I’m out at the Library Research Seminar VII at the University of South Carolina! This conference has an irregular schedule, so I’ve never been able to attend before, but I’ve long admired it from afar. I presented and helped with a 3-part preconference focusing on research and assessment processes in library and information science. I started the first day presenting the preconference session so the first session I attended as a participant was in the afternoon. It featured two short presentations focused on health and featured Jenny Bossaller, Denice Adkins and Kerry Townsend talking about Challenges & Capacities for Libraries Supporting Rural Health. The second session was Vanessa Kitzie and Travis Wagner talking about Resituating Public Library Values to Leverage Health Information Practices of South Carolina LGBTQ+ Communities. They conducted qualitative interviews that used information worlds mapping and created a conceptual model from their data that began with contextual conditions and moved through risks and/or barriers to seeking and using information. Risks encountered in information practices led to self and community protective behaviors, while barriers led to self and community defensive behaviors.
On the second day, we presented the 2nd part of the preconference focusing on research questions and assessment. In the afternoon, I attended a panel called Research on research: Studies in support of academic librarians who want to succeed as researchers. It featured the authors of articles about librarian research:
- Hoffmann, K., Berg, S., & Koufogiannakis, D. (2017). Understanding Factors That Encourage Research Productivity for Academic Librarians. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 12(4), 102-128.
They conducted a quantitative survey of the research behaviors of librarians and archivists and found that research output was associated with individual attributes (demographics, education/experience, personal commitment to research etc.), peers and community (collaboration, community, peer support etc.), and institutional structures and supports. They did not find that any one area contributed more than the others to research output and an environment that supports researchers in different ways may be best. Other research has tied institutional expectation and support to research productivity, but this study did not find a strong association.
- Kennedy, M. R., & Brancolini, K. R. (2012). Academic librarian research: a survey of attitudes, involvement, and perceived capabilities. College & Research Libraries.
They used Albert Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy to inform a domain-specific scale and used it to evaluate the relationship between research confidence/self-efficacy and research success. They found that confidence in doing research was associated with greater research output.
- A recently (successfully!) defended dissertation called Development of Research Competencies among Academic Librarians by Nina Exner
This dissertation took a qualitative take on examining the research behaviors of academic librarians. Theoretically, it used Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) to conduct thematic analysis on the data and found that LIS research is iterative and the process of becoming a librarian researcher is one of “learning by doing.”
- Ackerman, E., Hunter, J., & Wilkinson, Z. T. (2018). The Availability and Effectiveness of Research Supports for Early Career Academic Librarians. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 44(5), 553-568.
They surveyed early career and recently-tenured academic librarians to ask them about their knowledge and skills and institutional support for research. They found that many librarians surveyed relied on informal mentoring in the research process over formal research supports. They found that the only two formal institutional supports that were positively associated with research confidence were access to a statistical consultant and the ability to request research time. They suggested that this was potentially because both required a high degree of awareness about research trajectory in order to communicate to a consultant or supervisor about research intentions.
On the last day of the conference, we conducted the final follow up to the preconference focusing on data visualization and analysis. After that I attended a panel discussion on using evidence-based inquiry using student led focus groups by Rachel Besara, Lindsey Taggart, and Tericka Brown from Missouri State and Zachary Jones and Louise Lowe from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.