Those research birds: a day with LARK

by | Sep 26, 2017 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

By Paige Wright

The post was originally published on the blog Paige the Librarian.

Friday I attended the ALIA LARK (Library Applied Research Kollektive) seminar, Holy Evidence! Research in Information Practice. This post will discuss some highlights and tips from the seminar, so if you are a GLAMR professional interested in research, read on! If you are interested in knowing more about LARK, please read their blog (which you are doing now).

The day started out with Dr Suzana Sukovic (‘Mother of LARK’, works at HETI) explaining a bit about LARK itself. She made the point that a lot of research happens in bubbles and LARK is about breaking these bubbles and making connections between LIS researchers. She noted the biggest challenges faced by LIS researchers are time, skills and that it’s not part of their job descriptions. Librarians can be aided by organisational support, communities of practice, grants to free time and interprofessional learning.

It is important to note at this point that research is a complicated topic. There are academics out there doing Research, living in the world of PhDs and peer-reviewing. There are also information practitioners who are doing research, sometimes internally for their own workplace benefit and sometimes presenting their findings at conferences. After this seminar I can see that these two types of researchers can benefit from each other. In fact, Ms Fiona Salisbury and Dr Bhuva Narayan, Co-chairs of the ALIA Research Advisory Committee talked to the group about how the ALIA research grant focused on providing support for projects in which academics and LIS practitioners collaborated.

We also heard a bit from Dr Bhuva Narayan and Dr Mary Anne Kennan about JALIA – ALIA’s journal. I learned that JALIA articles had different levels of articles, including a feature called ‘Information in Practice’ which is sharing what people are doing in the field and not peer-reviewed, although peer-reviewed research articles are also featured. It gives an opportunity for people with different research skill levels to be involved in being published.

One re-occurring theme of the day was interprofessional learning. We heard from David Schmidt of HETI who talked about overcoming barriers to research and being enablers of research. He also noted that often people put research on a pedestal, thinking it is something that people somewhere far away in lab coats do. David says, ‘If you have tenacity and curiosity, you have what you need to be a good researcher.’ One of my favourite takeaways from David’s talk was the statement that ‘Librarians underestimate their ability to enable research by connecting people’.  Here is a slide from David’s presentation, which shows off his amazing MS Paint illustration skills:

A slide from David Schmidt’s presentation

The research in LIS practice panel discussion was amazing and we heard from an academic librarian, a public librarian and a health librarian. They all had interesting projects and unique perspectives. Sally Scholefield talked about her collaboration with academics on writing a research paper on the RFID project at UTS. You can read the paper here. Liz Griffiths from Willoughby City Council Libraries discussed peer-led learning in a public library and I found the public library research perspective fascinating. Suzanne Lewis from the Central Coast Local Health District talked about her collaborative project designing an integrated care search filter. Suzanne’s research amazed me in that there were so many different people involved in the project and she managed to co-ordinate them all.

The second half of the day we heard more from our research experts on skills for research in practice. The biggest takeaways from this were 1) align your research with the strategic goals of your library and get the support of you organisation 2) Follow through all the research steps: planning, acting, observing, reflecting, organisation process, organisation support 3) Share your research, either internally with your colleagues or externally by publishing or even blogging about it.

The overall outcome of the day for me is that I am more interested in research than ever before. From here I’m going to comb the LARK blog for more tips, keep reading peer-reviewed LIS research articles, comb through my notes from the seminar and start forming my research question.  I’m interested in hearing your first-time research stories and tips. If you have any for me, please comment or tweet me at @WrightPaige.

Paige Wright (@WrightPaige) is a Special Collections Librarian at the University of Newcastle Library. Her interests include open access, digital repositories and digital special collections.


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