Walking the Tightrope – Balancing Teaching & Learning vs Research

A little while ago I attended a very interesting seminar on balancing teaching and learning in the library field with the conducting and publishing of research.

It was a topic that I, as a relatively new librarian, had not thought much about. I’m glad that I now have this concept at the back of my mind while doing my everyday work.

The basic premise of the seminar was that we rely a lot on anecdotal evidence and many times fail to communicate our worth to those who fund us or decide our futures. By utilising an Evidence Based Practice model, we can innovate and build new capabilities. By sharing knowledge across libraries, we can grow our evidence base – improving our knowledge of where we are providing value, and what we contribute. Many librarians contribute a vast amount to the field and develop fantastic projects, but the next step is writing this up, publishing and sharing this knowledge.

I must admit, I never thought I would be capable of doing something like publishing in a journal. But by the end of the day, it was clear that it is possible.

Some great tips to get started included; researching in an area of librarianship that you have a passion for, and teaming up with/collaborating with others who have more experience. Be open to opportunities as they arise, and see that many projects and ideas have the potential to become research projects and papers.

Gathering evidence when you run a new library class etc is important! Did this session improve outcomes for students? Did they report a greater understanding? How many students attended? What could be improved and why? etc. Form a hypothesis, create a survey/collect data, analyse the results, report and publish.

Importantly, many speakers suggested that research like this needs to be incorporated into your work. Put research in your performance development plan, set aside time for it, and treat every project as a research project (but don’t reinvent the wheel!).

By establishing a strong professional literature base in the library field, we can build upon this knowledge and develop our profession.

So next time you and your team are doing an impact study, think about publishing it, presenting it at conferences, and sharing that wealth of knowledge! It may not just be the library community who are interested.

I am really excited to start building up my skills and one day publish an article and present at conferences. I only wish I had considered this as a possibility sooner! Students and new grads – you don’t need to be an expert to do this, look into opportunities now 🙂


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