Guest post by Mary Delaney, Claire McAvinia & Jane Secker
In March 2016 as part of the LILAC conference in University College Dublin (March 21st – 23rd) a symposium was held titled “Librarians as Doctoral Researchers, opportunities and challenges when practicing librarians become researchers” http://bit.ly/2b383sE
This event was really well attended and generated significant discussion among librarians from around the world about the opportunities and challenges faced when pursuing research opportunities.
The session had contributions from people pursing PhD research, people considering pursuing PhD research, and others who pursued different forms of research activity. Many benefits were raised such as opportunities for collaborating with colleagues from outside of libraries such as Teaching and Learning Centres, linking research to practice and the benefits that this brings, confidence building, developing interdisciplinary dialogues, taking ownership of knowledge and experience and researching topics to “understand gaps” in the field. Furthermore the concept of professional identity was discussed and the value of broadening and raising our profile by pursuing research activities so that in addition to seeing librarians as those who support research, they are also recognised as researchers in their own right.
However, there was also extensive discussion about the challenges associated with moving beyond our more “traditional” roles. These include developing skills to pursue funding opportunities, finding the time to pursue research alongside the day job and gaining workplace support to pursue research activities. Interestingly, some of these challenges had close parallels with those met by colleagues in academic development and staff training whose roles have evolved over time and who have pursued doctoral qualifications and research.At LILAC a Google Group was set up and people at the symposium were invited to join the group to continue the discussion. A number joined and we continue to welcome new members. Find us at doctorlibrarians!
We are now following up for the next phase. What is the next step for the profession? What more can we do to enhance this debate? While there are excellent resources in place such as this very blog what else might help? How can we further develop our Google Group? How can we build on existing good work? Would a seminar raising some of these issues help? Would further training days or seminars organised by LAI or CONUL or CILIP or AISHE benefit this emerging group? What might that training look like? We want to hear from you!