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Saturday, 17 December 2016

Part 4: Academic city of villages

By Suzana Sukovic

At a time when information spurts from everywhere, numerous voices demand to be heard and traditional authorities are under scrutiny, academia occupies challenging and contested space. Particularly indicative of wider changes in the information and knowledge field are humanistic disciplines. They epitomize academic traditions in which historical resources and dialogues with the past are an essential part of academic work. Scholarship in the humanities can also act as a touchstone for and a commentary on the present.

I would like to propose that the way in which humanists negotiate the fast changing information world is based on the model I call the ‘academic city of villages’. Academics, especially in the developed countries, live in an information metropolis in which information is available in abundance and wide variety. However, academics’ everyday life is defined by norms and traditions of their disciplines which dictate the rules of their academic worlds. ‘City of villages’, a metaphor promoted by town planners of cities such as San Diego, Los Angeles, Dublin and Sydney, is used to present some of the dynamics of living in disciplinary ‘small worlds’ or ‘villages’ within an information metropolis. This proposition is based on my study of roles of electronic texts in the humanities and, later, research into transliteracy.

Small information worlds and a ‘life in the round’

Women who eat dirt for its perceived benefits, prisoners, janitors and retired women are people who live in impoverished information worlds, yet employ complex information practices. This insight arose from the work of Elfreda Chatman who developed an information theory of a ‘small world’ and a ‘life in the round’, showing how groups influence and determine information behaviour. Chatman (2000, p. 3) described the concept of a small world as ‘a world in which everyday happenings occur with some degree of predictability’. ‘A small world is also defined by natural philosophy and everyday knowledge’ (Chatman, 1999, 210). A ‘life in the round’ is a public form of life, ‘a “taken-for-granted,” “business-as-usual” style of being’ (Chatman, 1999, p. 207). Chatman showed that powerful social rules determine conditions and ways in which information is sought, what acceptable information is and what appropriate uses of information are. Individuals usually conform or keep socially unacceptable practices private.

Saying that the information behaviour of academics follow some similar patterns to those of information impoverished groups sounds far-fetched. However, findings emerging from my study of research practices of academics in the humanities show similarities, which are not obvious at face value.

Social types are central to the normative behaviour of a social group. ‘Legitimised others’ in Chatman’s theory are comparable with academic ‘big guns’ who need to be convinced that a piece of research can and should enter academic circle. A historian who studies contemporary religions, such as Jediism, Heathenism and beliefs in extraterrestrial life, many with a strong online presence, described ‘big guns’ in the following way:
… the big guns have grown up in a different kind of scholarship and they’re the ones who edit the journals and who run the big publishing houses. [It is] important that you convince them that you really can do real scholarship… It’s a kind of professional accreditation problem that people who work in really kind of out there fields are stuck with. (Participant 5/2)
Academic peers are ‘insiders’, people who are in command of norms and who judge what is trivial or useless: ‘They are the quintessential frame of reference for observing and controlling not only behavior, but also the information flow into a social world’ (Chatman, 1999, p. 212). When academics in my study talked about ‘students’, ‘young generation’, ‘traditional historians’, ‘big guns’ and ‘people who work in out-there fields’, they described academic social types that play a part in shaping information processes.

Secrecy and self-protective behaviours are part of living in a small world. Self-protective behaviour is apparent in situations when the need for information is recognised as potentially helpful, but is ignored, often because of the desire to ‘appear normal’ (Chatman, 2000, p. 7).  Scholars choose to make their information behaviours, such as the use of online sources, public or keep them private in relation to the norms, worldviews and possible reactions of their peers who have roles of ‘insiders’ and ‘legitimised others’. The dismissive attitude of peers to the use of electronic resources is evident in scholars’ public discourse, summarised in ‘all that crap from the net’ as a conversation topic as described by one of the study participants. This discourse observed in some academic circles is quite likely to make an individual researcher reluctant to ask questions that would reveal the extent of her or his own use, which may be seen as unscholarly or unauthoritative. The majority of study participants talked about an area where information about the use of electronic resources and digital methods was needed, but that information had not been sought. The lack of discussion about uncertainties related to the use of electronic resources and the unexpressed need for training are signs of an impoverished life-world. It does not relate to an absolute amount of information that has been shared, but rather to an undisclosed information need.

Living in a city of villages

Academic disciplines define the norms and practices accepted by a disciplinary community and set boundaries of academic small worlds. However, disciplines do not function as isolated environments. It is increasingly common that scholars work in interdisciplinary fields, and belong to different disciplinary communities, negotiating their different cultures, traditions and expectations. Even if they remain within the boundaries of a single discipline, they live in a dynamic information environment populated by international scholars. This vibrant environment can be seen as an information metropolis. At the same time, academics follow the rules of their immediate disciplinary communities, which form their small worlds.

How do scholars negotiate potentially contradictory demands? They usually have a primary discipline, but they seek information in other disciplines if that is the requirement of their projects. Boundary-crossing usually happens according to the rules of the primary discipline. In some cases, it means following traditional trails of academic authority. For example, a literary scholar in the study worked in a well-defined discipline where she has been a recognised expert. A sense of authority is based on knowing sources very well. However, to satisfy the requirements of a particular project, she had to leave the established information paths and seek information in neighbouring fields. The process happened according to the dominant academic tradition by following the advice of a colleague in the other field. In other words, the researcher does not normally leave her village in search of information, but when she has to do that, it happens according to the rules of following well-established academic expertise.

For other scholars, negotiation of different disciplinary rules and project demands require trade-offs. When a historian decided to write a book aiming to open a challenging dialogue with traditional scholars, he excluded references to all sources that he felt would not be acceptable to these colleagues. However, he introduced a style of writing promoted by interactions with electronic sources, which ‘pushed the edges’ of traditional scholarship.

Academics who visit blogs, tourist web sites and forums about extraterrestrials leave an academic neighbourhood to roam around the city and listen to stories in dark alleys and under bridges. Stories from the underbelly of the city are often socially unacceptable in established disciplinary clubs in university quarters. Scholars who frequent the clubs, but cross the boundaries of academia, often learn from the ‘dark stories’ and consider how to present them according to accepted disciplinary conventions. In non-traditional fields within traditional disciplines, it means more or less successful ‘dressing up’ of research, which Participant 5/2 described as a way of using disciplinary theories and citations to make unconventional research acceptable to the mainstream discipline. In more traditional literary and historical studies, it means taking unaccepted sources into account without referring to them openly.

Scholars who do cross boundaries against the rules of their discipline, would do so because information is perceived as critical or there is a perception that a ‘life in the round’ is no longer functioning. Rapid changes in academia, inconsistent systems of promotions and evaluation of scholarly work, as well as conflicting expectations, indicate that academic life is functioning with a number of difficulties. Participant 15/1 talked about experimenting ‘without an umpire’ in mind in the environment in which some peers are interested in experimental work with the multiplicity of resources while others do not think that it meets scholarly standards. According to this participant, scholars who work in new fields start within a traditional discipline and gradually split away when another community takes shape.

In a metropolis, news travel fast and it is impossible to maintain local customs untouched, but that does not negate the existence and influence of small villages. The balance between the preservation of a village life and the interaction with the metropolis — sometimes threatening, sometimes alluring – is in flux even in the most sheltered villages.

It may be that other professional worlds work in a similar way, but more research is needed to establish the evidence. However, an understanding of social processes in academia helps us to enhance our understanding of knowledge processes and wider societal changes. It helps us also to provide information and professional development services tailored with deeper understanding of our clients’ information worlds.

CHATMAN, E. A. 1999. A theory of life in the round. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 50, 207-217.

CHATMAN, E. A. 2000. Framing social life in theory and research. The New Review of Information Behaviour Research, 1, 3-17.

Previous parts in this series are available from LARK blog:

They are also availabe from SciTech Connect.

This article was first published by SciTech Connect where the following information was provided:
"Transliteracy in Complex Information Environments was published in November. If you would like to pre-order a copy, please visit the Elsevier Store.  Apply discount code STC215 at checkout for 30% off the list price and free global shipping."
The book is available in print and electronic format.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Part 3: Transliteracy palettes: developing capabilities for “moving across”

By Suzana Sukovic

A definition and conceptual model of transliteracy was proposed in the previous post in this series titled What exactly is transliteracy? (also LARK post What is transliteracy?). In short, transliteracy was described as a fluidity of movement across a range of technologies, media and contexts. The conceptual model of transliteracy was presented as an overarching concept encompassing information and ICT capabilities, communication and collaboration, and creativity and critical thinking. All these capabilities are already recognised as crucial for successful living in contemporary society. The key question concerns their co-ordinated development to enable skill and knowledge transfer in an unknown future.

A model of transliteracy palettes (above) is proposed as a tool to aid the development of transliteracy in teaching and learning. Transliteracy palettes describe what people have at their disposal to shape their transliterate practice and understanding. Two main parts of the transliteracy palettes consist of an information palette and a form palette. In order to develop the ability to move across a range of contexts, media and technologies, it is essential to practice “mixing and matching” palettes in novel combinations.

Information palette

Information and ICT capabilities have been identified as a critical part of transliteracy. These capabilities are also integrated in the well-established information literacy framework. The understanding of the information process presented in the information palette draws upon Foster’s comparison of the information process with an artist’s palette on which activities remain available during information-seeking (Foster, 2004). 

The titles of the components on the information palette capture essential information qualities and practices, especially in relation to transliteracy.
DEFINE question, information needed and main sources relates to the conscious understanding, which takes a person in a particular direction in the information process. It is based on identifying an information need. 
FIND AND ACCESS sources and relevant information captures the search process in which relevant information may be found in a range of sources. Finding the sources and relevant information is a part of the process, but so is an ability to access them. Access has been clearly identified here as it relates to the findings of my transliteracy study pointing to the significance of access conditions and understanding of social contexts surrounding information access.
EVALUATE-SELECT refers to evaluation as a well-recognised aspect of the process, but it also brings to the fore selection. Valuable information may or may not be selected for a number of reasons, which may be related to considerations other than the quality of information. Selection decisions need to be a distinct part of a holistic understanding of the process and conscious information strategy. 
MANAGE is about organising information based on content, technical and any other relevant characteristics. The word 'manage' has been chosen instead of 'organise' as it better captures potential complexity of working with information.
CREATE-PRESENT-ACT is about various forms of information use to create new information, understanding and knowledge; combine existing information for presentation purposes; and the use of information to inform decisions and action.
REFLECT is part of the process in which individuals and groups reflect on the process, ethics, norms and personal meanings. Reflection comes at the beginning of the process as people think and realise an information need, throughout the process as they decide about the next step, and at the end of the process to evaluate and understand recent experience. In educational contexts, it is important to embed reflection as a formal part of the process.
HOLISTIC UNDERSTANDING of the process ¬is indicated by the idea of the palette rather than individual colours. It emphasises the importance of understanding the information process and its components as a whole.

Form palette 

This palette captures ‘forms’ that shape interactions with information. 
EXPERIENCE is about opportunities to act, sense and think through a range of different experiences such as writing a story, performing, reading and working visually.
MEDIA relates to the use of different media formats (for example, book, video, database).
COMMUNICATION is about using different forms of communication through different channels in a variety of genres, languages and for different audiences.
COLLABORATION is about working with others formally and informally face-to-face, online and in blended environments. 
CITIZENSHIP refers to understanding of a range of social issues, which determine successful participation in information environments. It includes legal, normative, cultural and ethical issues. Copyright, plagiarism and appropriate online behaviour as they are commonly taught in educational settings are part of this 'form'.

The transliteracy palette consists of both information and form palettes, and an ability to mix them in many different combinations. Learning to apply different colours to many different forms in a range of different situations is a way to develop transliteracy. 

FOSTER, A. 2004. A nonlinear model of information-seeking behavior. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 55, 228-237.

These explanations of the transliteracy palette are taken from the chapter Transliteracy in practice in the book Transliteracy in complex information environments. The chapter is available for free download, providing further discussions about implementation transliteracy in the practice of teaching and learning.

Previous posts are available from Elsevier SciTech Connect and LARK blog:
Part 1. Transliteracy: the art and craft of moving across 
Part 2. What is transliteracy? 

This article was first published by SciTech Connect

Monday, 7 November 2016

Enough with the Shhhhh!

#EBLIPRG November
Enough with the Shhhhh! - Journal Discussion on Twitter
By Fiona Macdonald

Our EBLIP reading group is continuing to meet every second month on Twitter to discuss articles which support an evidence-based approach to Library issues.

In November the reading is:
McCaffrey, C. & Breen, M. (2016). Quiet in the Library: An Evidence-Based Approach to Improving the Student Experience. portal: Libraries and the Academy 16(4), 775-791. 

Student feedback to academic libraries consistently and increasingly indicate conflicting desires: more quiet space, more collaborative space, makerspace, silent study, more interactive or social space. There are increasing expectations of all of the above, and libraries usually have to manage on the same footprint. So what do Libraries do in terms of noise management? And what works?

Join us on Twitter #EBLIPRG and discuss:
Actual noise v’s perceived noise
Do signs work?
Impact of furniture and design
From intractable to manageable – what works

WHEN? Thursday 24th November 4 pm AEST (Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne) on Twitter #EBLIPRG 
Facilitated by Fionamac @macdonaldf

Image above:

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Eat, drink & plan

By Suzana Sukovic

​This is the last event of the year. We'll celebrate the end of a successful year and plan where we want to take LARK in 2017. From UTS, we'll connect online with colleagues in Adelaide who plan to start a LARK chapter in South Australia. LARKs from other Australian cities, or even around the world, are most welcome to join us. 
After the meeting, people in Sydney will honour tradition and go out for dinner. It would be great if other groups want to do the same. We could exchange pictures later.
If you want to join this meeting either in person or online, please send a message to with your contact details
Looking forward to your responses!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

My journey from practitioner to researcher to published author

By Edward Luca
Sign from Luca's & Narayan's article
I started working in an academic library three years ago. At the time, I was completing my Bachelor’s degree in library and information science. The job was not as a librarian, but rather a communication officer. If you were to take the position description at face value, you could quite easily find a marketing person to write some copy and talk to other marketing people around the university. But, I was training to be a librarian and the job got me working in a library, so I was pretty pleased about it.

As I walked around my new work environment, I became increasingly interested in the experience of being in the physical library. I’ve rarely, if ever, had a truly great library interaction online. The physical space brings focus, it inspires, and it welcomes anyone and everyone. And yet it was covered in pieces of paper, with words that don’t mean anything to the average person. All these rules and instructions, which made me feel like I was in the wrong for not understanding them.

Through my LIS studies I had been exposed to the principles of Human-Centred Design, User Experience Design and Design Thinking. Don Norman, a big name in this space, writes that design needs to put human needs, capabilities and behaviour first. The process of design starts and ends with the users.

There seemed to be a chasm between this research I had studied, and what was actually happening in the library; I’ve found this disconnect to be true of LIS research and practice in general. This was certainly true of the signage in the library, and my in-house project to fix the library signage has now evolved into a peer-reviewed journal article. So how did I get here?

One of my favourite observations in Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches' wonderful book Useful, Usable, Desirable: Applying User Experience Design to Your Library, is that often as librarians we’ll put up a paper sign when something isn’t working well. Instead, they argue, we should aim to address the core issue which will both improve the visual environment and make the library more pleasant to use. But how do we know when something isn’t working well, and more importantly, how can we fix it? Based on the literature, I decided to use the Design Thinking approach to solve the issue. What’s so valuable about the Design Thinking approach is that it’s not just for designers; it can be used for absolutely any product or service.The library is a tremendously complex user environment, with so many different systems and processes all talking to each other. And this confusion is evident in our users! I think that anything we can do to better understand our users is a vital for a librarian, but this sort of user research is not something that we often have time for in our busy schedules.

While working through this project, I began to realise that the problems I was attempted to solve were not problems unique to our library. In fact, they seem to happen everywhere! So many libraries are covered in paper signs, have troublesome printers, hard to find rooms, or awkward checkout machines. While the size of the collection, design of the building, and range of services on offer may vary from library to library, the fundamental issues that we are trying to solve are very similar. 

As I was executing the project, I thought that perhaps there was a value to documenting our process, so that other libraries could learn from our experiences and take advantage of some of the lessons we had learned along the way. I didn’t know how to go about this. Fortunately, an LIS academic at the university had noticed our signage work and approached me with the prospect of writing a journal article about the project. I was surprised to find out that many LIS academics are on the lookout for library practitioners to collaborate with.

This was such an exciting opportunity for me, and as I thought about how an article might be structured, I began to realise that in producing the new signs I had drawn upon so much knowledge gained from my degree - ideas about user experience design, information design, observations, interviews, and even slightly tangential things like visual communication and creative writing. Not only were we able to draw upon these theoretical frameworks, but we were also able to use practice-based evidence through our own findings and experiences at the library. The research literature gives us some guidance, but we needed to validate these findings with support and evidence from our own users. 

This was also a mutually beneficial process. My academic co-author was able to conduct some practice-based research, and I received academic guidance about how to structure the project into an article with a clear conceptual framework and methodology, as I had never written a journal article before. 

This project has had a significant impact on my own practice of librarianship, while it’s also given me a much clearer idea of some of the challenges facing academics in the writing process. My co-author and I are both huge open access advocates, so the decision to look for an open access journal to publish in was an easy one. We only sent in a proposal and not the whole article, and the immediate response was very encouraging, so we decided to write it, after all.

The actual writing was the easiest bit; the work had been done. Manipulating it into a piece of writing that would be of value to any library, whilst also foregrounding the research, was much harder. What surprised me was how much time we spent considering the article conceptually. We had a clearly defined project with a successful outcome, but many afternoons were spent thinking about the conceptual framework and structure of the paper.

Feedback provided during the peer-review process was especially helpful here. For example, in our first version of the work, we’d spent more time on the specific details of our case study. After the first round of peer-reviews, we needed to reorient the work to focus on the overall process/method, which makes a much more valuable contribution to the research literature as it provides a methodology which can be applied at other libraries. The whole process from start to publication took us about six months of working together wherein we put in a total of about 40-50 hours overall, writing together and in turns.

And the day it was published? There was this huge sense of accomplishment that’s hard to describe! 

I am still very surprised by the huge positive reaction to the work. We tweeted about the article and sent it out to our networks, but were very soon seeing it picked up by staff at other academic libraries and around the world, and even by design thinking researchers, some of whom want to translate it to French. This immediate reaction is gratifying for an author, and being open access, the article is immediately readable by anyone who stumbles across it. This was also an opportunity to put into practice much of the publication literacy that librarians are engaged in: ensuring an appropriate copy is made available in the institutional repository, adding it to our researcher profiles (e.g. ORCID) and using social media for promotion. I feel that making my academic publishing debut, and already understanding these practices, will stand me in good stead for future works. 

The article was only really possible through collaboration between an academic and a library practitioner. Libraries have always been required to evolve and adapt to changing user needs. Though we certainly have a host of new issues in today’s landscape, many of these remain under-researched. It is essential that library professionals work with trained researchers from universities and elsewhere to create a body of evidence that can support contemporary needs in the profession. This experience has convinced me that LIS needs much more of this sort of collaborative research; evidence-based practice creating practice-led evidence through a conceptual research framework.

Luca, E, Narayan, B 2016, Signage by design: a design-thinking approach to library user experience, Weave: Journal of Library User Experience, 3 (5), DOI:

Edward Luca (AALIA) is Communication Officer at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Library, Australia

Dr Bhuva Narayan (AALIA) is Senior Lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australia

Thursday, 13 October 2016

What happened in the LARKMeet, 11 October

By Suzana Sukovic

"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."

(Anonymous; attributed to Einstein)

This clever observation was one of many interesting points raised in Liz Walkley Hall's presentation Working as a practitioner researcher: view from the frontline. If you missed the meeting (see details), here are the slides with Liz's talk . ( BTW, the sound quality improves after a couple of minutes. A brief conversation about the sound is in the recording for your authentic experience.)

After Liz's thought-provoking presentation, we discussed our experiences of doing research in practice. Here are notes with some pointers how to support practice-based research. 

Research mindset
  • Importance of developing research mindset or a ‘habit of the mind’. Peer support is critical and may not mean that everyone in organisation is doing research, but it is important that peers understand and support the research mindset
  • Groups like LARK are important in establishing peer support
  • Liz’s research show that a ‘habit of the mind’ means stepping away from the problem at hand and asking, ‘What evidence am I using to support my decision?’
  • Benefits – enhanced and reflective practice
What is helpful?
  • Connections 
o between different projects as they evolve from a particular interest and theme
o between work and studying at university
-enables tapping into different sorts of expertise
- access to people whose opinions and experience can help you without a need to look for them
- not having to divide a head space between work and study
o doing research on work-related topics – maximising opportunities if research is tied up with work outcomes; sharing with the profession; learning at conferences

Careers and publishing
  • Research usually not on job descriptions (a recent exception of the University of Southern Queensland mentioned) 
  • Publications add to being a stronger candidate, at least in academic libraries
  • In some organisations publications seen as unnecessary; no evidence of benefits of publications to LIS careers
  • A wish to publish and present finished research expressed
  • Starting with a peer-reviewed paper
o Collaboration
Writing with an experienced author helps; people who haven’t published before can contribute valuable ideas
Writing with a peer group

o Peer-review process  
Articles turn out better after peer-reviewing
Internal reviewing with peers helps
Valuable to have someone who can interpret peer reviewers’ comments, help to apply them or explain why they haven’t been accepted – learning to deal with the whole culture around publishing
Important to step back and consider comments from a distance

We could certainly keep going as one hour passed very quickly. All of us who were there are willing to meet again and continue conversations.

Thanks to everyone who participated in discussions and to our silent audience as they made time to be with us. Special thanks to Liz for her interesting presentation and to Alycia Bailey for looking after slides and technology.

Friday, 7 October 2016

LARKMeet online 11 October

Hopefully, you've been inspired by Virginia Wilson's recent post about Canadian experience with LIS research and evidence based practice. In the next LARK Meet online, we'd like to connect inspiration and your good ideas with practice. The main presentation will be by Liz Walkley Hall, an experienced practice-based researcher followed by questions and disucussions.

Working as a practitioner-researcher: a view from the frontline

Presented by Liz Walkley Hall, Flinders University Library

Librarians who combine research with practice - practitioner-researchers - face many challenges. However this is outweighed by the opportunities research can bring to practice, including bringing an evidence base to our decision-making, as well as firsthand experience of the research process which can be invaluable in the academic library context.

In this presentation, Liz will explore how we can all incorporate research into our practice as librarians, offering some tips and tricks that she has learnt.

Please join us for what is planned to be an interactive, exploratory session - bring your questions and comments !

WHEN: Tue, Oct 11, 2016 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM (Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne)

Please join this meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone. 

You can also dial in using your phone. 
United States +1 (872) 240-3412 
Access Code: 997-699-789 

Liz Walkley Hall is the Open Scholarship Librarian at Flinders University and an active practitioner-researcher. She is also the Chair of the Library's Research Working Group. In this role, she supports librarians to undertake their own research projects. Over the past six years, the group has published or presented more than 20 papers, from usability studies to library-community engagement. Liz's own research interests include knowledge management, organisational change, workplace learning, and research skills for librarians.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice: One Canadian Answer to Research and EBLIP Support

By Virginia Wilson 

At the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, librarians are faculty members. This means that we are responsible for the practice of professional skills, service, and research. In fact, we are required to conduct and disseminate research to achieve tenure and promotion. You might think that the mandate to conduct research would mean that doing so is seamless and easy. Not so! I know that from my own experiences as a librarian who was hired on the tenure track and who went through the tenure and promotion processes that there are common barriers to conducting research. I probably suffered through all of them. There are challenges like protecting the time we have to actually do the research; thinking about research as part of the role of a librarian rather than merely an add-on to the “real job”; dealing with financial concerns – will my professional fund allow me to hire a student and go to that crucial conference?; and feeling a self-perceived lack of research skills.

After making my way through the tenure and promotion process with the help of mentors and peer support, and working for a library Dean who strongly believed in implementing a culture of research at our library, I took the lead on the development and implementation of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, or C-EBLIP. C-EBLIP’s mandate is to support librarians as researchers and to promote evidence based library and information practice. C-EBLIP is dedicated to raising the profile of librarians as researchers on campus and beyond; enhancing the University Library’s national and international reputation as a research organization; developing peer mentoring relationships to augment research and evidence based library and information practice; and sustaining established activities such as the Dean's Research Lecture Series and the Researcher-in- Residence Program. The formal application to establish the centre had to make its way through the University governance system, culminating in approval by the University Council. University Council is responsible for overseeing and directing the U of S’s academic affairs.

C-EBLIP was launched in July 2013 at the 7 th International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice conference which was held at the U of S. In the past three years, C-EBLIP has sponsored a number of activities designed to support our own librarians – workshops, a journal club, a writing circle, a code club, a blog, and more. But at the same time, as Director, I’ve always thought about the necessity and the benefits of facing outward and of connecting with others doing the same kind of work. Across Canada, not all academic libraries have the same requirements for research amongst their librarians. The terminology varies for things like tenure, faculty status, and the like. And more expansively, around the world it varies greatly as to whether or not librarians are required to conduct research for career advancement. However, whether or not it is a requirement, librarians are conducting research. They do so to enhance practice, to continue to develop professionally, and to contribute to the profession of librarianship. I wanted C-EBLIP to facilitate a connection with other librarians doing research and/or interested in evidence based practice.

One of the ways to do this was to organize an event. In 2014, the first annual C-EBLIP Fall Symposium: Librarians as Researchers was held at the U of S. Approximately 54 librarians from across Canada (and one from the United States) and from across library sectors attended this free, one-day symposium that included a keynote speaker, a single track of sessions, and really, a lot of food. In 2015, 62 librarians attended and we added a pre-symposium workshop included in the free registration. Currently, registration is in full swing for the 2016 edition of the C-EBLIP Fall Symposium and we’ve added a networking breakfast into the mix. From the start, post-symposium feedback has been exceptional, with one of the highlights for many librarians being the chance to network and connect with other librarians in the context of our work as researchers.

It’s been fantastic working with librarians at the U of S and connecting with librarians nationally at the C-EBLIP Fall Symposium. But why stop there? Spring 2016 saw the launch of the C-EBLIP Research Network, an international affiliation of institutions that support librarians as researchers and/or are interested in evidence based library and information practice. And while the membership is institutional (libraries, research groups, etc.) the research network is truly for librarians. There is a nominal institutional membership fee each calendar year (starting January 2017) and all funds being rolled back into the C-EBLIP Research Network to provide two online learning opportunities per year as well as research grants if funds allow.

As of this writing, there are currently 19 institutional members belonging to the C-EBLIP Research Network – members from Canada, Australia (including LARK, Flinders University Library, and the library at the University of Southern Queensland), the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and the United States. The remainder of 2016 continues to be a building time with full C-EBLIP Research Network activities ramping up in 2017. All of the details about the C-EBLIP Research Network and how to join can be found hereThere’s also a continually updated list of current members. Networking on a global scale is filled with possibilities for communication, collaboration, knowledge sharing, and learning, which in turn can enhance research and practice. C-EBLIP is very keen to connect with more institutions and more librarians. Join us!

Virginia Wilson is Director, Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice at the University Library, University of Saskatchewan

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

#EBLIPRG 29 Sep Journal Clubs

By Megan Fitzgibbons

Our next discussion will focus on a recent study on the impact of participation in journal clubs--a topic that's close to home for #EBLIPRG participants!

#EBLIPRG Journal club impacts
Facilitated by Megan Fitzgibbons

The reading is:
Fitzgibbons, M., Kloda, L., & Miller-Nesbitt, A. (2016). Exploring the value of academic librarians' participation in journal clubs. College & Research Libraries, crl16-965.

Join in and discuss:
  • Why do journal clubs matter?
  • Findings on individual and organisational benefits
  • Methodology: can this qualitative approach be applied elsewhere?
  • Sharing experiences and tips on participating in professional journal clubs or reading groups

WHEN? Thursday, 29 September 8 pm AEST (Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne) on Twitter #EBLIPRG

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Two LARK events for your calendar

By Suzana Sukovic

Hard to believe, but it is already time to put the last LARK events this year in your calendar:
LARKMeet - 11 October 8 pm ONLINE

Eat, drink and plan - 1 December 6 pm face-to-face in Sydney and online

Our first online meeting was in June. We enjoyed our regular combination of interesting presentations and a chat, this time online. We even had our first international presenter- Sally Pewhairangi (@sallyheroes) from New Zealand.

On Tuesday, 11 October we will repeat this format hoping to have a variety of presentations and some discussions. We already know that we are spreading outside Sydney. Our first confirmed presenter is from South Australia. If you are interested in telling us about your research project, please fill in this form by Tuesday, 4 October.

Our last meeting in 2016 will be on Thursday, 1 December at 6 pm. We’ll meet in Sydney (place TBA) to eat, drink and plan for 2017, exactly as we announced at the beginning of the year. The change of plan is that we will have people joining us remotely. Liz Walkley Hall is interested in starting a LARK chapter in Adelaide and would like to join our planning meeting via Skype. Other people who live outside Sydney and would like to participate in planning are most welcome to join us. If you would like to join this meeting remotely, please get in touch by email or just complete the contact form on this blog.

Looking forward to hearing from "old" and new LARKs.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Part 2: What is transliteracy?

By Suzana Sukovic

Transliteracy as a concept originated in the work of academics who were involved in digital building and tinkering, people who got their hands dirty with some practical work while thinking theoretically (see Transliteracies Project and Transliteracy Research Group Archive). And that is the essence of transliteracy – it is an abstract idea, but also an embodied practice and sensory experience. Transliteracy is neither an idea nor a practice: it is both. It is hardly surprising that librarians at the coalface of information and digital work embraced the concept as they recognised it in their everyday work with information, knowledge and technology.

But what is it exactly? A short answer is that transliteracy is about a fluidity of movement across a range of technologies, media and contexts.
A longer answer is more layered as it is based on a careful analysis of research data:

Transliteracy is an ability to use diverse analogue and digital technologies, techniques, modes and protocols
•    to search for and work with a variety of resources
•    to collaborate and participate in social networks
•    to communicate meanings and new knowledge by using different tones, genres, modalities and media.
Transliteracy consists of skills, knowledge, thinking and acting, which enable a fluid ‘movement across’ in a way that is defined by situational, social, cultural and technological contexts.

A study into transliteracy on which this definition is based provides plentiful examples of transliterate behaviours. A historian presents research data on a website for community use, responds to online queries about family connections, puts people from the community in touch with each other and notes their experience for research purposes. An academic studies parks as public spaces and uses GPS, digital and hard-copy maps, hand drawings made by park visitors, audio-recordings and then publishes reports, brochures, academic journal articles and a website with multimedia.  A teenager explores a known fictional text by taking a perspective of an inanimate object or a minor character and expresses her creative reading in a digital story. High school students and scholars alike use resources in analogue and digital forms, create new content, and collaborate and communicate in a variety of modes.

As any educator would have noticed, there are a number of skill sets and capabilities packed in the definition and examples. We can represent transliteracy conceptually with different capabilities as its main components.

Conceptual model of transliteracy (Sukovic, S. 2016, Transliteracy in complex information environments, Chandos

Transliteracy comes to the fore in information and technology rich environments, so it is based on information and ICT capabilities. It also encompasses creativity, critical thinking, and communication and collaboration. These are the main skill and knowledge components of transliteracy. These defining components are not situated wholly in the transliteracy framework as they can be observed regardless of transliteracy. Literacy and numeracy underpin transliteracy in the same way they enable any learning.

In order to understand and appreciate transliteracy, it is helpful to understand 'ICT' as a label for analogue and digital information and communication technologies, and their many combinations. ‘ICT’ often refers to digital technologies. However, the book, and traditional radio and television are also technologies designed to carry information and facilitate communication. As the line between different types of technologies becomes increasingly blurry, familiar technologies become a thing of the past and old technologies undergo a revival, any technology that helps us to transmit information and communicate is relevant to transliteracy.

Transliteracy existed well before digital technologies, but contemporary ways of interacting with information and digital tools sped up, broadened and changed our daily ‘movement across’ information and technological fields. As technologies, skills and contexts in which we live and work are constantly changing, transliteracy becomes a literacy of the modern era. It is integrative in a sense that it doesn’t want to replace other useful ways of thinking about information and technology. Rather, it provides an integrative framework for bringing together modern literacies (e.g. information, digital, media literacy). It also provides a framework for connecting rational-emotional, analytical-creative and theoretical-practical ways of thinking and working, which enable us to live effectively and creatively with abundant information around us.

The next post in this series will introduce transliteracy palettes and consider the development of transliteracy in formal and informal learning environments.

See Part 1: Transliteracy: the art and craft of ‘moving across’ - LARK blog and SciTech Connect

Transliteracy in Complex Information Environments is scheduled to publish in November. If you would like to pre-order a copy, please visit the Elsevier Store.  Apply discount code STC215 at checkout for 30% off the list price and free global shipping.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Brian Cox, #Census2016 and Naplan

By Suzana Sukovic

Last night on Q&A Brian Cox said exactly what librarians have been saying for years, but it echoes much better coming from him. Tony Jones started by quoting Cox: “Changing your mind in the face of evidence is absolutely essential to the civilised democratic society” and continued, “The questioner is asking, ‘Who should we listen to?’”

Cox’s full response could be found here (section starts at 41:58), and (again) this is the gist of his answer:

What do we need for democracies to work?
…An education system that functions extremely well. You need a population for a democracy to work that is aware of how to think, how to select information. We have a vast amount of information available to us, some from reputable sources, some from unreputable sources. So those skills to allow your population to look at the information that’s out there to be able to come to a reasoned conclusion…to be able to get a sense of where the expertise lies, where the considered views are .
Share this quote, dear library and information people. Make it visible! It is important. Nothing less than the future of democracy is at stake.

The Census has been a good reminder recently.


Twitter has covered #Census2016 and #CensusFail thoroughly. After so much that has been said, right now I am more interested in what we as citizens and individuals need to know to make decisions and contribute to current conversations in an informed way. So, here is my non-exhaustive list of issues:
•    Participation in Census: What is it? How should we complete the Census? Should we do it online or use a paper form?
•    Privacy: What are my entitlements and duties? Should I protect my privacy? How? How do different technologies and government processes affect my privacy? What are the legal and personal implications of my decisions?
•    Use of technology: How do computer security and hacking work? How is data linked?
•    Social media: Should I participate in online discussions? Why? How?
•    Society: Why do groups of people decide to hack? How is this Census affecting our knowledge about who we are as the society?

And the list goes on…

In understanding these issues and making decisions, it is crucial to be able to think critically. A good understanding of and skills to deal with information, technology, and issues of citizenship is necessary to make decisions that may have far-reaching consequences.


Similarly to the Census, NAPLAN discussions can be a big ask for someone who skim reads the paper. Explanations of why Australian students are not advancing as we would like range from funding issues and selection of students for teaching courses all the way to the influence of technology or diverse ethnicities of the Australian population (see also an old but still relevant post about international test results). Whatever factors may be at play, it is sure that numeracy and literacy are quite complex and teachers are certainly not the only people responsible for their development. Last week, for example, we heard about research, which points towards a positive link between playing computer games and academic results, including science, math and reading. Alberto Posso, from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, reportedly said,

When you play online games you’re solving puzzles to move to the next level and that involves using some of the general knowledge and skills in maths, reading and science that you’ve been taught during the day (see Guardian article).
Gaming is not an isolated example of a possible influence on test results. Some of the reasons for achievements in mathematics may be that the student is an avid reader who enjoys classics or a keen musician. Research shows that both music and reading, especially of complex fictional texts, have significant influence on improving cognitive abilities. The most important questions about NAPLAN results, in my mind, concern the complexity of learning and development rather than the narrow focus on Math and English classes. 


Transliteracy is all over these news stories with significant implications for education. Transliteracy is a framework that combines information and ICT capabilities with citizenship, creativity and critical thinking to prepare our students for a life in a fast-changing and information-rich society. It develops students’ capacity to apply their knowledge and skills in different situations, by using digital and analogue media and technologies, and to communicate with different audiences. And who is in a better position to work with information across the board than your knowledgeable and friendly librarian?

ALIA has recently pointed towards studies showing that we need more school librarians. Developing transliteracy at school means supporting students’ ability to think critically and creatively in life situations and jobs we don’t know today. A transliterate student needs to develop their numeracy and literacy in many different ways across all their subjects. S/he will be able to decide how to contribute to any future Census, to assess government decisions, and participate in public and private conversations about societal issue in an informed way. None of their teachers knows the issues she will face and cannot teach her answers she will learn by heart. S/he will, however, gain the skills to be an independent learner and thinker because school librarians will know how to work with teachers to develop essential skills in a systematic way.

Learning doesn’t finish when we get school diploma or a professional qualification. Library and information professionals in various settings are best life-long learning guides. We need more of them.

As Cox said, “Changing your mind in the face of evidence is absolutely essential to the civilised democratic society”. We need to serve the quote regularly with a good dose of fresh evidence.

Parts of this article were previously published in the Bulletin of St'Vincent's College, Potts Point where Suzana works as Head of the Learning Resource Centre.