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.

There’s a New Research Support Group in Town (or at least in Canada)

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

It has been my experience as a librarian who has a mandate to conduct research (the tenure and promotion process as a faculty member at the University of Saskatchewan), who wants to conduct research (I’m curious, I want to learn!), and who has been at this for the past 10 years, that support for research endeavours is an important factor in the ability of librarian practitioner-researchers to move their research programs or projects forward. Organizational support and collegial, peer support are both valuable at every state of the research process. Some are lucky enough, like me, to work in an organization with a strong culture of research and the belief in the benefits of research for an academic career and for practice. Others perhaps do not have that kind of support readily available, working solo with no evident supports or working in an organization that does not support or value that type of work.

I recently found out about a new group in Nova Scotia, Canada, the LibrariesNS Research Support Group. This group was founded in June 2015, and its ultimate goal is to “increase the amount and quality of library research in Nova Scotia.” This group is targeted to all the librarians, library workers/technicians, and LIS academics working in Nova Scotia who are interested in research. The impetus for the group, according to the proposal that you can find on their part of the Libraries Nova Scotia webpage, came from a talk given by C-EBLIP Adjunct Member and University of Western Ontario librarian Kristin Hoffmann that was held at the Halifax Public Library in April 2015 entitled “Academic Librarians as Successful Researchers.” During the talk and the ensuing discussion, attending Nova Scotian librarians talked about research in their library community – its challenges and successes. The idea for a “work in progress” support group came out of that discussion and after a proposal to Libraries Nova Scotia, the group found a home and is now rolling out various supports to librarians from all sectors in Nova Scotia.

What a fabulous idea! While librarians spend a lot of time supporting researchers who work in our various organizations, we too need support for our research endeavours. Initiatives such as the CARL Librarian Research Institute on a national level and the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice at the local level help to create a supportive and engaging environment in which librarians as researchers can explore questions related to practice (and even not related to practice!), conduct rigorous and timely research, and disseminate that research in order to inform colleagues and to enhance the evidence base for librarianship.

I’m interested in various supports out there for librarians as researchers. If your group or organization is doing something formally or informally around supporting practicing librarians who also conduct research, I’d like to hear about it if you are willing to share. You can contact me at

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.