Being Evidence Based in Library and Information Practice

Aug 2016 | 224pp

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Being Evidence Based in Library and Information Practice

Edited by Denise Koufogiannakis and Alison Brettle

This book builds a research-grounded, theoretical foundation for evidence based library and information practice and illustrates how librarians can incorporate the principles to make more informed decisions in the workplace.

The book takes an open and encompassing approach to exploring evidence based library and information practice (EBLIP) and the ways it can improve the practice of librarianship. Bringing together recent theory, research, and case studies, the book provides librarians with a new reference point for how they can use and create evidence within their practice, in order to better meet the needs of their communities.

Being Evidence Based in Library and Information Practice is divided into two parts; in the first part the editors explore the background to EBLIP and put forward a new model for its application in the workplace which encompasses 5 elements: Articulate, Assemble, Assess, Agree, Adapt.

In the second part, contributors from academic, public, health, school and special libraries from around the world provide an overview of EBLIP developments in their sector and offer examples of successful implementation.

Readership: The book will be essential reading for library and information professionals from all sectors who want to make more informed decisions and better meet the needs of their users. The book will also be of interest to students of library and information studies and researchers.

Part 1: Background and model

1. Introduction -  Denise Koufogiannakis and Alison Brettle

2. A new framework for EBLIP - Denise Koufogiannakis and Alison Brettle

3. Articulate - Alison Brettle and Denise Koufogiannakis

4. Assemble - Denise Koufogiannakis and Alison Brettle

5. Assess - Alison Brettle and Denise Koufogiannakis

6. Agree - Denise Koufogiannakis and Alison Brettle

7. Adapt - Alison Brettle and Denise Koufogiannakis

Part 2: EBLIP in action

8. Practitioner-researchers and EBLIP - Virginia Wilson

9. Academic libraries - Mary M. Somerville and Lorie A. Kloda

10. Public libraries - Pam Ryan and Becky Cole

11. Health libraries - Jonathan D. Eldredge, Joanne Gard Marshall, Alison Brettle, Heather Holmes, Lotta Haglund and Rick Wallace

12. School libraries - Carol Gordon

13. Special libraries - Bill Fisher

14. Conclusion - Denise Koufogiannakis and Alison Brettle



'Library administrators and assessment librarians will welcome this focus on practice and application of EBLIP in a variety of settings and places.'
- Judy Solberg, Library Journal

'A timely and useful guide, Being Evidence Based in Library and Information Practice demonstrates both the model for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP) and different library settings for development of this ongoing research practice. It is an extremely useful guide for developing evidence-based library improvements and a lifetime of professional growth.'

'Although ‘being evidence based is not a simple thing’, this book is essential reading to all librarians looking to develop advocacy skills and make informed decisions in the information world as it exists today.'
- Louise Auckland, Peterborough Regional College, Alexandria

'The entire book is clearly written, free of jargon (or jargon is explained succinctly), and engaging. Each chapter builds on previous chapters, and the chapters in Part 2 track back appropriately to the explanatory chapters in Part 1. If you are interested in becoming a researcher–practitioner, or in integrating data into your decision-making processes for your library, this book will be quite useful. The book also could be complementary to an introductory textbook on research methods for information professionals looking to grow these skills.'
- Lee Ann Fullington, Brooklyn College (CUNY), Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship

'Koufogiannakis and Brettle have written and edited one of the most essential books on librarianship in the last several years. They present a clear and strong case for why librarians of all settings need to integrate EBP into their workflow...The reader can gather some great ideas on starting to use EBLIP in their own practice. This book is highly recommended reading for all experience levels and types of librarianship.'
- Abraham Wheeler, Health Sciences Librarian, Michigan State University, Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries

'It is hard to imagine that more qualified authors exist for this topic than Koufogiannakis and Brettle. Upcoming and new professionals would be wise to read this book, whereas more seasoned professionals are more likely readers and implementers of the concepts presented.'
- Kathleen A. Lehman, Head of User Services, University of Arkansas, Technicalities

'How do we make the case that a library tangibly impacts the communities it serves in order to secure funding? How do we maintain, improve, reimagine, or expand a library’s services, as appropriate? In Being Evidence Based in Library and Information Practice, editors Denise Koufogiannakis and Alison Brettle make a convincing case that we do so by grounding our professional practice and organizational decision making in evidence...Library administrators will find Being Evidence Based in Library and Information Practice useful for guiding organizational decision making. For library and information science faculty and graduate students, it will be a strong complement to any research methods curriculum. However, this book will resonate most strongly with practitioners who find it rewarding not only to perform the essential work of their library, but also to apply their curiosity and creativity to figuring out how better to do the work.'
- Chelcie Juliet Rowell, O’Neill Library, Boston College, Technical Services Quarterly

'Koufogiannakis and Brettle present an excellent overview of the history and evolution of library evidence-based practice along with the current state of EBLIP. The model they have presented is demonstrated to be usable across the library spectrum. This work is highly recommended.'
- Claire B. Joseph, MS, MA, AHIP, Jules Redish Memorial Medical Library, Journal of the Medical Library Association

Dr Denise Koufogiannakis is Associate University Librarian at the University of Alberta Libraries in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. In 2013 she received her PhD in Information Studies from Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK.  Denise co-founded the open access journal Evidence Based Library and Information Practice and has held several editorial positions since the journal’s inception in 2006, including Editor-in-Chief from 2009-2011. Denise has contributed numerous research papers to the scholarly literature of EBLIP, and has served on the Program Committee of the international EBLIP conference series since 2003. In 2007, Denise was named a “Mover and Shaker” by Library Journal for her contributions to the evidence based librarianship movement.

Dr Alison Brettle is a Reader in Evidence Based Practice at the University of Salford, UK. She has specialist expertise in literature searching, systematic review methodology, evidence based practice and the evaluation of health information services; pioneering the use of systematic reviews in library and information practice.  She has over 20 years experience of health, social care and library related research and teaching environments and has led and supported a wide range of projects and published extensively.  She has been involved with the open access professional journal, Evidence Based Library and Information Practice since its inception, and was Editor-in-Chief 2012-2014.  She also hosted and co-chaired the 6th International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice in Salford in 2011.  As an active member of the UK professional body, CILIP, she leads research training and awards on behalf of the Library and Information Research Group and has recently authored a systematic scoping review on the value of professionally trained and registered library and information professionals.



Becky Cole, Learning Partnerships Coordinator, Northumbria University, UK

Jonathan D. Eldredge, Associate Professor, University of New Mexico, USA

Bill Fisher, Professor, School of Information, San Jose State University, USA

Carol A. Gordon, Principal of Gordon Consulting

Lotta Haglund, Head of Library and Archive, Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden

Heather N. Holmes, Associate Director of Libraries and Associate Professor, Medical University of South Carolina, USA

Lorie A. Kloda, Associate University Librarian for Planning and Community Relations, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

Joanne Gard Marshall, Alumni Distinguished Professor, School of Information & Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Pam Ryan, Director, Service Development & Innovation at Toronto Public Library, Canada

Mary M. Somerville, University Librarian for University of the Pacific Libraries in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Stockton, California

Rick Wallace, Professor and Associate Director, Quillen College of Medicine Library,East Tennessee State University, USA

Virginia Wilson, Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, University Library, University of Saskatchewan, Canada


Part 1 Background and model

Chapter 1: Introduction -  Denise Koufogiannakis and Alison Brettle

This book develops and rethinks the original EBLIP model. It takes an open and inclusive approach to exploring EBLIP and the ways in which it can improve the practice of librarianship. Since EBLIP’s inception in 1997 the understanding of what evidence is, as well as how and why librarians use evidence, has grown more mature. Correspondingly, this book puts forward a model and approach to evidence that has evolved but is more realistic and practical for librarians in their everyday work.

This book seeks to provide librarians with an accessible new reference point for how they can use and create evidence within their practice to better meet the needs of their communities. It is organized into two sections; the first is structured around Koufogiannakis’ revised framework for EBLIP (Koufogiannakis, 2013b), which embraces a wider breadth of evidence sources and understanding of how librarians use evidence. The new framework is described and each element of the evidence-based cycle is considered in turn. Each chapter in this section provides theory relating to this step of the model, as well as practical tools and examples to help implement the theory.


2. A new framework for EBLIP - Denise Koufogiannakis and Alison Brettle

This chapter presents a holistic and cyclical approach to considering evidence. The nature of evidence is seen as comprising research evidence, local evidence and professional knowledge; evidence can be used for individual or group decision making and convincing and influencing others. The steps involved include: articulate, assemble, assess, agree and adapt. The following chapters consider these steps in turn.


3. Articulate - Alison Brettle and Denise Koufogiannakis

EBLIP begins with a question; the need to come to an understanding of the problem and to articulate it so that what you want to better understand is made clear. For librarians this may be an area where service improvement is required, or it may be related to the management of the library’s collection, for example. It could be a question about how an instruction librarian should best teach information literacy concepts, or it could involve a big decision such as the reconfiguration of reference services in the library. Different stakeholders may have different types of questions; for example, practitioners’ questions may well be about practice, whereas managers, funders or policy makers may want evidence to demonstrate the use or value of a service. This chapter will outline the importance of a clear question and describe methods that have been used to clarify and situate questions within EBP.


4. Assemble - Denise Koufogiannakis and Alison Brettle

Working within the EBLIP process, librarians need to assemble evidence from a variety of sources that are most appropriate to the problem or question at hand. Assembling evidence is key to the whole concept of EBP, and determining the sources of evidence that one will draw upon when making practice-based decisions is paramount. We must use professional judgement to determine the best and most appropriate sources of evidence, depending upon what we want to know. Evidence may come from external sources, locally gathered data or our own professional knowledge. This chapter will start with an overview of the concept of evidence and how it relates to librarianship, explore different types of evidence and look more specifically at sources of evidence within librarianship and how to find the needed evidence. The goal of this chapter is to expand your thinking about what evidence is and to help you determine some of the sources that you can draw upon.


5. Assess - Alison Brettle and Denise Koufogiannakis

Assess is a critical part of EBLIP and involves assessing the located evidence for its quality (often known as appraisal or critical appraisal) and quantity. There is also a need to weigh up or balance the results from different types of evidence, to get to know the evidence and what it is saying and then to put it into the context of the wider, overarching problem and the situation in which the decision is being made. While previous work within EBLIP has focused on appraising or assessing research evidence, this chapter will begin with research evidence but move on to examining how to assess other types of evidence and incorporating these into the decision-making process.


6. Agree - Denise Koufogiannakis and Alison Brettle

This chapter involves determining the best way forward and, if working as a group, achieving a consensus based on the evidence and organizational goals. Quite often library-based decisions are made in groups, which could consist of an internal group of librarians assigned to come up with a solution. Even if you do work on something by yourself, at the point of decision, others may be involved. At this point in the process you must determine the best way forward, based on your assessment of the various sources of evidence (Chapter 5). It is important to remember that we all bring biases to our interpretation of the evidence as a whole, so recognizing this is an important step toward making better decisions. In this chapter we discuss some of these factors that may influence the decision-making process. Then the decision needs to be implemented.


7. Adapt - Alison Brettle and Denise Koufogiannakis

This chapter involves reflecting on and evaluating the process and examining whether the change made a difference or whether further changes are needed. Theories on reflective practice and change management may also be incorporated.


Part 2 EBLIP in action


The second section of the book focuses on the use of EBLIP in different sectors of the library profession. The context and drivers relating to evidence in each library sector are different and EBLIP has developed at different paces within each, but there are lessons and techniques to be learned between sectors. So, for example, even if you are not a school librarian, you may well find relevant approaches for your practice in the school library chapter. Each chapter considers the context and evidence base for the sector and how EBLIP is developing therein, and provides cases that demonstrate the use of EBLIP in practice. The authors in this section include leading scholars and practitioners who are actively contributing to the conversation about EBLIP today and who demonstrate the concept of evidence-based practice through their professional work. Reflecting the international nature of the EBLIP movement, the contributors have been drawn from the UK, North America and Europe.


8. Practitioner-researchers and EBLIP - Virginia Wilson

Traditionally, research has been undertaken by academics in higher education, faculty members of the professoriate who often have a 40/40/20 work assignment split between teaching, research and service. However, the perennial gap that exists between research and practice in various disciplines, including library and information science (LIS), has encouraged practitioners to conduct research to help inform their own practices. This chapter explores the challenges faced by the practitioner-researcher and the resulting benefits for the individual and the practice.


9. Academic libraries - Mary M. Somerville and Lorie A. Kloda

Academic librarianship is well suited to EBLIP (evidence-based library and information practice). In this chapter, we provide some context as to why this is the case – the rapidly changing role of academic libraries and librarians, as well as higher education institutions more generally. The knowledge base of evidence is described, in terms both of the types of research available and of the size and scope of the available evidence. The knowledge base in academic librarianship is growing quickly, due to research on developing issues in higher education and academic libraries, as well as an increased focus on assessment and evaluation programmes for continuous improvement and demonstrating value. We discuss the types of evidence sources available for academic librarians to draw on beyond the traditional journal article and conference presentation, and examine how librarians are creating evidence, in some cases by collaborating with others who work outside of libraries. Methods used by academic librarians for finding and using evidence to inform decision making are presented, along with considerations regarding organizational climate, or readiness for EBP. We conclude with examples from the academic library sector of successful application of the principles of EBLIP for informing changes in practice and transforming organizational processes.


10. Public libraries - Pam Ryan and Becky Cole

The political, social, technological and financial landscape in which public libraries operate has undergone dramatic change in recent years, presenting the sector with daily challenges. On an international level, public librarians are spearheading an unprecedented diversification of the sector as libraries become centres for those seeking a vast and multitudinous range of services: from welfare support and employability skills, to digital training, film and code clubs, makerspaces, business and intellectual property centres and exhibition and installation venues. In this shifting environment where practitioners are constantly challenged to ‘demonstrate their value and relevance’ (Irwin and St-Pierre, 2014,1), knowledge of the sectoral evidence base and the need for public librarians to embed ‘evidence based approaches into…[their] working lives’ is ever more crucial (Brettle, 2012a,2). Such evidence, in its various forms, enables library professionals to demonstrate their own impact and that of the services they deliver. This chapter features three case studies chosen to exemplify EBLIP in action in the public library sector.


11. Health libraries - Jonathan D. Eldredge, Joanne Gard Marshall, Alison Brettle, Heather Holmes, Lotta Haglund and Rick Wallace

The historical evidence suggests that the health professions might never have developed EBP had it not been for the development of sophisticated research tools such as PubMed/MEDLINE and the Cochrane Library for identifying authoritative evidence (Eldredge, 2008a). By working with health professionals in using these tools, health librarians were pivotal figures in the development of Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) and the broader EBP movement. From supporting health professionals in EBP, health librarians have gone on to develop and use evidence within their professional practices – EBLIP. This chapter will provide a context for health librarian’s work, describe EBLIP within the health library field and the state of the evidence base, and discuss the types of evidence used by health librarians. Two case studies show how EBLIP has been translated into practice and demonstrate how health librarians continue to push the boundaries of EBLIP. Finally, the future directions for research and EBLIP practice will be considered within a health library context.


12. School libraries - Carol Gordon

School libraries have played an important role in the education of young people around the globe for many decades, but today they are more critical than ever. The school library is often the best-equipped ‘classroom’ for educating digital youth accustomed to self-directed information seeking, personalized learning and content creation. Evidence for what works is increasingly important as education transitions from an industrial-age model of teaching to a digital-age model for learning. What do we want students to learn? How will they best learn it? How will we know that they have learned it? In an attempt to address these questions, school libraries are embracing EBLIP to validate and gain support for new ways of learning. This chapter examines several dimensions of EBLIP and illustrates how evidence-based approaches are changing school libraries and the work of the teacher-librarian.


13. Special libraries - Bill Fisher

From the other chapters in this book, one can assess the extent to which EBLIP has had an impact on the recognized LIS sub-fields: academic libraries, public libraries, school libraries and health sciences libraries (where things began).This chapter will put EBLIP into context for the remaining sub-field of special, or non-traditional libraries.

As with any endeavour of this nature, a few definitions are in order so as to establish the scope of what follows. For the purposes of this chapter, a special library may be part of a larger, parent organization; typically has a collection that is focused on one or more topic areas; and has a defined population of customers, so that it may not be available to the general public. Indeed, in a very large organization the special library may be funded by certain segments of the larger organization, so that the library may be available only to those affiliated with those segments of the organization that actively support/fund the library. There are also a couple of generalizations that we can make about special libraries. First, no two special libraries are alike. While most public libraries will offer very similar services and have very similar collections, if this happens with special libraries it is more by chance than by design. Second, special libraries don’t have to exist; there are rarely things like accreditation standards or mandates that compel an organization to maintain a special library. Special libraries exist to provide specific services and develop/maintain a specific collection. If the library fails to do this or those services/collections are no longer needed by the organization, that special library will cease to exist.


14. Conclusion - Denise Koufogiannakis and Alison Brettle




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