Friday, May 6, 2011

Practicing Librarianship

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I do. I mean, I know what I do during the day, but how do I make decisions about what I do? How do I know that what I am doing is the best way to do things? Or even what I should be doing at all?

Typically my practice comes from my education (which vaguely exists in the back of my mind), previous experience, talking to my colleagues and the institutional culture. Sometimes I feel this is enough for my practice – I know that teaching information literacy instruction sessions too far before an assignment is due is less effective because students are not yet ready to learn what I have to teach them. However, sometimes I wish that my practice came from more systematic reading or study on the subject. What is the best way to analyze my collection? Well, it depends on a whole lot of factors about what function the collection serves. Then it depends what information would be most useful to examine. Then it depends on what tools and information are available to me.

I have become interested in evidence-based librarianship (EBL) – the use of research to inform practice. Librarianship is not theoretical, it is a discipline tied to real work practice. One of the kinds of professional development I need to do is exploring topics like collections using EBL literature. I can also contribute to the field by systematically examining my practice. This is not research done to create theoretical models or new theories (although that research can be useful) but this is research about what I do on a day-to-day basis.

I am not yet sure how I will fit this type of reading and professional development into what I do, I just know this is the direction in which I want to go.

~Becky Willson

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