Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference 2018, 30 July - 2 August 2018 Gold Coast: Roar Leap Dare
This conference paper discusses the creation of a role dedicated to embedding evidence-based practice into Australian academic libraries. By explicitly positioning evidence-based practice so prominently within USQ Library we are taking a leap forward, using local, professional and research evidence to transform our collections, spaces and services in response to ever-evolving client needs.
Over the past two decades, evidence-based practice and its application to library and information science has been an ongoing topic of discussion among researchers and practitioners. Evidence-based practice refers to a structured process of collecting, interpreting and applying valid and reliable research and evidence to support decision making and continuous service improvement in professional practice. Earlier research focused on how librarians perceive and experience evidence-based practice, and the benefits of doing so. In 2016, the University of Southern Queensland Library chose to intentionally incorporate evidence-based practice, by creating a role explicitly dedicated to enabling capacity among staff and to develop the library’s evidence base. While other libraries may have a person responsible for analysing data and statistics, the Coordinator, Evidence-based Practice, is charged with a broader mandate – to work with library staff to develop tools, skills and expertise in evidence-based practice. By doing this, we aim to enable the library to demonstrate value to stakeholders, gain a deeper understanding of clients’ needs and experiences, promote robust decision making and improve service delivery.
This paper draws on recent research and the broader, existing understanding of evidence-based library and information practice to describe why this role was created and how the Coordinator, Evidence-based Practice is working to engage with library staff to understand their business and the evidence needed to support business improvement for the Library. The paper will discuss how we have supported a culture of evidence-based practice and the benefits of having a dedicated role has had on building the capacity of library staff as evidence-based practitioners. USQ Library is still at the beginning of the journey in developing, not only the evidence-based practice function, but also harnessing the potential of the local evidence base to support the university’s strategic goals and objectives. The new role of Coordinator, Evidence-Based Practice, demonstrates evidence-based practice in action. It represents a clear strategic and intentional commitment by decision makers to make evidence-based practice a visible, embedded and valuable part of professional practice at USQ Library.