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Research Needs in Librarianship

  • Journal of the Korean Society for Library and Information Science
  • 2010, 44(4), pp.5-18
  • DOI : 10.4275/KSLIS.2010.44.4.005
  • Publisher : 한국문헌정보학회
  • Research Area : Interdisciplinary Studies > Library and Information Science
  • Received : July 28, 2010
  • Accepted : October 6, 2010

T. D. Wilson 1

1University of Sheffield

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Library and information research is often directed towards either the management of resources (e.g., the economics of resource management), their storage and retrieval (e.g., much information retrieval research), and the users of these resources (the whole area of information behaviour. However, the question that is less often asked is, “What research do librarians want to have carried out to help them in their work?” Clearly, some of the topics just mentioned will fall into the priority areas, but what do librarians actually perceive will be of use to them. There is a notion that a research-practice gap exists in the field and perhaps the reason for that is that researchers do not ask the practioners what research will be of value to them. To find an answer to this question on a global basis would, of course, be impossible – at least impossible without the level of funding that would be difficult to obtain from any source. However, it is possible to carry out research on a national level that could prove useful both to practitioners and to the library and information research community. This was the aim of a project, supported by the Svensk Biblioteksförening (Swedish Library Association), which was carried out in 2008/2009. Ideas on potential research projects were collected from librarians themselves, from discussion group archives and from the professional journals in a number of countries. These ideas were then grouped thematically and formed the basis of two rounds of a Delphi process to solicit the opinions of a panel of librarians in different sectors, recommended by their peers as ‘expert’ in their field. The Delphi process was concluded with a workshop involving a subset of the panel. This paper will report on the results of the investigation, which attracted a great deal of interest within the profession in Sweden, and will also reflect on issues that were ranked lowly in the investigation. For example, not a great deal of priority was given to topics relating to the development and use of technology: why was this? And would the same result be found in other countries? One major area of research interest was into the future of libraries and a topic of relevance here, especially for academic and research libraries, is the changing information behaviour of researchers: what, now, do researchers want of libraries? Clearly, technology is playing a role here, but digitized resources and the World Wide Web may not be the answer to every researcher’s need. Research into libraries and research for libraries ought to figure largely in the profession’s view of its aims, objectives and visions of the future: but for it to do so requires a recognition that the work will not be done unless researchers and practitioners come together to determine how to approach the future.

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