Call for Volunteers
Happy Monday-after-Thanksgiving! I hope you’re feeling rested and refreshed. If you’re like me, you spent part of your holiday playing professional catch-up, reading articles, blog posts, books, what-have-you, and mentally mapping out a research project or two. For someone who enjoys librarianship, this isn’t work; it’s a labor of love. However, I admit to moments of wanting to chuck the whole thing and live “off the grid.” I think most of us feel at times the work we do is not valued by others, and I am no exception. Support from others is needed to stay positive and engaged, and at these moments my husband is my best friend and therapist. (Thank you, dear!)
An administrator on my campus recently told me in conversation that, in his opinion, faculty are very good at what they do but not very good at explaining how it contributes to the University’s mission. Faculty (and librarians are faculty on my campus) are often so involved, he said, in their own disciplines/silos that they do not see the bigger picture. I’m sure this has always been true in higher ed, but now it seems we must see the bigger picture and think of terms not only of contributing to our institutions’ missions but also of building the perception that we contribute to them.
How to do this? To begin, we can follow Megan Oakleaf’s advice in her recent editorial for College & Research Libraries, “Do the Right (Write) Thing”:
Librarians might begin their value research by asking themselves the questions, “What part of my job makes the biggest difference in the lives of students, faculty, or administrators at my institution? In what ways does my work impact their ability to meet their goals, outcomes, or missions?” Once librarians articulate library value in these terms, they might also ask themselves, “Do I have evidence of my impact? How might I gather that evidence in an ethical and purposeful way? Who might I share that evidence with?”
Once we’ve thought that through, we need to collect our evidence, write it up, and present it to our decision-makers to support our requests for resources, staff, and so on. Oakleaf again:
To institutional decision makers, small-scale, local studies can be just as convincing, and sometimes even more compelling, than large-scale studies involving other institutions… Even the major disadvantage of local studies, the perception or reality of “self-serving” results, can be counteracted by following ethical, responsible research practices and by clearly stating all study limitations.
Finally, we need to share our “small-scale, local studies” to support and learn from each other. There are many ways to do this in our growing professional literature. For example, the blog In the Library with the Lead Pipe publishes peer-reviewed blog posts that are indexed in LISTA. Another growing area is that of open access journals. A quick perusal of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) reveals over 120 open access library and information science journals, including the following:
Communications in Information Literacy
Evidence Based Library and Information Practice
Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects (IJELLO)
Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology (IISIT)
Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship: A Quarterly Publication of the Science & Technology Section, Association of College & Research Libraries
Journal of Information Literacy
Journal of Library Innovation
Journal of the Medical Library Association
Kansas Library Association College & University Libraries Section Proceedings
Library and Information Research
North Carolina Libraries
Whatever the format, these publications/blogs do a wonderful job of supporting the profession and continuing the conversation among librarians about how to demonstrate our value as a profession. The CRD Board would like to join this conversation. At its last meeting the CRD Board officially approved the concept of a CRD-sponsored, online, peer-reviewed (or peer-invited), open access journal for PA librarians. The Board agreed to form an ad hoc committee to explore the concept and develop a plan. The intent is the journal will publish articles on “small-scale, local” research being done by Pennsylvania librarians (academic, public, school, or special) and possibly contain short videos of individuals giving presentations or demos, similar to JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments). At this point, we have no limits in mind (OK, some limits — there are not unlimited funds : ).
As incoming CRD Chair, I will form an ad hoc committee to explore how to proceed, considering things like scope, audience, frequency, platform, costs, indexing, etc. I am seeking at least 6 volunteers, PaLA members, who have an interest in and/or expertise with writing, using social media, publishing, or designing. If you are interested in volunteering, please send me a brief email at lsn5383 (at) gmail (dot) com detailing your interest and background by December 17th. I anticipate the committee will start up at the end of January, meeting primarily online using Skype. If you have any questions or comments, you can either post them here or contact me by email. Thanks!