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Tuesday 1 November 2011

Evidence-based librarianship #lianza11 #keynote7

Andrew Booth
Evidence based library and information practice: harnessing professional passions to the power of research

Wants to talk about a passion for continually monitoring, evaluating and improving our practice.

Four-square of:
Research   | Practice-based research
Practice     | Research-based practice

Need to be using research and researching our own service. Not just research that gets into journals, but local data.

  • EBLIP has a bit of a "cold fish" reputation. Wants to get away from this idea. Really initiative and enthusiasm is vital.
  • The Librarian knows best (aka the Divine Right of Librarians). Our passion may colour our view of what's best for users. Have to be cautious about thinking we know what our users want - doesn't always match up. See also cognitive biases (eg primacy effects, recency effects, stereotypes, perseverance of belief, selective perception). "And we all suffer from Question Framing Bias, don't we?" Librarians keep assuming there's a right way of searching, rather than showing users how to harness the skills they have - eg "the dreaded Google Search typically displays a PubMed Abstract on page one".
Can harness evidence-based practice and passion together. Quotes an informant from Partridge (2007) saying they're passionate about things so wanted to have things to "back up my passion".

We need to be evidence-based. Difference between barber (just the same inventory of skills as ever) and surgeon (body of knowledge continually built on) - also talks about the "Oops" factor: how do they behave when things go wrong? Note that abuse of evidence-based practice can be as dangerous as cutting off the wrong leg.

Using research = best practice + best use of resources. Lets professionals add value to work practices. Need to evaluate both ourselves and our professional practice. At the professional level it can inform practice, help see where we're going, raise profile of librarianship, and improve status of library.

If we're not practicing EBLIP we might be deferring to (Isaacs & Fitzgerald, 1999): eminence-based LIP, vehemence-based LIP, eloquence-based LIP, providence-based LIP; diffidence-based LIP; nervousness-based LIP, confidence-based LIP; propaganda-based LIP.

Must align evidence, profession and passion.

Role of evidence-based library and info practice
"Difference between research and using evidence-based practice to make workplace decisions". Quotes someone saying there's nothing wrong with reinventing the wheel - it's reinventing the flat tyre you want to avoid.

Not just about research. About integrating user-reported, practitioner-observed, and research-derived evidence. Not undervaluing what staff say, but restoring balance to value users too.

Start starting            | Start stopping
(innovation)             | (discontinuing
                                 | ineffective practice)
Stop starting            | Stop stopping
(not introducing       | (continuing
ineffective practice) | effective practice)

The 5 As:
Ask a focused question
Acquire the evidence
Appraise the studies
Apply the findings
Assess the impact

Reflection for, before, in, on action and Re-action.

EBLIP comes from medicine and is suitable for healthcare but less so for other systems.  So must adapt the model, not adopt it uncritically.

Eg doctors are often autonomous; librarians work together.

So rewriting 5 As:
Articulating the problem
Assembling the evidence base
Assessing the evidence
Agreeing the actions
Adapting the implementation

Q: Your last slide is about ultimate goal of EBLIP to create a toolbox we can dip into, and thus to write itself out of existence - that was the last slide six years ago so how long will it take?
A: Did think about it! There's been progress.  Still people see EBLIP as a project to stop and start, not to sustain.

Q: Can you give examples?
A: One workshop he does is called "Walking the Walk". Some great examples around developing webpages - many poorly designed - Cancer Library in the UK came up with webdesign guidelines backed up by evidence. Much has been done esp in Canada around evidence-based collection development.