Earlier this year, I attended a one day ‘Research for LIS practitioners‘ seminar put on by ALIA in Sydney.
Last year, I completed a FOLIOz course in Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP), also offered by ALIA.
This is a little story about the blurring of the lines between the two.
One of the criticisms I hear (and agree with) about our profession is the dearth of original research that furthers the profession as a whole. I loved being at ALIA Access last year and I enjoyed watching the twitter stream from ALIA Information Online this year – but much of what is presented at these conferences is yet more examples of ‘what we did in our library’, which, while interesting and useful and worthwhile, don’t do much to further the profession overall and seem to be examples of EBLIP. Very good EBLIP, don’t get me wrong.
I’m sure it’s not unique to LIS professionals – but we seem to be very good at telling each other about the things we are good at (and the things that didn’t go so well) – the problem is, we are often preaching to the converted anyway so it is all just more of the same. Following Online, there was much discussion among my twitter PLN on the future of the conference format – but that’s probably another post.
The ‘furthering our profession’ research seems to be most likely to come from the many PhD proposals that were discussed as participants took turns outlining their reasons for being at the seminar.
Meanwhile, I struggled a bit with the EBLIP course as I didn’t quite understand at the beginning the difference between research and using evidence based practice to make workplace decisions. Much of what was outlined in the EBLIP literature was to do with evaluating previous research (or actually, previous ‘what we did in our library’) to build a business case or plan for proceeding with something in the workplace. The whole point was to avoid re-inventing the wheel.
It didn’t help my confusion that the ‘burning question’ I formulated during the course proved to be something that there actually wasn’t very much literature on – further blurring the line between EBLIP and research (for me). I forget the details of the question, but it was to do with international students and information literacy instruction as that was something I was dealing with at work at the time.
I had hoped to get over to the UK this year to attend EBLIP6, partly to further my understanding of these 2 different, but overlapping areas of research (and partly to see my brother who lives over there!) but it was not to be. I look forward to following the progress of the conference via the twitter stream and the papers that come out of it.
In the meantime, I continue to be a bit confused.
Here at MPOW it’s nothing to get involved in projects that are technically a little (or even a lot) outside one’s area of expertise and professional knowledge. I’ve blogged before about this so it’s nothing new.
The particular ‘things’ that are taking up my time at the moment include teaching academic skills as our usual tutor is off on maternity leave, helping to put together an application to run a Masters of Professional Accounting at MPOW, worrying about the specific language and cultural issues that our students face and how to best put together assistance for them, training teaching staff in the use of the student management database system and trying to find a way to fit some sort of infolit training into our students’ very packed timetables.
Top of my worry list is the academic skills stuff. One of my (many, I’ll admit) soapboxes is the absence of teaching pedagogy in our training as librarians. Infolit I’m reasonably comfortable with, I teach that to my own kids all the time but academic skills is a different thing, particularly here when it is often combined with some English language difficulties as well. In addition, our academic skills program seems to be largely contained in people’s heads so I’m trying to get it out onto paper and into some sort of formalised course structure (or at least some lesson plans!). This caused my first headache – I had absolutely no idea how to start going about doing this. I’ve since read and read and read and feel like I have done enough reading to award myself a GradDipEd but was still a bit lost. Until……
I tweeted the other day about my joy at finding the UTAS Teaching & Learning site:
Just found this wonderful UTAS site – has answered most of my questions, could be pedagogy love http://bit.ly/9KjfAL
I feel like I’m on a roll now (well I was until the MPA application stuff came up and took up most of my week)- this site tells me what I need to know, as opposed to what I need to be teaching others – and this is what I was having trouble finding. Tick that box.
The other major issue filling up my ‘thinking’ time is the lack of information and evidence based practice (or even questions and thoughts!) relating to organisations like MPOW. We are small and highly specialised so while I have learnt SO MUCH from my colleagues/tweetmates in the academic world little of it actually fits well with what goes on here. Similarly, although we share many characteristics with Specials, I don’t have a special library – I have students with academic needs.
I know there are other private higher education organisations out there but by the very nature of the private, for profit-ness of these organisations, we don’t collaborate or share ideas. A project I would love to get my teeth into is whether in fact the libraries and information centres from these organisations could do some collaborating or idea sharing without jeopardising any commercial-in-confidence stuff and bringing the wrath of investors down on our collective heads. Sort of like CAUL for minnows…
This turned out to be a bit deeper than I thought it would be for a Friday afternoon post – particularly after the brain-frying, depression-inducing, mind-numbing and painful processes of proofing, correcting and assembling I’ve been doing this week!
image: Be Prepared by Mykl Roventine via flickr
Coffee and home made banana bread this morning, accompanied by a quick flick through InCite – it did land in my letterbox a day or two ago but I’ve been very busy commenting on blog posts and hadn’t even opened it until this morning.
I was struck immediately by Kate Davis’ article about research in Energise-Enthuse-Inspire. This introductory ‘how to’ seems to be the perfect article for me at the perfect time in my newly formed career. I have vague ideas about some vague areas of professional interest to me forming vague structures in the back of my mind. In spite of having attended (and enjoyed) RAILS2 back in 2005, the world of research is quite foreign to me. I know that I want to contribute, to have my say, to present at conferences, to have things published and Kate’s article has given me plenty to think about in mapping out that path.