I am a 'practitioner' rather than an academic, but, at least here in the UK more and more libraries, both public and academic are doing research on some level to justify their existence.  With library closures and staff cuts in the ascendancy, research that is conducted and presented in a professional way can help make a difference between keeping your job and finding yourself on the street.  

But the greatest thing I took from my MS thesis was an understanding of project management:  setting a clear aim,  consulting with stakeholders,  conducting a literature review, planning a methodology, writing a Gantt chart, writing a proposal and then carrying out the actual research, and finally writing up the results--these skills are easily transferable to defining, conducting and completing a project, and there are few libraries in this day and age where projects of one sort or another are less than the norm.  I find myself using my research skills frequently, and have been pleased to have had the opportunity to have learned these skills in a supportive environment of library school.

It's all about transferable skills, which is really what higher education is about. 

Kathy Whalen Moss
Project Cataloguer
John Johnson Collection
Bodleian Library 

From: Suzanne Stauffer <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, 29 May, 2009 13:12:30
Subject: Re: [eduCAT] Whom do you pay attention to?

Do practitioners really "conduct most of the research?" I certainly did not do any research as a practitioner in public libraries, and didn't know anyone who did. Most of my colleagues were extremely dismissive of research, and never felt any need to conduct any. We weren't encouraged to do so by the library administration, it wasn't part of any job description, nor were we given any time for such activities. 

How are you defining "research?" Are you referring to questionnaires and surveys or something more? The closest I or any of my colleagues ever came to "research" was keeping track of the number of reference questions asked at the desk or the number of participants in library programs and turning those numbers into the administration. 

I would like to have had the time and support to conduct actual research as a practitioner. I would like to have collected useful data and analyzed it and used it for program planning and collection development, but there was absolutely no administrative support for it whatsoever. There wasn't any support from my colleagues, either.

First I think we have to find some way to convince the masters students that research is valuable and should be part of their professional career. Most of our students are narrowly focused on the practical aspects of the program. We offer a research methods course once a year as an elective. A handful of students take it. We also offer a course in publication once a year; it also has just enough students to carry it. I had 5 students in the History of Books and Libraries course this year, and probably won't have more than that next year.

I also think it we have to develop support within the profession for research. Students will only see research as important when they see that it will be part of their job description.
Suzanne M. Stauffer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of Library and Information Science
Louisiana State University
275 Coates Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Fax: (225)578-4581
[log in to unmask]


From: Discussion List for issues related to cataloging & metadata education & training on behalf of Janet Hill
Sent: Thu 5/28/2009 5:09 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [eduCAT] Who do you pay attention to?

This may be somewhat off topic for a group devoted to cataloging education
.... but not TOTALLY off topic.

I gave a paper last week, at a conference on The Ethics of Information
Organization.  As best I could tell, registrants included lots of students,
lots of LIS educators, and not-quite-so-many practitioners, although it was
a pretty good mix. At the reception on the first evening, I fell into
conversation with one of the LIS educators, and we drew a number of threads
from the day together, as he said something to this effect:

<<I suddenly realized that in LIS schools, we lavish a lot of time
individually mentoring our PhD students in research (how to frame a
question, how to choose a method, how to follow up, how to target a
publishing venue, reviewing drafts, etc.) but our MLS students get maybe a
research methods class and a few projects to complete.  And all the while,
it is the practitioners who make up most of the profession, and who will
conduct most of the research, and publish most of the papers, and if they
are in academic libraries, they'll HAVE to do research and publication.  And
the same thing is true of preparing for or planning a career -- we mentor
the PhD students intensively, but the masters students not nearly so much.>>

And reflecting on that conversation, it brought to mind many previous
conversations and thoughts from over the years.  That although ALA accredits
the masters programs, the schools that offer PhDs may define themselves or
assess their worth based on the PhDs, or the faculty may have greater
affinity for the PhD students, since overwhelmingly that is their

Well ..... practicing catalogers and technical services managers (and all)
have to do research and investigation and inquiry in real life, and many are
required to publish.  And the profession and discipline grow through
contributions of those in the profession -- most of whom have the terminal
professional degree. 

What's the balance?  Do you prepare catalogers (and their ilk) for the
possibility and necessity of research and publication, and for conducting
it?  Do schools that have both masters and PhD programs define themselves
too much in terms of their successes in PhD "production" and overlook the
real needs of practitioners for knowing how to do research, for
understanding an obligation to contribute to the knowledge of the field
through inquiry and publication?

I'd be interested in your reactions, contradictions, information,
verification, whatever.

Janet Swan Hill, Professor
Associate Director for Technical Services
University of Colorado Libraries, CB184
Boulder, CO 80309
[log in to unmask]
"For we are catalogers, and therefore the elect of God.  To read is human;
to catalog, divine."  Charity Blackstock.  Dewey Death.