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Monday, September 22, 2014

Evidence Based Practice

This is a reflection as part of my Sydney Study Visit.

The quote “Statistics are your fundamental accountability” by Kate Burnham at the ABC Sound and Reference Library resonated with me.

With the change in business processes being the driver for change in many libraries, it seems logical that evidence based practice must become a mantra for the 21st Century Teacher Librarian.

Quote from SLJ article, Made with

Measurement tools based on borrowings of resources are no longer reliable indicators of success like they used to be. Our students use the resources we provide for them differently and they also access our library spaces differently. From the data that I have kept of my Year 8 Wider Reading groups, I can see that what students are reading at school is often totally different to what they are reading at home.

The presentation at Santa Sabina College was an excellent example of a school library driving change through evidenced based practice.  The Teacher Librarian team was continually measuring to provide quantitative feedback on their programs, rather than relying on “gut feeling” that their initiatives were making a difference. Helen Schutz has 8 years worth of evidence to show to anyone who dared question the existence of a library faculty within the school. From an increase in recreational reading to increased awareness of scholarly research, her team was continually involved in an Action Research project rather than the reactive way in which, for example, SCEGGS was supporting research and information literacy.

For a traditional library such as the State Library of NSW, their evidence-based indicators are a bit different. As a non-lending reference library, their indicators were increased engagement, increased use of their electronic resources and increased booking of Learning Services; such as the Drug Information Librarian and the “onsite” facility that they offered regional schools.

UNSW maintains a Research Impact Measurement Service and they have a strong vision for the role of the library in a learning organisation as being one of exemplary practice. To the staff at UNSW, their job is to lead the way and each librarian is encouraged to participate in a personal action research project as part of their personal professional development plan.

For the ABC Sound and Reference Library their evidence was whether the needs of their producers were met.  Many of the like-to projects such as digitisation of the collection are not on the radar as their focus is fast, accurate and timely information provision. If the initiative doesn’t support this key business goal, then it won’t be implemented. A stark contrast to the State Library where digitization of non-electronic resources will likely drive accessibility to resources through their web site and social media presence.

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