The role of research in public libraries.The traditional ways in which library research has been undertaken and the predominantly pre·dom·i·nant
1. Having greatest ascendancy, importance, influence, authority, or force. See Synonyms at dominant.
2. quantitative approach of the library survey are discussed. Recent trends to using qualitative or interpretivist approaches to research, or of using mixed methods, are explored together with examples of recent research projects in public libraries in Australia. A mind stretching, but realistic scenario of the possibilities of public library research is examined. Edited version of a paper given at the Alia national public libraries conference Melbourne November 2001
This paper has a number of themes and purposes. First, it discusses the traditional ways in which library research has been undertaken. Secondly, it aims to show how some recent research in public libraries in Australia has differed from this approach and how it has contributed to public library service. Thirdly, it aims to paint a mind stretching, but realistic, scenario of the possibilities of public library research, especially through collaborations between academics, or other skilled researchers, and reflective practitioners.
The traditional approach to library research
Research in libraries, as in other organisations, has tended to be quantitative in its approach. For example, in attempting to understand needs of library users, and levels of satisfaction with library services, researchers have mostly depended on the survey method, using self administered questionnaires. While many people who have undertaken surveys may have been unfamiliar with the theoretical basis of their research there is a well developed philosophy, termed `positivist', which underpins the typical library survey. Another research method, which comes under the `positivist' umbrella is `experimental design'. Positivist pos·i·tiv·ism
a. A doctrine contending that sense perceptions are the only admissible basis of human knowledge and precise thought.
b. researchers believe that the social sciences should be investigated in the same way as the natural sciences. (1) They consider that knowledge can only be based on what can be objectively observed and measured. The reasoning style they use is deductive de·duc·tive
1. Of or based on deduction.
2. Involving or using deduction in reasoning.
de·duc . As part of the research process, variables are defined, hypotheses are developed and tested, and the data collected are mainly quantitative. There are many instances in the library literature of quantitative research Quantitative research
Use of advanced econometric and mathematical valuation models to identify the firms with the best possible prospectives. Antithesis of qualitative research. , not always in truly positivist style because of the lack of rigour rig·our
n. Chiefly British
Variant of rigor.
rigour or US rigor
1. that a purist pur·ist
One who practices or urges strict correctness, especially in the use of words.
pu·ristic adj. would require. Examples are Goombridge (2) Handfield and Hamilton Smith (3) Goldhor (4) Williamson (5) Grosser and Bagnell (6) Report on a survey (7) Tanner The code name for the Xeon version of the Pentium III chip. See Xeon. (8) Flowers (9) Navigating (networking, hypertext) navigating - Finding your way around. Often used of the Internet, particularly the World-Wide Web.
A browser is a tool for navigating hypertext documents. the economy of knowledge. (10) Nonlibrary users are included in most of these surveys, as well as users. One survey (Flowers) focused on nonusers only. A very important relationship, which emerged from the earlier studies, was between education and library use eg Goombridge. Occupation was also found to be significant in library use (Goldhor). Handfield and Hamilton-Smith's Libraries and people of Melbourne confirmed the overseas findings on the importance of education and occupation.
Recent research trends
Recent research trends have seen qualitative approaches gain much more popularity. The umbrella term A term used to cover a broad category of functions rather than one specific item. In many cases, a term is so catchy that it tends to be used for technologies that are a stretch from the original concept. See middleware and virtualization. , which is used for qualitative research Qualitative research
Traditional analysis of firm-specific prospects for future earnings. It may be based on data collected by the analysts, there is no formal quantitative framework used to generate projections. methods, is `interpretivist' although, as with quantitative research, not all qualitative researchers are aware of the philosophical underpinnings of their work. Researchers who are interpretivists favour naturalistic nat·u·ral·is·tic
1. Imitating or producing the effect or appearance of nature.
2. Of or in accordance with the doctrines of naturalism. enquiry, where fieldwork field·work
1. A temporary military fortification erected in the field.
2. Work done or firsthand observations made in the field as opposed to that done or observed in a controlled environment.
3. usually takes place in the `natural setting', and is concerned with `meaning'. They believe that the social world is interpreted or constructed by people and is therefore different from the world of nature. The central tenet TENET. Which he holds. There are two ways of stating the tenure in an action of waste. The averment is either in the tenet and the tenuit; it has a reference to the time of the waste done, and not to the time of bringing the action.
2. of interpretivism is that people are constantly involved in interpreting their ever changing world. They develop meanings for their activities together ie they socially construct reality, as analysed in the famous book The social construction of reality. (11) They also make sense of their world on an individual basis ie they develop their own meanings, which often differ from one person to another and may conflict. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , they personally construct reality, as postulated pos·tu·late
tr.v. pos·tu·lat·ed, pos·tu·lat·ing, pos·tu·lates
1. To make claim for; demand.
2. To assume or assert the truth, reality, or necessity of, especially as a basis of an argument.
3. by Kelly. (12) This latter process is encapsulated encapsulated Localized Oncology adjective Confined to a specific area, surrounded by a thin layer of fibrous tissue; encapsulation generally refers to a tumor confined to a specific area, surrounded by a capsule. See Islet encapsulation. in Dervin's `sense making' theory, which has had a major impact in the information management field. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Dervin (13) people are constantly involved in making sense of, or interpreting, their world. The use of interpretivist approaches to research also encourages an emphasis on users and their needs, as opposed to the tendency of earlier quantitative research to focus on systems and what they can offer. (14)
There is also theory which supports a combination of approaches. According to Giddens, culture comprises both objective and subjective perspectives and the kinds of knowledge implied by both.
If interpretative sociologies are founded, as it were, upon the imperialism of the subject, functionalism and structuralism propose an imperialism of the social object. One of my principal ambitions in the formulation of structuration theory is to put an end to each of these empire building endeavours (15)
In the process of transmission and transformation of culture, the subjective consists in the meanings that are held and communicated by individuals and groups. The objective consists in `social practices ordered across time and space'.
In practical terms, a combination of research approaches, focusing on the subjective and the objective, can result in optimal results. The starting point Noun 1. starting point - earliest limiting point
terminus a quo
commencement, get-go, offset, outset, showtime, starting time, beginning, start, kickoff, first - the time at which something is supposed to begin; "they got an early start"; "she knew from the is to match research questions to method. Straight forward factual information eg `what', `who' `how many', `how much', `where', `when' information can be measured at a particular point in time and is suited to quantitative research. One must caution, however, with the old adage `Lies, damned lies and statistics'. For example, the number of people registered as members of a particular public library service can be reliably ascertained as·cer·tain
tr.v. as·cer·tained, as·cer·tain·ing, as·cer·tains
1. To discover with certainty, as through examination or experimentation. See Synonyms at discover.
2. , assuming a clear definition of `registration', on a particular day of a specific year. On the other hand, complex questions which involve `why' and `how' lend themselves to qualitative exploration.
An example would be the question of how members of certain community groups who are frequently nonusers of the public library, can be attracted to become users. Any situation which requires understanding in depth is well suited to a qualitative approach. A research project will often involve questions of both types and will therefore benefit from combined quantitative/ qualitative approaches.
Examples of recent public library research
The research group, Information and Telecommunications Communicating information, including data, text, pictures, voice and video over long distance. See communications. Needs Research (ITNR), has been involved in two public library projects, which have been basically interpretivist in their approach, but have used mixed research methods. These projects, and another which has started, are described below.
Online services for people with disabilities in Australian public libraries *
The objectives of this project were
* the selection of a core set of adaptive equipment Adaptive equipment are devices that are used to assist with completing activities of daily living.
Bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and feeding are self-care activities that are including in the spectrum of activities of daily living (ADLs). , suited to people with a range of different disabilities for use in public settings, particularly in public libraries
* the development of related training for users and librarians alike
* the identification of standards and policies for achieving appropriate levels of online public access by disability groups.
The State Library of Victoria (SLV SLV
standard launch vehicle )/Vicnet were collaborators with ITNR for this project and nine public libraries were involved. Eight were from Victoria. The ninth, the Wagga Wagga Wagga Wagga (wŏg`ə wŏg`ə), city (1991 pop. 40,875), New South Wales, SE Australia, on the Murrumbidgee River. It is the center of an agricultural district with food-processing and rubber-goods plants and foundries. Library, is the headquarters of the Riverina Regional Library. The latter was included because of the involvement of Charles Sturt University Charles Sturt University (CSU) is an Australian multi-campus university in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. It has campuses at Bathurst, Albury-Wodonga, Dubbo, Orange and Wagga Wagga. (CSU See DSU/CSU.
1. CSU - California State University.
2. CSU - Cleveland State University.
3. CSU - Channel Service Unit. ) in ITNR which is now a joint venture of CSU and Monash University Facilities in are diverse and vary in services offered. Information on residential sevices at Monash University, including on-campus (MRS managed) and off-campus, can be found at  Student organisations . The selection of Victorian libraries was based on the requirement to include a range of different public library types and a mix of socioeconomic so·ci·o·ec·o·nom·ic
Of or involving both social and economic factors.
of or involving economic and social factors
Adj. 1. , rural and urban areas. Participants were found mainly through community organisations, particularly those which work with people with disabilities.
There were two major stages to the data collections. The first involved the evaluation of a range of equipment considered suitable for public settings; the second stage saw the development of training focusing on the equipment we had decided to recommend as a result of the evaluation stage. The first 50 participants, with a range of disabilities, were all involved in the evaluation of equipment and software phase of the project. The remaining 35 participants with disabilities trialled various training activities so that we could see how well they worked. In addition, we involved 17 librarians in three focus groups, conducted in two different library services, in the training phase. Apart from the exploration of views about training, in general, we also trialed the Opera browser browser
Software that allows a computer user to find and view information on the Internet. The first text-based browser for the World Wide Web became available in 1991; Web use expanded rapidly after the release in 1993 of a browser called Mosaic, which used with public librarians.
An interpretivist/constructivist approach was well suited to this project because there was a specific human context to be explored, where a range of different meanings and needs had to be understood and negotiated. (16) In the context of the project, the personal abilities, needs and views of the participants with disabilities were important. So, too, were the public library setting and the views of librarians.
In summary, the crucial contexts for the study were the public libraries where the fieldwork took place, together with the lives of participants with a wide range of disabilities. We attempted to relate as closely as possible to the needs and experiences of individuals, but in the broader context of the needs and circumstances of a particular setting.
Use of action research
In combination with an interpretivist approach, action research was used. Hart and Bond identify seven criteria of action research, these being that it
1 is educative ed·u·ca·tive
Adj. 1. educative - resulting in education; "an educative experience"
instructive, informative - serving to instruct or enlighten or inform
2 deals with individuals as members of social groups
3 is problem focused, context specific and future orientated o·ri·en·tate
v. o·ri·en·tat·ed, o·ri·en·tat·ing, o·ri·en·tates
To orient: "He . . .
4 involves a change intervention
5 aims at improvement and involvement
6 involves a cyclic cyclic /cyc·lic/ (sik´lik) pertaining to or occurring in a cycle or cycles; applied to chemical compounds containing a ring of atoms in the nucleus.
cy·clic or cy·cli·cal
1. process in which research, action and evaluation are interlinked
7 is founded on a research relationship in which those involved are participants in the change process (17)
Our project met all these criteria. For example, in terms of criterion 6, a cyclical cyclical
Of or relating to a variable, such as housing starts, car sales, or the price of a certain stock, that is subject to regular or irregular up-and-down movements. approach was used for testing the adaptive equipment. The people with disabilities included ranged from those with severe cerebral palsy cerebral palsy (sərē`brəl pôl`zē), disability caused by brain damage before or during birth or in the first years, resulting in a loss of voluntary muscular control and coordination. , to people who were blind, to those who were old and a little shaky with normal sight deterioration de·te·ri·o·ra·tion
The process or condition of becoming worse. for their age. We needed to adjust constantly to their individual needs while trialing the equipment.
In relation to criterion 7, apart from the research partnership with SLV/Vicnet, the public librarians in the sites were also our partners. In the case of this project, an interpretivist/constructivist approach, while very important, was not suitable on its own. By also using action research, which involved the perspectives of key stakeholders Stakeholders
All parties that have an interest, financial or otherwise, in a firm-stockholders, creditors, bondholders, employees, customers, management, the community, and the government. , we ensured that the project would meet both the requirements of the funding body A funding body is an organisation that provides funds in the form of research grants or scholarships. Research Councils
Research Councils are funding bodies that are government-funded agencies engaged in the support of research in different disciplines and and be useful in the relevant settings.
Through action research, we were able to adjust our method for different disability groups, as feedback was obtained in a cyclical approach. We were also able to respond to librarians' views as the trials proceeded. For example, we did not recommend equipment or software which might meet the needs of particular groups with disabilities if they could not be easily supported by busy librarians, or where complex training was required.
Evaluation of the usability How easy something is to use. Both software and Web sites can be tested for usability. Considering how difficult applications are to use and Web sites are to navigate, one would wish that more designers took this seriously. See user interface and usability lab. of electronic library resources in Victorian public libraries **
This project was undertaken during 2000, at the time the Gulliver program--part of the Victorian government's Libraries online project--was being undertaken in Victoria. Through this program four databases were trialed in public libraries: Ebsco Publishing's World magazine bank; [AC Health reference center, now Health and wellness centre; [AC Custom and Infosentials Electric library. The aims included
* to determine the level of use of four sets of electronic resources, which were, at that time, being made available in a pilot program in Victoria
* to identify problems which arise with use and attempted use
* to evaluate the resources provided in relation to various factors including: ease of use, user preferences for use, and relevance of information content to users
* to make recommendations for improving access to electronic resources for the public in general, as well for three specific groups of users ie people with disabilities, those with non-English speaking backgrounds and rural and remote users
* to develop comprehensive approaches for evaluation which include qualitative research methods, as well as some quantitative procedures developed from the data collected. The latter procedures will be implemented as a computerised tool.
Once again this project involved a mixed method approach. We considered the project would be innovative in that it would employ qualitative research methods to contribute to a quantitative tool, which would enable a reliable comparison between electronic resources.
Once again, interpretivist/constructivist philosophy underpinned the qualitative component of the research. The aim was to include the perspectives and meanings of the key groups involved in the use of the databases. To achieve this, we collected data in four Victorian public library services. Two of the library services are in metropolitan areas (Bayside bay·side
Situated very close to or on the shore of a bay: bayside cottages. and Port Phillip
Port Phillip, also commonly called Port Phillip Bay or (locally) just the Bay, is a large bay in southern Victoria, Australia. ), one is a regional library service (Corangamite) and one is in a semi rural area (Casey-Cardinia). The research in each case began with a focus group of library staff to explore their perceptions of content and usability of each of their two databases, as well general access issues. A representative of the State Library of Victoria, mostly from Vision, was included in each of the focus groups, and attempts were made to include library staff in varying roles eg a library manager and a library technician A library technician is a person who uses their clerical skills to assist librarians acquire, prepare and organize information. They also assist library patrons in finding information although this is usually part of their required duties. . The focus groups were followed by interviews and trials of the resources with ten participants, who varied in age and gender, from each of the library services.
Each library service was allocated two of the four electronic resources offered through Gulliver for the purposes of the research. This was a matter of practicality. It would have been too time consuming for each librarian to test all four databases, and impossible to discuss them adequately in a hundred minute focus group session. The setting of homework, requiring staff to follow a topic of their choice in their two databases and to answer questions related to content and usability prior to their involvement in their focus group, resulted in data of high quality.
The findings: qualitative data
The findings from the qualitative data collection provide only a snap shot a quick offhand shot, without deliberately taking aim.
See also: Snap in time in the four library services. Moreover, progress in addressing issues may have been made since the data collection concluded in June 2000. The fact that nearly all library services in Victoria decided to subscribe to Verb 1. subscribe to - receive or obtain regularly; "We take the Times every day"
buy, purchase - obtain by purchase; acquire by means of a financial transaction; "The family purchased a new car"; "The conglomerate acquired a new company"; the databases in 2001 is an indication of the value placed on them.
That having been said, the researchers found the results somewhat surprising. As indicated above, the major focus of the research was to be the evaluation of the content and usability of the electronic resources, with the findings of the qualitative component feeding into the computerised tool which would enable comparisons between electronic resources to be made. While most librarians in the focus groups saw content as of paramount importance, including the extent to which full text was provided, they felt confident about the authority of the information found on all the databases. They were, on the whole, unconcerned about usability issues, feeling that all the databases were of a reasonable standard. As with the library users, there was a wide variety of personal preferences with regard to usability features. The strongest views were expressed about Electric library, which users often liked very much, or disliked dis·like
tr.v. dis·liked, dis·lik·ing, dis·likes
To regard with distaste or aversion.
An attitude or a feeling of distaste or aversion. intensely. Health reference center was highly regarded by most users for content and usability.
Access and training
The issues which were seen to be of greatest importance by the librarians in the focus groups concerned access and training. There were major issues of access to the databases, whether the proxy server Also called a "proxy," it is a computer system or router that breaks the connection between sender and receiver. Functioning as a relay between client and server, proxy servers are used to help prevent an attacker from invading the private network. or passwords were being used. Problems with internet connections, including slow response times, often exacerbated more specific difficulties. These problems were seen to deter staff from using the databases, especially given existing time pressures.
In relation to training, on the whole the staff of the library services believed that they were not very familiar with the databases. Even some who have been trained by SLV staff appeared not to have used the databases extensively. It also seemed that the databases were not being used optimally. It was generally agreed that further training was needed. As one librarian said `Staff need training on all the different aspects of these databases, because they are not always apparent from the first screen'. The researchers concluded that training should involve hands on tasks which familiarise staff with the databases. The homework, which required library staff to use the databases and answer questions prior to the focus groups, was seen as most beneficial to the staff involved. Many commented that they felt much more confident about using the databases as a result of the research.
Clearly training for staff is essential so that library users can be assisted to use the electronic resources. It was telling that almost all library users who were approached for interviews as part of the research had no idea that the databases existed, what they were for, and therefore how to use them. What is more, many users were either not computer literate computer literacy
The ability to operate a computer and to understand the language used in working with a specific system or systems.
computer literate adj. or had limited experience on pcs. It was not possible to evaluate effectively the resources, particularly in terms of content, with such inexperienced in·ex·pe·ri·ence
1. Lack of experience.
2. Lack of the knowledge gained from experience.
The findings: quantitative data
As indicated above, one of the aims of the project was to develop a ` tool which would enable reliable evaluation of, and comparisons between, electronic resources. The tool was to be an adaptation of MultiVal which had already been developed for decision support in the field of information systems by Maynard. (18) The strength and innovation of MultiVal was that once the criteria were identified, each stakeholder stakeholder n. a person having in his/her possession (holding) money or property in which he/she has no interest, right or title, awaiting the outcome of a dispute between two or more claimants to the money or property. could weight them according to their importance from their perspective. The criteria were then scored and an overall rating for the program was given. The Masters student who has worked on the tool in our project observed
I have not found a tool with this capacity, web enabled or otherwise, available for any form of evaluation at this time. There are many examples of survey type evaluations of programs and resources on the internet but as yet there is nothing which offers the capacity for weighting and scoring criteria (and giving an overall rating) that MultiVal can provide (19)
The fact that the evaluation rating can be stored for future use and that criteria can be easily removed, added or altered, increases the versatility of this now web based Coming from a Web server. See Web application. tool.
The major problem arising was that the qualitative data did not provide the criteria for the tool as was intended. Criteria such as ease of use, attractiveness of layout and design and relevance of content, which the researchers had considered were important for the evaluation of the electronic resources, did not seem to be so reliable and usable USable is a special idea contest to transfer US American ideas into practice in Germany. USable is initiated by the German Körber-Stiftung (foundation Körber). It is doted with 150,000 Euro and awarded every two years. after the qualitative data were analysed. For example, the search options varied from one database to another so that ease of use became a much more complex issue than originally thought.
Handley therefore looked at other ways of developing the criteria for use in the tool She found that `Discussions with SLV staff, and access to their internal procedures for evaluating electronic information resources (1) The data and information assets of an organization, department or unit. See data administration.
(2) Another name for the Information Systems (IS) or Information Technology (IT) department. See IT. have provided a rich source of material on which to base the criteria' and that staff procedures were well developed based on `... examples of evaluations used by other libraries and educational institutions, and through their own working groups'. SLV had identified its important stakeholders eg acquisitions librarians, technical support staff, library managers and the factors (criteria) relating to relating to relate prep → concernant
relating to relate prep → bezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc electronic databases which needed to be considered in an overall evaluation.
For the version of MultiVal, which she is customising to assist librarians to select electronic resources, Handley has included all criteria nominated nom·i·nate
tr.v. nom·i·nat·ed, nom·i·nat·ing, nom·i·nates
1. To propose by name as a candidate, especially for election.
2. To designate or appoint to an office, responsibility, or honor. by SLV as important to its current selection process. They have been grouped so they can be easily weighted and scored by the relevant stakeholder (evaluator).
For example, the criterion degree of full text on a database, is grouped with other factors relating to content. This criterion might be considered important enough to be given the weighting of 100 per cent by a particular evaluator, but another may consider this to be of less importance and weight it at, say, 80 per cent. Both evaluators might give a score of only 75 per cent if most, but not all, citations on the database are provided in full text. These weightings and scores for the range of criteria will result in an overall score for each of the electronic resources evaluated, for each evaluator.
MultiVal, when completed, promises to be a practical, useful, adaptable a·dapt·a·ble
Capable of adapting or of being adapted.
a·dapta·bil tool for evaluation of electronic--or any other library--resources. Indeed the potential for such a tool is well beyond library applications.
Developing the competency COMPETENCY, evidence. The legal fitness or ability of a witness to be heard on the trial of a cause. This term is also applied to written or other evidence which may be legally given on such trial, as, depositions, letters, account-books, and the like.
2. of public librarians in using online databases
Partly as a result of the findings of the Gulliver evaluation project, the State Library of NSW NSW New South Wales
Noun 1. NSW - the agency that provides units to conduct unconventional and counter-guerilla warfare
Naval Special Warfare and the National Library of Australia The National Library of Australia is located in Canberra, Australia. Established in 1960, the Library grew out of the Federal Parliamentary Library, which was established in 1901. are funding a project to improve the competencies of public librarians and their own members of staff in using electronic resources/online databases. This project began in early September 2001, and involves ITNR at CSU as well as at Monash University. *** It has the following objectives. To
* investigate perceptions of librarians about their present skills and needs for training in using online databases to satisfy clients' requests for information
* determine, through this investigation and supplementary discussions with experts, the base line skills which are needed for competent use of online databases to meet the information needs of users
* test the range of skills in the target population through objective measurement using a sample of librarians
* investigate ways of building genetic training modules which will include core sets of competencies which would apply across a range of databases and search engines
* develop a hierarchy of core competencies A core competency is something that a firm can do well and that meets the following three conditions specified by Hamel and Prahalad (1990):
* attribute these competencies to basic and advanced levels within the training modules (the advanced level will include a train the trainer component)
* test and evaluate the training modules with the original sample against specific learning outcomes, and make changes and adjustments as required
The research design will include
* qualitative research methods to investigate the perception of professional librarians about their present skills and training needs for using online databases to satisfy client enquiries
* action research to develop generic training modules to meet the aims and objectives of the research
* evaluation methods to assess the effectiveness of the training modules, as part of the action research.
The fieldwork for the project will be undertaken at three different sites: in Sydney, Canberra and Wagga Wagga, NSW and will involve twenty four librarians.
Research can play a valuable part in the practice of all librarians and information professionals. The profession will flourish where practitioners develop enquiring frames of mind, underpinned by an understanding of research. Research can assist the understanding of many of the issues involved in the provision of library services. Lowe makes a very strong statement about research in relation to information professionals
Research enables professionals to add value to their work and work practices ... (Its use) distinguishes between professionals who maintain the status quo without question and those who strive to develop their work practices through continual evaluation and investigation (21)
Given the more flexible approaches and wider range of research methods now available, there are many exciting possibilities for useful public library research which can add considerable value to practice. Partnerships between librarians and academic researchers offer particular opportunities. Through research collaborations, practitioners can develop their research skills and academic researchers can ensure that the research they undertake is relevant and useful. The research itself can generate community interest and result in new clients and services. For example, with the disability project discussed above the academic researchers made contact with various disability groups based in the communities of the libraries involved in the research. Sometimes this was done through librarians. At other times it was necessary for the academic researchers to make contacts. Often they received an enthusiastic response from those groups, who could have then been used to publicise Verb 1. publicise - call attention to; "Please don't advertise the fact that he has AIDS"
advertise, advertize, publicize
announce, denote - make known; make an announcement; "She denoted her feelings clearly" the library to their members with disabilities. One of the recommendations of the project was that `... reaching out to local disability organisations is the best way of making services known. Marketing services more widely in the local community is also important.' (22)
Issues for Victorian public libraries
From the 2001 paper which summarises the major issues confronting the Victorian public library system and which will need to be addressed in the development of policies for it, it is obvious that many of the questions raised lend themselves to research. For example, from the section on social engagement come the questions
* what would libraries and the communities gain by libraries becoming a delivery vehicle for community rebuilding programs ie to strengthen social cohesion cohesion: see adhesion and cohesion.
The tendency of atoms or molecules to coalesce into extended condensed states. This tendency is practically universal. ?
* how can public libraries demonstrate their centrality to the process of social engagement to government and others with influence in the community? (23)
Considerable understanding about these questions could be developed through some qualitative research in one locality 1. locality - In sequential architectures programs tend to access data that has been accessed recently (temporal locality) or that is at an address near recently referenced data (spatial locality). This is the basis for the speed-up obtained with a cache memory.
2. , or better still in several localities which might offer different perspectives and answers. The involvement of local councillors, key community groups, other community gatekeepers, and everyday library users and nonusers could be achieved through focus groups and individual interviews, to gain a rich picture of the range of community views. Action research could be undertaken to develop and pilot a program which would assist in bringing the community, or parts thereof, together.
Another section of the paper looks at changing roles and patterns of use. The aim of this section is `To understand the needs of different groups in the local community in order to provide library services for the whole community as inclusively as possible'. It is stated that there are significant gaps in the user base of public libraries, particularly among young people and young professionals.
One of the questions posed is
* can public libraries identify who their major user groups will be in five or ten years? Have they examined the overlap between their users and the users of other council provided services? (24)
Once again, understandings and insights about the needs of users and nonusers and the associated trends for the future would emerge from exploration with different community groups. The involvement of representatives from different community groups can leverage interest and support, and provide information and publicity about the library service. An example of the generation of this kind of interest was seen to result from the research undertaken for the review of library services at Port Phillip in 2000. The community was surveyed and a number of focus groups was held prior to the writing of the review documents by the librarians and staff of the Port Phillip Council. There was considerable enthusiasm and interest generated as a result of the research, as well as many ideas for development of the public library service. This undoubtedly provided a basis for marketing of the library service.
One of the problems with research is that it can be an isolated event and not have the continuing impact it deserves. Consistent frameworks and continuity can lead to an aggregation of effort. For example, action research undertaken by one library can be so much more effective if a group of library services takes part. By drawing in specialist researchers, librarians can develop their skills as researchers and the best possible outcomes can be attained. Information and Telecommunications Needs Research includes a former public librarian in its team. The group is very interested in public library research and has been involved in several recent public library projects, as discussed above.
The principal message from this paper is that you, too, can become a team researcher--learning skills, producing useful findings and improving and developing your library service. All that is required is some imagination about the possibilities and a will to try new ways of understanding.
* Reports of this project Online services for people with disabilities in Australian public libraries, which was funded by the AccessAbility Program, Australian Commonwealth Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, can be found on ITNR's website www.infotech.monash.edu.au/itnr/. The project was undertaken in partnership with the State Library of Victoria/Vicnet (with Larry Stillman as one of the chief investigators on the project) and was sponsored by AAPT AAPT American Association of Physics Teachers
AAPT Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists
AAPT American Association of Philosophy Teachers
AAPT American Association of Pharmacy Technicians
AAPT Australian Association for Psychological Type Ltd. See also papers by Williamson, Stillman, Bow and Schauder; Williamson, Wright, Schauder, Stillman and Jenkins; Williamson, Stockfeld, Louise, Wright, Schauder, and Bow. A video outlining the method used for the project and illustrating some suitable adaptive equipment is available from Information and Telecommunications Needs Research at Monash University telephone (03)99032322 or email email@example.com
** Members of Enterprise Information Resources Group (EIRG)/Information and Telecommunications Needs Research Group (ITNR) at Monash University undertook this study. The chief investigators, Associate Professor Frada Burstein and Dr Kirsty Williamson received an ARC Spirt Grant, in partnership with SLV/Vicnet, for the project. ARC Spirt grants (now called ARC Linkage linkage
In mechanical engineering, a system of solid, usually metallic, links (bars) connected to two or more other links by pin joints (hinges), sliding joints, or ball-and-socket joints to form a closed chain or a series of closed chains. ) are awarded for projects which involve industry/academic research partnerships. One of the options available under the Spirt (Linkage) Program is to include one or more PhD or Masters students in the projects for which funding is sought. The Monash/ SLV project involved a Masters student, Nettie Handley, who received an Australian postgraduate postgraduate
after first degree graduation, the registerable degree in veterinary science.
may be a research degree, e.g. PhD, or a course-work masterate with a vocational bias, or any combination of these. award (industry) to take part. Papers and articles on this project are in the process of being written. Two are already available (Williamson 2001; Williamson, Wright, Stockfeld, Schauder, Burstein, Handley 2001)
*** Marion Bannister who, for many years, worked as a public librarian and who is now an academic at Charles Sturt University, is one of the chief investigators for this project. The other is Kirsty Williamson who is employed by both CSU and Monash University
(1) Dick, A Influence of positivism positivism (pŏ`zĭtĭvĭzəm), philosophical doctrine that denies any validity to speculation or metaphysics. Sometimes associated with empiricism, positivism maintains that metaphysical questions are unanswerable and that the only on the design of scientific techniques: implications for library and information science techniques South African journal of library and information science 59(4) 1991 p232
(2) Goombridge, B The Londoner and his library London, Research Institute for Consumer Affairs 1964
(3) Handfield and Hamilton-Smith, E Libraries and people in Melbourne Melbourne, Library Council of Victoria 1975
(4) Goldhor, H A public opinion survey of the Evansville Public Library Occasional paper 56 Illinois, Illinois Library School 1975
(5) Williamson, K Library use and information needs in the City of Ringwood Melbourne, Department of Librarianship, Melbourne State College 1978
(6) Grosser, K and Bagnell, G External students and public libraries: student perspectives Australian library journal 38(4) November 1989 p303-317
(7) Report on a survey of users and nonusers of the St Kilda St Kilda may mean:
(8) Tanner, K Williamstown City Library user survey 1992 Melbourne, RMIT RMIT Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Department of Information Management and Library Studies 1993
(9) Flowers, L Nonusers of the upper Goulburn Library Service Australian library journal 44(2) May 1995 p67-85
(10) Navigating the economy of knowledge Institute of Cultural Policy Studies, Griffith University Griffith University is an Australian public university with five campuses in Queensland between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. In 2007 there were more than 33,000 enrolled students and 3,000 staff. 1995
(11) Berger, P and Luckman, T The social construction of reality: a treatise A scholarly legal publication containing all the law relating to a particular area, such as Criminal Law or Land-Use Control.
Lawyers commonly use treatises in order to review the law and update their knowledge of pertinent case decisions and statutes. in the sociology of knowledge The sociology of knowledge is the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects prevailing ideas have on societies. (Compare history of ideas. New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of , Anchor Press 1967
(12) Kelly, G The psychology of personal constructs vols 1 and 2 New York, Norton 1955
(13) Dervin, B From the mind's eye mind's eye
1. The inherent mental ability to imagine or remember scenes.
2. The imagination.
in one's mind's eye in one's imagination
of the user: the sense making qualitative-quantitative methodology in Glazier, J and Powell, Reds Qualitative research in information management Englewood Colorado, Libraries Unlimited 1992 p61-84
(14) Dervin, B and Nilan, M Information needs and uses in Williams, M ed Annual review of information science and technology 21 np. Knowledge Industry Publications 1986 p17
(15) Cassell, P ed The Giddens reader London, Macmillan, 1993 p89
(16) Bruner, J Actual minds, possible worlds Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press The Harvard University Press is a publishing house, a division of Harvard University, that is highly respected in academic publishing. It was established on January 13, 1913. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. 1986 cited by Schwandt, T Constructivist con·struc·tiv·ism
A movement in modern art originating in Moscow in 1920 and characterized by the use of industrial materials such as glass, sheet metal, and plastic to create nonrepresentational, often geometric objects. , interpretivist approaches to human inquiry in Denzin, N and Lincoln, Y eds The landscape of qualitative research London, Sage Publications This article or section needs sources or references that appear in reliable, third-party publications. Alone, primary sources and sources affiliated with the subject of this article are not sufficient for an accurate encyclopedia article. 1998 p225
(17) Hart, E and Bond, M Action research for health and social care: a guide to practice Buckingham, Open University Press 1995 p38-39
(18) Maynard, S A multiple-constituency approach for the evaluation of decisions support systems Masters thesis Faculty of Computing computing - computer and Information, Monash University 1997
(19) Handley, N Evaluating electronic data resources: a multiple perspective approach Paper presented to Masters Review Panel of School of Information Management and Systems September 2001 p5
(20) ibid p6
(21) Lowe, D Introduction to research in relation to professional practice Unpublished paper Caulfield Vic, School of Information Management and Systems 1999 p1
(22) Online services for people with disabilities in Australian public libraries Final report for the AccessAbility Program DoCITA. Caulfield Vic, Information and Telecommunications Needs Research, Monash University 2001
(23) The Strategy Shop Issues for Victorian public libraries in 2001. A brief paper summarizing the major issues which confront the Victorian Public Library system and which will need to be addressed in the development of policies for Victorian public libraries Melbourne, The State Library of Victoria and the Dept of Infrastructure www.doi.vic.gov.au/doi/internet/localgov.nsf/ Accessed 25 Sept 2001 p7
(24) ibid p8
Giddens, A The constitution of society: outline of a theory of structuration The theory of structuration, proposed by Anthony Giddens (1984) in The Constitution of Society, (mentioned also in Central Problems of Social Theory, 1979) is an attempt to reconcile theoretical dichotomies of social systems such as agency/structure, Cambridge, Polity Press 1984
Williamson, K Knowledge management issues in people's use of telecommunications and new media in Burstein, F and Linger lin·ger
v. lin·gered, lin·ger·ing, lin·gers
1. To be slow in leaving, especially out of reluctance; tarry. See Synonyms at stay1.
2. , H eds Knowledge management for information communities, proceedings of the Australian conference of knowledge management & intelligent decision support Monash University 4-5 December, 2000 Melbourne, Australian Scholarly Publishers 2001
Williamson, K, Stillman, L, Bow, A and Schauder, D Guidelines guidelines,
n.pl a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks. for a flexible public online workstation for people with disabilities Paper presented at OzCHI 99 Interfaces for the global community, Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga 28-30 November 1999. Wagga Wagga NSW, Charles Sturt University 1999 p92-97
Williamson, K, Stillman, L, Bow, A and Schauder, D Online services for people with disabilities in Australian public libraries A refereed occasional paper documenting a paper presented at the AccessAbility conference for online services for people with disabilities, held at Monash University 11 June 1999 www.infotech.monash. edu.au/itnr/ Accessed 25 Sept 2001 Williamson, K, Stillman, L, Bow, A and Schauder, D Online services in public settings for persons with disabilities Keynote paper presented at Telecom 99/Interactive 99, International Telecommunication Union International Telecommunication Union (ITU), specialized agency of the United Nations, with headquarters at Geneva. It was created in 1934 as a result of the merging of the International Telegraph Union (est. conference Geneva Geneva, canton and city, Switzerland
Geneva (jənē`və), Fr. Genève, canton (1990 pop. 373,019), 109 sq mi (282 sq km), SW Switzerland, surrounding the southwest tip of the Lake of Geneva. 10-17 October 1999. Published on cdrom and at www.itu.int/TELECOM Accessed 25 Sept 2001
Williamson, K, Stillman, L, Bow, A and Schauder, D Public online access for people with disabilities Paper presented at Arata 1999 Technology for life: education, work and leisure. Fourth Australian conference of Arata (Australian Rehabilitation rehabilitation: see physical therapy. and Assistive Technology Hardware and software that help people who are physically impaired. Often called "accessibility options" when referring to enhancements for using the computer, the entire field of assistive technology is quite vast and even includes ramp and doorway construction in buildings to support Association) on technology for people with disabilities, held 28-30 September 1999 at the Masonic Centre, Sydney. Sydney, Arata Internet Access See how to access the Internet. Section 1999 p 13-15
Williamson, K, Stockfeld, L, Wright, S, Schauder, D and Bow, A The role of the internet for people with disabilities: issues of access and equity for public libraries Australian library journal 50(2) 2001 p157-174
Williamson, K, Wright, S, Schauder, D, Stillman, L and Jenkins, L Flexible work stations in community settings for people with disabilities Paper presented at Communications Research Forum 2000 conference hosted by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts held at Old Parliament House Canberra 3-4 October 2000 www.dcita.gov.au Accessed 25 Sept 2001
Williamson, K, Wright, S, Schauder, D, Stillman, L and Jenkins, L Levelling the playing field: the role of libraries in providing online services for people with disabilities Paper presented at Alia 2000 conference Capitalising on knowledge, held at the National Convention Centre Canberra, 2327 October, 2000 www.alia.org.au/conferences/ alia2000/ Accessed 25 Sept 2001
Williamson, K, Wright, S, Stockfeld, L, Schauder, D, Burstein, F and Handley, N Trialling online database resources in public libraries: issues for reference staff Proceedings of Revelling in reference. Alia Reference and Information Section symposium VUT VUT Vanuatu (ISO Country code)
VUT Victoria University of Technology (now Victoria University)
VUT Vaal University of Technology (South Africa) Conference Centre 12-14 October 2001
Kirsty Williamson B A TIC GradDipLib MLib PhD AALIA AALIA Associate of the Australian Library and Information Association is director of the Information and Telecommunications Needs Research (ITNR), which is a joint venture of the School of Information Management and Systems at Monash University and of the School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University. She was a foundation member of the predecessor of the ITNR (the Telecommunications Needs Research Group), which was established at RMIT University in 1991. The group received considerable funding from the Telstra Fund for social and policy research over a period of six years and Kirsty also received Telstra funding for her PhD Older adults: information, communication and telecommunications.
ITNR is at present undertaking studies ranging from research which focuses on online services for people with disabilities, including the development of websites suited to the deaf and people with physical and intellectual disabilities; the evaluation of databases offered in the public libraries of Victoria through the Gulliver project, and associated training needs; and the investigation of the advantages and disadvantages of teleworking for Monash University academics. Address: School of Information Management and Systems Level 7 26 Sir John Monash General Sir John Monash GCMG, KCB, VD (27 June 1865 – 8 October 1931) was an Australian military commander of the First World War. Early life
Monash was born in Dudley Street Dve Monash University Caulfield East Vic 3145 Tel(03)99031083 fax(03)99032005 firstname.lastname@example.org