On Monday I attended the LIS DREaM closing conference at the British Library. Having found the previous LIS DREaM opening conference incredibly interesting (see blog post) and enjoyed participating in the LIS DREaM cadre workshops (see blog posts on workshop 1, workshop 2 and workshop 3) I had hoped to attend and was delighted to be invited to participate in the panel discussion in the afternoon.
The conference acted as a final summary of the LIS DREaM project (the funding comes to an end soon) and Hazel Hall opened the day with an overview of the project, its aims and outcomes. The evidence collected so far certainly proves that the project has been a success; it has built research capacity and capability, raised quality and standards (specifically in research training, practice, output, value, impact and influence) and secured a foundation for future research collaborations, particularly for those of us involved in the cadre and also for many who have followed the workshops from the excellent resources and options for virtual followers. The concluding conference (open to all) built on that with the keynotes and discussions during the day.
The morning keynote session was from Professor Carol Tenopir from the University of Tennessee. I have come across much of Carol’s work in the area of value and impact of library and information services, but hadn’t heard her speak before. Carol gave an excellent overview of why measuring the value and impact of library and information services is so important, what methods we might use, and how to communicate the information to different stakeholders (and even adapt the methods used depending on stakeholders and what appeals to them most). For example, Carol mentioned that for her institution, the senior managers are far more interested in the human side of things so they appeal to this by presenting quantitative and qualitative data as a portrait of success i.e. “here’s what the successful people do and how they use our library resources and services to support them”. For other organisations it might be that the headline figures are what matters in which case it will be important to collect relevant data to enable calculation of things such as purchase value. Carol also gave some information about the LIBvalue project which I will definitely be keeping an eye on. See the slides or video of her keynote for more information.
We then had 20 minutes of madness in the form of one minute madness presentations. I really like this approach to finding out about a lot of projects in a short space of time. Some of the people presenting had timed it perfectly too, very impressive! A particular highlight for me this time was finding out about how University of Northampton support their staff and encourage research across the library at all levels – Miggie Pickton spoke about some of the ways they encourage this, and Charlotte Heppell spoke about research active, the library and learning services conference which aimed to highlight research from the library to internal and external colleagues.
After lunch we had an invited speaker, Dr Louise Cooke from Loughborough University, who presented her findings from the social network analysis she did with the LIS DREaM cadre. We completed a survey for Louise at the first workshop, and again at the third workshop and she was able to demonstrate how the network had strengthened (fortunately for the LIS DREaM project!). It was interesting to see the clusters of connections, particularly when linked to job roles. Take a look at the slides or video to see the network before and after.
Following Louise’s presentation, it was time for the panel discussion which I was involved in. It also included Professor Carol Tenopir and Dr Louise Cooke, as well as John Dolan, Chair of CILIP Council. I was there to represent the LIS DREaM cadre and discuss ways to sustain the network that the project has begun to build. Although I don’t have any answers yet, I found the discussion worthwhile. As well as sharing my views and those of others who had completed my short survey, it also questioned some of the ideas and thoughts I have had and I think it helped us to begin to move to the stage where ideas can start to become actions; as the LIS Research Coalition’s involvement decreases due to funding, it’s up to us as a community to continue the progress. (Related to this, the LIS RiLIES event the following day built on this in terms of sharing research outputs and having followed the tweets from this I’m looking forward to seeing what the outcomes of that will be). If you’re interested in watching to the panel discussion you can view the video.
Following a presentation of the LIS Research Practitioner award to the North West Clinical Librarian Systematic Review and Evaluation Group, we then had the afternoon keynote given by Ben Goldacre. I’ve followed Ben on Twitter for a while now and was looking forward to hearing him speak. He was a very engaging speaker and I found it fascinating (and eye opening!) hearing about some of the ways drug companies manipulate what data gets published, as well as the ways the publishing mechanisms are skewed towards publishing positive results. In the medical world it’s obviously particularly important to ensure the information available to doctors (and patients) is the full picture, but at present the evidence base is skewed. Though it’s unlikely anyone will die if this is the case in LIS research, it’s obviously beneficial for everyone if there is wider reporting of both successes and failures. I know some of the most popular conference sessions are when people are brave enough to share the things that went wrong for their projects and how others might be able to avoid them. Ben didn’t use his slides but you may want to watch the video of his talk once it is available.
The day closed with some networking drinks and a prize draw. Sadly I wasn’t fortunate enough to win a book but I did get to see my name in print as I wrote a case study for Bethan Ruddock’s New Professional’s Toolkit (which she signed for those who won copies).
I found the day useful for reflection purposes, and particularly in terms of dissemination; I know it’s a weakness of mine in my research. I often present at conferences and events but rarely publish my research in practitioner or research publications (largely due to time constraints). I’m going to make a real effort to make time in future though as it’s so important for those wanting to continue research further or inform their practice. I’m also hoping I (and my colleagues at Evidence Base) can help sustain the network of LIS research by supporting publications, events and networking. Let’s keep the DREaM going!
I’m planning to collect more data on what people think about LIS research in the future and hope to write it up as a guest blog post for the LIS Research Coalition. I’ve reopened the survey and would really appreciate your response. It’s just five questions (posed by Charles Oppenheim) and should only take a few minutes to respond. All questions are optional so if some aren’t as relevant to you leave them blank. Please also feel free to pass the link to others. Thanks for your help.