The librarian as researcher – new roles for the information professional

Following a highly informative and really interesting day of talks at “The Librarian as Researcher” seminar organised by the ANLTC on the 8th of May, there was a short discussion forum on the question “what can we do to advance research among librarians?

Suggestions included having bursaries towards research. It was noted though that where there is such funding, applications are few. It was suggested that people need to be braver and bolder about putting themselves in for such awards. Also noted were the opportunities for early career professionals to get bursaries to attend UKSG.

One of the presenters received funding from the Franciscans towards her research, another received funding from Trócaire towards publishing a book. Think creatively!

The issue of the Irish Research Council not recognising librarians as principal investigators for research funding was raised. It was suggested that in many areas a large amount of funding is not needed. Librarians could begin by working on a small project, speak about it at conferences, write a blog post. The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) offers mobility grants, towards the cost of carrying out research abroad.

It was suggested that librarians need to look at and speak at non-library conferences; we need to be much more aware of looking outside of our own profession – attending, for example, an education conference and talking to an audience outside librarianship. It was noted how important networking and meeting people both at conferences and in daily work is.

The perception of librarians in a service-type role rather than partners was raised. We need to do more to strengthen our role in this area and need to market/promote what we do. Suggestions included presenting posters, papers etc. at a wide range of events.

The question of research on the national agenda was raised. It was noted that while medical doctors do not necessarily have the training in research methods they are expected to write and publish. They will be remunerated at some stage, perhaps through promotion or consultancy. However librarians are generally not remunerated in the same way though, perhaps, we are better qualified at doing research. It was suggested that librarians may make the assumption that others have training or are good researchers but this is not always the case. We need to question our assumptions and raise awareness of librarians as researchers.

One way to get started is to write for professional journals then progress to peer-reviewed journals. Remember that you don’t need to put in much emphasis on research. Don’t overestimate what you need – you don’t need massive amounts of data to get started – just do it!

Being passionate about what you do help you keep going, develop your passion and keep going with it!

Laura Connaughton.

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