Hazel Hall and Bruce Ryan recently organised a very successful one-day event bringing together Library and Information Science researchers, users, and end-user beneficiaries to explore the impact and value of LIS research to services delivery in practice. The event aimed to encourage the strengthening of links between these interacting communities, to help narrow gaps between LIS research and practice, and to lay the ground for future research-related support and collaborations across the sector.
All content is copyright the presenters. Video and editing by Bruce Ryan. Speaker mini-biographies are in Hazel’s recent blog-post. You can also access tweets about the event (in reverse-chronological order).
|Hazel Hall||Edinburgh Napier University||Conceptualisations of LIS research impact and value:
Learning from the LIS Research Coalition and DREaM
|Paul Gooding||University of East Anglia||The Digital Library Futures Project: How does e-Legal Deposit Shape Our “Digital Universe”?||video||slides|
|Yvonne Morris||Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)||Developing a sector-wide Research and Evidence Base Portal||video||slides|
|Andrew McTaggart||Edinburgh City Libraries||Using Data in Lifelong Learning – Examples of recent data collection and use in Libraries||video||slides|
|Sara Wingate Gray||University College London||Imagine that! Public libraries and the fiction reading public, 1800 – 2013||video||slides|
|Stella Wisdom||British Library||Playing and Making in Libraries||video||slides|
|Leo Appleton||Edinburgh Napier University and Goldsmiths, University of London||Exploring the impact and value of UK public libraries through the analysis of longitudinal focus group data||video||slides|
|Alison Brettle||University of Salford||Exploring the impact and promoting the value of LIS research in the UK: what next?||video||slides|
|Hazel Hall and Alison Brettle||Edinburgh Napier University and University of Salford||Prize draw and close||video||—–|
Outlines of the presentations
The programme started with Hazel welcoming the attendees and outlining the day’s format. Hazel then briefly described the work of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University, before moving on to the establishment of the LIS research coalition. Two major research projects sprang from that, DREaM (Developing Research Excellence and Methods) and RiLIES (Research in Librarianship – Impact Evaluation Study). Bruce worked with Hazel in 2015 to assess the ongoing benefits of DREaM project. In brief, DREaM participants continue to innovate in various ways, to the benefit of library end-users; they continue to evangelise about research methods showcased in DREaM, and DREaM has led to new opportunities. Hazel and Bruce recently published a paper with Peter Cruickshank showing how the participants continue to work as a network.
Paul Gooding spoke next on The Digital Library Futures Project: How does e-Legal Deposit Shape Our ‘Digital Universe’. This work springs from the legal requirement that copies of all books, periodicals, pamphlets, music and maps are submitted publications to a trusted repository. This is to ensure the systematic preservation of the nation’s published output. Legislation from 2013 covers websites, e-journals, e-books, digital newspapers and digital maps.
However, there are some interesting impacts, including users becoming accustomed to online remote access to library resources, and threats to publisher revenues if materials are too widely available. Hence a balance between intellectual property rights and user-access is needed. Paul also spoke about some data-driven innovations in academic research and government policy, and about barriers to digital inclusion.
Paul finally spoke about his personal experiences as a member of the DREaM cadre: how its focus on methodology has impact his research methods , and how networking has helped him to develop research programmes.
Yvonne Morris, Research and Foresight Manager at CILIP spoke next about CILIP’s work on Developing a sector-wide Research and Evidence Base Portal. This work is part of their Securing the Future strategic plan, within which CILIP sees quality, up-to-date research and evidence as essential for advocacy, sector development, for workforce development and diversity and for its own development as a professional association.
The work has proceeded in two stages: firstly a CILIP-focused evidence base was built. Now CILIP is starting work to create a sector-wide Research and Evidence Base Portal. naturally, this work started with research into other portals and stakeholder needs. The report on this research is available at https://bit.ly/2NkpkP2. The next steps include development of a prototype.
Andrew McTaggart, Lifelong Learning Strategy Officer (Libraries) for Edinburgh Council then presented onUsing Data in Lifelong Learning – Examples of recent data collection and use in Libraries. He started by showing how many items had been loaned by each Edinburgh’s libraries in a year in total, the proportions of local populations that are active library users – it seems to average around 17%. There are strong correlations between library budgets and (1) the amount of items they loan, (2) the numbers of items borrowed by active members. There is also a strong correlation between the numbers of items users reserve and the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation for where they live.
This prompted the Summer Reading Challenge to provide free activities with no economic barrier to participation, and develop literacy skills and promote reading for pleasure and associated benefits (among other items). Andrew presented some findings from the data gathered on the challenge. These included
- In lower ranking SIMD areas of Edinburgh 1 in 8 children age 5-11 participated in the challenge, with 1 in 13 completing it.
- Children in more rural areas where a library was available (i.e. Ratho, South Queensferry and Kirkliston) were more likely to participate and complete the challenge.
- School proximity to a library was key in participation and completion.
Sara Wingate Gray then spoke on Imagine that! Public libraries and the fiction reading public, 1800 – 2013. Her work is about stories of libraries – what are libraries for? She is investigating this using a case-study of Norwich library, the first public library in the UK. She pointed out that in the 19th century ‘a [new] novel cost thirty-one shillings and sixpence’: the entire weekly wages of a skilled worker or approximately three times the weekly wage of agricultural workers.
Sara then noted how newspapers can appear in court proceedings, for example Witness in an 1808 trial notes that ‘[a]bout eleven o’clock it rained very hard; I stopped at the public house reading the newspaper’ and about the various taxes then prevalent which were barriers to information-access. To understand what was circulating at the time, Sara has dug deep into the library’s archives – watch the video to see her findings!
Stella Wisdom’s presentation focused on Digital Scholarship at the British Library. Her topics included
- Off the Map Competition, which explored how the BL digital collections can be used in creative ways
- Playing Beowulf, which developed a game-authoring tool based on the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, for use by schools, universities, curators and library visitors.
- Litcraft, which uses the Minecraft platform to explore and better understand literary landscapes; e.g. Treasure Island
- Poetic Places, an app using digitised images from the BL collections in art. Check out http://www.poeticplaces.uk!
- Games & GLAMs, a forum for those who are interested in games, cultural heritage and GLAMs (galleries, libraries, archives, museums). Check out https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en-GB#!forum/games-and-glams and https://twitter.com/games_glams.
After lunch, Leo Appleton spoke about his PhD research on exploring the impact and value of UK public libraries through the analysis of longitudinal focus group data. Leo is an academic librarian but chose to study public libraries because of their social functions, political agendas (lobbying against cuts) and citizenship agendas. (There were of course underlying wider theory contexts such as the information and knowledge economies, the information society, exchange theory and social capital.) Leo expanded on some of these as he spoke about his literature review, then showed how he used a pilot focus group to explore appropriate methods for his research.
Leo then outlined his empirical research in 2014 to 2017: focus-groups with library-users in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Liverpool, Lincoln, Essex, Redbridge, Sutton and Devon. From these emerged four key themes around the value of public libraries.
- empowerment through knowledge
- print books
- community social role
- community ownership.
For example, participants saw libraries as places of safety and security, providing ‘loads of things that you can do’ and being ‘the one place where everyone is equal’. participants also said that libraries enable them to be ‘connected to individuals and the wider world’, and to ‘feel part of the community’.
After tea, including an opportunity to visit the Edinburgh Napier University War Poets Society, participants were invited to discuss one or more of the following questions, then devise a ‘table tweet’ for any single key point. (NB group discussions weren’t videoed.)
The day’s keynote was by Alison Brettle, who spoke on Exploring the impact and promoting the value of LIS research in the UK: what next? Alison spoke about how she was by professor Andrew Long to undertake systematic reviews in health and social care. This has led to, among other things, Alison’s interest in evidence-based library and information practice, and a definition of impact: the influence of libraries and their services on individuals and/or on society. The difference or change in an individual or group resulting from the contact with library services. Alison described the findings of a systematic review on the impact of clinical librarian services, which showed that these services are effective in saving time, providing relevant, useful information and high quality services AND have a positive effect on clinical decision making (contribution to better informed decisions, diagnosis, choice of drugs). Alison and her colleagues have also recently published research on The impact of clinical librarians on patient care. Such studies have led to a Value and Impact Toolkit, which can help assess inputs, activities outputs and outcomes, and has led to significant healthcare cost and other improvements, via assessment of local impact data. One example is saving almost £2000 per patient by not routinely catheterising them.
Alison next spoke about the national use of impact data – this can lead to significant procurement cost reductions. She also outlined her work for CILIP on evidence to support the employment of professionally trained library, information, and knowledge workers.
She then asked the audience (via http://menti.com)
- What stops you from doing research?’
- After today, what are you going to do about it?
- What burning RQ would you like answered?’
(We’re looking forward to Alison publishing the answers!)
Alison concluded her presentation with the thought that practitioner research, evidence and impact go hand in hand, and that there be a great opportunity to publish practitioner research at next year’s Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Conference (University of Strathclyde, week of 19 June 2019).
RIVAL concluded with a prize draw. Hazel and Bruce are sincerely grateful to Facet Publishing for draw prizes, to Edinburgh Napier University for funding the event and above all to the speakers and participants for their fantastic input during the day and very encouraging feedback afterwards.
Photos and images used in this post were all created or taken by Hazel Hall and/or Bruce Ryan, apart from the photo of Hazel which was taken by Tim Read)