The still empty library slowly darkened, behind the desk stood the librarian, lost in thought, quietly contemplating the days work. He reviewed his day, feeling pleased with his effort and what he had achieved. Yet, he wondered, as he took in the small library where he worked, what next? What more was for him? Were his friend’s right and was he in a dead end job?
Last month a link to the New Zealand Library & Information Management Journal – Nga Pūrongo arrived in my inbox. The first article is A Good Read: Library Management Journals Useful to Managers of New Zealand Public Libraries / Graham Baker. Below is the abstract for that article:
This study explores the use of journals on the topics of library practice and business/management by managers of public libraries in New Zealand. Previous research on library journals has focused on academic journals published in the USA, ranking them on the basis of their perceived academic “prestige”. This study researches the relative “usefulness” of journals and publications on the topics of library practice and management/business. Using a self administered questionnaire the research probes the perceptions and behaviours of managers of public libraries in New Zealand on the use of academic and practitioner journals in their work. The report concludes that managers of public libraries are active users of journals on the topics of both library practice and business/ management. Those library managers who participated in the research have a preference for practitioner publications over academic journals. Survey respondents ranked APLIS the most useful journal. The highest ranking academic journal in the study was The New Zealand Library & Information Management Journal.
So I sat and had a long think. I then discussed my thinking with my better half, which gave me more things to think about.
I read Graham’s article and thought Ok, that’s useful information for library managers, but what about the professionals in smaller libraries that don’t have access to some of those journals through their institutions? Are they or their libraries going to have the necessary funds to subscribe? APLIS is not very expensive at $45.00 per year, and most people will receive The New Zealand Library & Information Management Journal through LIANZA membership. And yet in today’s economic climate $45.00 can be a large sum, and the $100.00 for LIANZA might seem a lot too. So how are library professionals going to access literature? There are some resources out there for example INTERNET LIBRARY FOR LIBRARIANS has some links to free full text articles, but many of the links are to databases, where you still need to subscribe.
There is also the question of whether it is useful to read articles? How much relevance is there in academic literature for practising professionals? Also to consider is that we have adopted Professional Registration with the aim of creating a “graduate” profession. I can see the value of both. Research and the literature it generates gives a range of resources from which the practising professional can draw inspiration from to innovate in their work. At management level it also gives evidence to back up arguments when challenged, especially when challenged about budgets in this fiscally dangerous time.
The following is a snippet of a conversation, or more accurately recollections of several conversations, merged into one, which I have had.
“Why should I join LIANZA”
“Um, it gives you access to a community of professionals, and involvement will help with your career development”
“Yeah that’s all well and good but what else?”
“Cheaper CPD opportunities”
“Work pays for those anyway”
“That’s lucky, but did you know you also get Library Life and NZLIMJ with your membership”
Which leads to this point: Maybe LIANZA should provide access to one of the full text Library Management databases, like Library Literature & Information Science Full Text, for members.
Then the following email came though from NZ-Libs
“I have been interested in the various posting to the NZ Libs listserv about Tui Smith’s article. I read the original article and was quite surprised at her findings and wondered about her sample. I come from a science background where everything has to be peer-reviewed and there is a lot of concern about achieving unbiased results but hadn’t really considered whether the articles in the LIANZA journal were peer-reviewed or not. As a general rule, I think letters debating issues raised in articles should be published and that, where possible, articles should be peer-reviewed. However, this article was written by a student and should be judged on that basis. When it comes to assignments, one is restricted by the parameters set by the tutors. If a research study is required this is usually fairly limited in scope. Students don’t have the knowledge, resources and time to set up large, comprehensive studies. As a student myself, I can imagine how I would feel if one of my assignments, that I wrote using the best of my knowledge and ability, was published and then was the subject of letters of criticism. Obviously this article was published because it won a prize so I am concerned about the awarding of a prize to an article that relies on a study with such a small (and possibly biased) sample without this being acknowledged in the article. Maybe it was the best article that met the criteria of the prize. The terms of the prize state “The winning paper may be published in an appropriate LIANZA publication” (emphasis added). Perhaps this article shouldn’t have been published.”
It made me consider the nature of Library publishing and research in New Zealand. We don’t have a strong history of research and published literature. The MLIS is only thirteen odd years old, and how many Doctoral students have we had, or have currently? If we look back through the copies of NZLIMJ we will find a small group doing the research and publishing. Surely as a burgeoning graduate profession we need to be encouraging research and literature? So yes this article should have been published and so should more. How many useful pieces of research are buried in the vaults of Victoria University read only by the author and marker? I think more student works should be published. I would like to see a piece of student research published in every NZLIMJ, and I think the top ten pieces of research could be published in a separate journal yearly.
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