Whiteness is a book list put together by the Seattle Public Library to support their public programming on “What is the role that white people can play in dismantling white supremacy and its related oppressions?”
• Ithaka S&R’s 2017 report on Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity: Members of the Association of Research Libraries Employee Demographics and Director Perspectives details the results of an investigation on inclusion, equity, and diversity-related issues in staffing of academic libraries. Some of the findings demonstrate a significant lack of self-awareness – for example, libraries that are more racially homogenous than the average see themselves as more equitable and more inclusive than the overall library community, by a larger margin than the more diverse institutions.
• The 2017 ARL SPEC Kit on Diversity and Inclusion documents activities that ARL libraries are currently engaging in and provides materials related to staff development programs that foster an inclusive workplace and climate. It’s an updated and expanded version of the 2010 ARL SPEC Kit on Diversity Plans and Programs.
• Dave Hudson’s article On “Diversity” as Anti-Racism in Library and Information Studies: A Critique (Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies) challenges diversity as the dominant framework of anti-racism in library and information studies.
• Two books from the Litwin Books and Library Juice Press series on Critical Race Studies and Multiculturalism in LIS have been published – Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science, edited by Gina Schlesselman-Tarango; and Teaching for Justice: Implementing Social Justice in the LIS Classroom, edited by Nicole A. Cooke and Miriam E. Sweeney.
• In the article White Librarianship in Blackface: Diversity Initiatives in LIS (In the Library With The Lead Pipe), April Hathcock examines how whiteness has “permeated every aspect of librarianship, extending even to the initiatives we claim are committed to increasing diversity.”

Decolonization, Indigenization, and Reconciliation

• The Canadian Federation of Library Associations published its Truth and Reconciliation Report and Recommendations in May, 2017, which includes recommendations for decolonizing practices in Access and Classification, Indigenous Knowledge Protection, Outreach and Services, and Decolonizing Libraries and Space.
• The two keynotes from the WILU 2017 conference are available to watch online: Appropriation or Appreciation: How to Engage Indigenous Literatures (Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair) and Librarians, wâhkôhtowin, and information literacy instruction: building kinship in research relationships (Jessie Loyer).
• The keynote from the Access 2017 conference is available to watch online: The trouble with access (Dr. Kimberley Christen). In her keynote, Dr. Christen examines “library and archives practices related to access in the context Indigenous sovereignty, reconciliation, and on-going struggles of decolonization.”
• In her blog post Beyond territorial acknowledgments, âpihtawikosisân discusses the increased presence of territorial acknowledgements in Canada and delves into the purpose and practice of territorial acknowledgements, and the spaces where they happen.
• In 100 Ways: Indigenizing & Decolonizing Academic Programs (aboriginal policy studies), Dr. Shauneen Pete provides a list of “ways to indigenize and decolonize your academic programs [that] is not meant to be prescriptive. This list provides suggestions to help deans and faculty begin to commit to greater levels of Indigenization in their program planning and delivery.”
• In Decolonization is not a metaphor (Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society), Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang note that the “easy adoption of decolonizing discourse by educational advocacy and scholarship, evidenced by the increasing number of calls to ‘decolonize our schools,’ or use ‘decolonizing methods,’ or, ‘decolonize student thinking,’ turns decolonization into a metaphor.” However, “Decolonization brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life; it is not a metaphor for other things we want to do to improve our societies and schools.”

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.

KISS and Julie Andrews: My (unlikely) muses for effective information literacy instruction

by Megan Kennedy
Leslie and Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library
University of Saskatchewan

Perhaps strange bedfellows, but Julie Andrews and the rock band KISS are my muses for effective information literacy instruction.

In the classic film, The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews sings “let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start” – this little ditty has been a guiding principle for all my information literacy instruction thus far in my academic career.

Starting at the beginning is so simple, and yet, at least for myself, I often assume that I can jump ahead. When I began delivering information literacy instruction to students this earlier this year, I assumed a few things:

1. Students would be familiar with and understand some of the jargon I would be using (search engine, catalogue, index, database, metadata, indexing fields/record fields, Boolean operators, controlled vocabulary/subject terms and many other librarian-y terms)
2. Students would have some familiarity with the databases I was going to be talking about because they had used them in the past
3. Students would be familiar with the library website enough that they could comfortably navigate to things I was talking about

After just one session – that admittedly ended with a group of very confused looking students – I realized that this was not going to work; my students needed to know do-re-mi before they could sing! So how did I fix these issues going forward? By always starting at the very beginning and never underestimating the importance of providing simple navigational guidance – it doesn’t do students any good to know the ins and outs of searching CINAHL if they can never find the database on the library website. I’ve also tried to incorporate informal polls/assessments in my teaching to gauge current understanding about the topic I am talking about and to help me assess where more attention needs to be paid and what can perhaps simply be a refresher. Something that still needed to be addressed was the language I was using when talking with students, notably my use of unexplained library jargon.

KISS stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid – a wonderful little phrase I picked up from my high school history teacher. The premise is not novel but I find that this plucky acronym helps to center my focus when explaining particularly “librarian-y” concepts. For example, did you know that the only people genuinely excited to talk about metadata are librarians and other information folks? Students, for the most part, are not interested in the specific details of data about data, discovery, findability, indexing, etc. I learned this the hard way when talking to a student about how citation managers get the information needed to generate a complete citation. Unfortunately for this student, my librarian brain took over and I talked for a good ten minutes about the intricacies and importance of record metadata. The wide-eyed look I got at the end of my speech told me everything I needed to know, I had not kept it simple and had now confused this poor student. I tried again and slowed down and thought about it from their perspective, what are the essential bits of information they need to know to understand this concept (no more and no less)? I then gave the student a much simpler explanation, something along the lines of “metadata is the behind the scenes information of an item that makes it possible for you to find it. Citation managers can read this information from the item to compile what’s needed to make a citation”. I could practically hear the light switch flip on in their head – they got it.

When it comes to information literacy instruction, our tacit knowledge as librarians can be a double-edged sword. It makes us excellent “knowers of things”, “information wizards”, “database Yodas” and other delightful monikers, but it can be a somewhat unnatural and awkward process for us to actively stop and think about what we know, how we know it, and how we can explain it in simple and relatable terms. I let Julie Andrews and KISS lead the way for me* – start at the beginning and keep it simple.

*I also like to imagine Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp teaching the band KISS to sing using the do-re-mi song so that also keeps things interesting.

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.

Cultivating a Culture of Curiosity? The Benefits of Doing So if Research is on Your Mind

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

[This post was originally published on the LARK Library Applied Research Kollektive blog on August 31, 2017.]

Many information organizations strive to create a culture of research for different reasons. Some, like many Canadian academic libraries, do so to encourage their librarians who are required to conduct and disseminate research for professional advancement, i.e. tenure, permanent status. Others have embraced evidence based library and information practice (EBLIP) where research alongside professional expertise and what the users want/need is prevalent. Still others see research as an important part of librarianship where research can inform practice. And then there are combinations of the above. Indeed, our own University Library has spent the last 10 years developing a robust culture of research, where research and scholarly activity are supported and encouraged, as librarians are faculty members and on the tenure track. We also consider the tenets of EBLIP in our practice of professional skills.

However, many librarians do not have extensive training in the research enterprise. Library schools offer the obligatory research methods survey class and unless the librarian also has another graduate degree or opts for the thesis route in library school, research experience is not a given. So, when a librarian comes into a culture of research, it can be daunting and frustrating no matter what supports are offered and a common difficulty for new librarians is trying to think of or decide on a research topic. It seems to look (simplistically1) like this (click on charts for a clearer view):

Even though we ask candidates about their research interests, often the idea of the actual doing of research doesn’t hit home until the candidate is faced with the realities and requirements of the tenure process.

The research life cycle2 looks something like this:

This seems to be a robust and thorough depiction of the research process (although I might use the term “data” instead of “assets” in the Implementation box). I like how this process encourages open access publishing and includes social media as a source of impact metrics. It’s good stuff. But nowhere in this process is there a description of coming up with a research topic. It presumes that the topic is there and the research question is already at hand.

I wonder then if the idea of a “culture of research” is too late in the game. There are many different cultures an information organization can strive to create: culture of learning, culture of excellence, culture of success, but what about a culture of curiosity?

Curiosity
1: desire to know:
b: interest leading to inquiry – intellectual curiosity – Her natural curiosity led her to ask more questions.
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/curiosity

 

A culture of curiosity is in line with encouraging research amongst librarians as researchers. As defined by Merriam-Webster, curiosity is interest leading to inquiry. Fostering a culture of curiosity with the implicit and explicit aim of curiosity leading to research allows the research piece to be part of the natural process of having a question and seeking an answer. A culture of curiosity would look something like this:

Research, therefore, would be part of the process – just not the starting point.

But if the organization requires research and indeed it is part of a librarian’s job, that fact cannot be ignored. Can a librarian put that requirement to the back of their mind and go into their job all wide-eyed and curious? Surely there will be the looming spectre of research outputs and then the pressure to be curious in the right way – a way that will lead to an answerable research question. I don’t deny that the scenario could happen, and I’m not trying to institute tricking your employees into doing research as an active strategy. I believe we can have both a culture of curiosity and a culture of research, and that they will build on one another moving forward. Curiosity leads to questions which lead to research which can lead to innovation. An added bonus of working within a culture of curiosity is that curiosity will also increase employee engagement and provide the continuous impetus to examine and reflect on the work so to be open to innovation.

How does one develop a culture of curiosity? Obviously, having management that is on board with such a culture is important. However, in browsing around about this topic, I compiled four ways to encourage curiosity that anyone can try:

  1. Write agendas as questions: using the premise that employees are more engaged when they feel like they can influence the outcome, set up meetings that are as participatory as possible and encourage interest by structuring agendas in the form of questions.
  2. Encourage collaboration: because great ideas don’t generally happen in a vacuum, have employees work together often and in different groupings. They will be exposed to the talents of their co-workers and can take advantage of cross-unit ideas and inspiration.
  3. Get rid of fear by embracing failure: research and publishing can be a hot bed of disappointment. Harsh peer reviews, rejection letters, uncooperative methodologies – there are many ways to find yourself down the wrong path. An organization that calmly accepts that failure is a part of progress will enable employees to move on to the next thing faster and with confidence.
  4. Encourage questioning: while it is true that constant questioning has the risk of causing defensiveness, realistic questioning of policy and processes can help to stimulate new ways of thinking and new ways of doing the work. This is also the place where research topics are born.

A culture of curiosity will benefit not only the librarians who have research as a mandate, but also all the library employees who are working in the information organization and the organization itself. Encouraging curiosity, creativity, and innovation can help in a sea of constant change. And in our fast-paced work world, keeping pace with or ahead of change will serve us all better. And if a research mandate is on the table, curiosity is a must to achieve something relevant and useful.

Works consulted
Goodman, R. (2016, June 1). How to build a culture of curiosity [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.rickgoodman.com/build-culture-curiosity/

Kalra, A.S. (2015, October 23). 10 ways to build a culture of curiosity. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from  http://www.humanresourcesonline.net/10-ways-build-curious-company/

Karl, A. (2013, November). Create a culture of curiosity: guest blog by Allan Karl. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marksanborn.com/create-a-culture-of-curiosity-guest-blog-by-allan-karl/

Milway, K.S. and Goldmark, A. (2013, September 18). Four ways of cultivating a culture of curiosity [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/09/four-ways-to-cultivate-a-culture-of-curiosity

1I say simplistically up above because of course candidates at our library know prior to being hired that they must do research. We focus on it specifically during the hiring process to avoid blindsiding someone coming in.
2“Research Life Cycle” image from UC Irvine Library Digital Scholarship Services Found on University of Michigan Scientific Discovery Path of Excellence – An Information Resource Starter Kit http://guides.lib.umich.edu/DiscoveryPoE

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.

Public Library Research by Public Librarians

By Meghan O’Leary, MLIS
Collections and Reader’s Librarian, John M. Cuelenaere Public Library
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

Most people reading this blog will already be familiar with the research process, so this post will not go into much detail on that. What I am going to talk about are research methods public librarians may want to utilize, as well as some other factors they will have to consider before getting started on a research project.

First, what type of research methods work well for public library research projects? Most of the research I do at my public library is statistics based; however, the following are some research methods that could work well for public library research. Leedy and Ormrod’s (2013) Practical Research: Planning and Design was the textbook we used in school and it is a great resource if you are trying to think of appropriate methods for your project. You may have a different method you think would work well in a public library setting, so I encourage you to comment and share your ideas!

Qualitative

    • Reference interviews
    • Focus groups
    • Photo narrative with follow-up interviews – Shailoo Bedi & Jenaya Webb (2017) wrote an excellent article about using photographic methods in library research. See the full reference down below.
    • Public consultation sessions
    • Qualitative questionnaires

Quantitative

  • Statistics (patron stats, collections stats, usage stats, etc.)
  • Anonymous surveys
  • Quantitative questionnaires
  • Behavioural mapping

The second factor public librarians need to consider before starting a study is the ethical framework behind their research methodology. When I was in library school I was taught that if you are dealing with one-on-one humans, asking personal questions, you need to get ethics approval before getting started. With the help of Virginia Wilson, Director of C-EBLIP, I contacted Beryl Radcliffe, Human Research Ethics Specialist (Behavioural) from the University of Saskatchewan’s Research Ethics Board (REB) and asked her some clarifying questions about research ethics for public libraries. According to Beryl, public libraries are not required to go through a REB to do research, nor is there really any mechanism for them to do so. There are some for-profit REBs out there but applications are expensive and are usually only used for clinical trials. Public library research tends to deal mostly with improvement of programs, assessment, and physical space; therefore, it is not necessary to get ethics approval. There is no point in wasting funds to get approval you do not need. If there is no need to go through a REB for public libraries where can public librarians go for approval of their research project? The first step would be to talk to your superiors and seek approval from your library’s Board of Directors. Second, check with your local professional association, for example, the Saskatchewan Library Association, to see if there are any research guidelines listed for their members.

On top of answering my questions, Beryl also gave me some helpful ethics tips for public librarians wanting to do research:

  • Go through an REB application process, even if you do not intend to submit it because it will help you with planning your research project and will usually provide templates for consent forms, agreements, etc. The University of Saskatchewan REB documents are online and free to look at and use. Institutional REBs, such as the University of Saskatchewan REB, cannot approve unaffiliated research, but going through the process will ensure that you have covered all your bases, so to speak.
  • Tell people why you are asking them questions and what you plan to do with the information you gather. If you let people know how you plan to use the information people tend to be more open with their answers, which can provide better data.
  • If you are still concerned about research ethics you can take the TCPS 2 Tutorial Course on Research Ethics (CORE) and get your certificate of completion. Here is the link: http://pre.ethics.gc.ca/eng/education/tutorial-didacticiel/

Since I briefly mentioned it before, I will now talk about the third factor that public librarians should consider before starting their research project – funding. Doing research does not have to cost a lot of money. There are, however, unavoidable expenses that come with doing research. The money for travel costs or honorariums, for example, needs to come from somewhere. There are grants available online, and if your research is going to be used to further develop and improve your library, attaining one of these grants should be a simple matter. Consider which sector your research falls under and search for grants in that area. For example, if your research deals with programming for senior citizens, consider a grant from Employment and Social Development Canada or New Horizons for Seniors. If your research is specifically about the library building, apply for community infrastructure grants. For example, last year Western Economic Diversification Canada offered a Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program grants.

If you are unsuccessful in obtaining a grant, try pitching your research project to your library board. Explain why you want to do the research, why it is important for the library, and why you need funds to accomplish it. There may be reserve funds that can be brought forward to help with your research. Another option is to approach your professional organization and see if they offer grants for research, or ask if there are any funds available for research in exchange for future conference presentations.

The last thing public librarians should consider before starting their research projects is how to gain access to scholarly articles when, generally speaking, public libraries do not have access to academic journal databases. Or, if public libraries do have access to some academic journals through a database subscription they tend to be quite limited. There are a few options one can consider. First, check to see if you have access to your alma mater’s online journals. Most of the time, as an alumna, you will have access to the journals if you are physically on site. If this is not possible for you due to distance, your next best option is to search for open access journals. Evidence Based Library and Information Science hosted by the University of Alberta Learning Services is an excellent resource, but also check out the Directory of Open Access Journals to find some peer-reviewed journals in the discipline you are researching. There are some other ways to get the articles you need, such as the Twitter #icanhazpdf hashtag, SciHub, and LibGen; however, it would be better to try and get what you need through more official sources.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post, and I hope if you are a public librarian wanting to do research you found this article helpful. If you have any other tips for public librarians please leave a comment!

References
Leedy, P. D. & Ormrod, J. E., (2013). Practical research: Planning and design. (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Bedi, S. & Webb, J. (2017). Through the students’ lens: Photographic methods for research in library spaces. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 12 (2). Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.18438/B8FH33

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.

Can you always do “just one more thing”?

by Jaclyn McLean, Electronic Resources Librarian
University of Saskatchewan

I grew up hearing the refrain “just one more thing” about my dad, usually around 6 p.m., as we were all sitting down to supper and his chair sat empty. One of us would say, “well, he probably had just one more thing to do.” And then we would sigh, or laugh, and eat. Now, this isn’t a post about nature/nurture, but I do find it curious that I often find myself trying to squeeze in just one more thing, at the end of the workday, or before going to sleep, and this attitude that I’ve always got time to squeeze something else in can get me into trouble.

Like now, as I am diving into not one, or two, but three new research-type endeavors (and wrapping up a fourth). All with specific and overlapping timelines; and different methodologies and topics. So how did I get there? It’s entirely my own fault, not that I feel negative about it. All of the projects are interesting, variously collaborative and solo, focused on publishing, presentation, and art curation. I am excited about all of them, and can’t wait to dig in and get past this beginning stage.

Planning how the projects will intersect and cohabitate in my brain for the next few months is key. To that end, I’ve been working out a detailed Gantt chart, and working on accepting that this chart will change on a weekly, if not daily, basis. I enjoy having lots on the go, different projects and ideas to divert my attention. I also like making lists, schedules, and organizing my time (and that of others, my collaborators should be warned). A key to my success is going to be paying attention to this careful planning and checking in regularly on the established timelines, shifting and nudging things around as things change.

I need to accept that this will all feel overwhelming at some point down the road. Probably when the days get shorter, and the deadlines loom much closer than they do today. Because you see, this isn’t the first time I’ve found myself with a lot on my plate. And I’ve learned that if I can do all the pre-planning, and have an established plan to shift and flex with, I am more effective. Flexibility and rolling with the punches is not my nature, but I am optimistic, and excited about the opportunities coming my way with these projects (and those that might emerge out of them in the future).

But it’s also time to sit on my hands, and stop coming up with new ideas of things I would like to do. Because I need to make sure I don’t exceed my capacity, and switch my perspective from excitement to dread, from optimism to overwhelmed. Stopping the flow of new ideas isn’t something I’ll be able to stick to (it’s good to recognize your own flaws, right?), but I am committing here, in this public forum, to write them down for later, or share them with someone else who might be able to take them and run. And I will keep reminding myself that my slate is full for this year. And as we head into a fresh new academic year, doesn’t that sound exciting?

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.