LARK Circles

NEWS: The first round of LARK Circles finished in December 2023. Expressions of interest to join LARK Circles in 2024 are now closed. Read more here.

LARK Circles are communities of practice for those interested in library and information science research, especially practitioner research. The purpose of LARK Circles is to facilitate research-related collegial conversation and peer support. LARK Circles are conceptualised as learning circles.

What is a learning circle? It is a small informal group that meets to study a subject of interest to its members. In the case of LARK, the subject of interest is research and evidence-based practice of library and information professionals (LIP) and broader, colleagues in GLAM and allied disciplines. The members of a learning circle share their knowledge and experience, learn new information and apply and test new skills.

Learning circles have a flat structure, without a teacher or tutor. Participants meet as equals. However, there is usually a facilitator who is impartial, but helps manage the process. To run the group, learning circles develop a group agreement on how it will work. Facilitators provide suggestions, but each circle develops its own agreement. In addition, the group must agree on an outcome.

Role of the LARK Circle Facilitator

The main role is to help participants in the LARK Circle understand their common objectives and
assist them with planning to achieve them. Facilitators also help with clarifying the focus and then
keeping the discussion productive. Facilitators guide the group by providing suggestions but remain
neutral in terms of the chosen focus and group’s direction.

The Facilitator of a LARK Circle
● Helps the group focus on a task,
● Helps people connect with the issues being discussed,
● Suggests methods and procedures,
● Encourages cooperation within the group,
● Helps find win/win solutions,
● Ensures everyone has the opportunity to participate,
● Does not allow others to interrupt while someone else is speaking,
● Uses questions to encourage discussion,
● Periodically summarizes the group consensus on issues to validate and clarifies the progress
of the discussion,
● Ensures there is a ‘closure’ by the end of the Circle.
● Clarifies tasks to be completed between the meetings, and
● Does not evaluate ideas.

Ground rules for group agreement

● Members should be prepared for the meeting (i.e., do any pre-reading or preparation agreed by the Circle),
● Meetings should stay to time,
● Meetings, SLACK and emails are a confidential and safe spaces for discussion,
● Group members will make decisions together,
● Everyone must be given an opportunity to participate,
● No one should dominate a discussion,
● If you disagree, remain respectful and accept that people might have differing opinions, and
● Value and encourage different opinions and viewpoints.

Reference (Ideas taken from)
EU Lifelong Learning Programme (n.d.) , Partners in Adult Learning Toolkit https://www.salto-
youth.net/downloads/toolbox_tool_download-file-1149/Partners_in_Adult_Learning_Toolkit___final_version.pdf
; viewed
25 July 2023