Webology, Volume 5, Number 2, June, 2008

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Book Review


Connor, Elisabeth (ed.). Evidence-based librarianship: Case studies and active learning exercises. Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2007. xxxviii, 170 p. ISBN 1-84334-299-5. £ 39.95.


Evidence-based librarianship: Case studies and active learning exercises earned wide readership for its novelty contents and multinational contributors with wide range of case studies. The edited title consists of 8 chapters with 23 contributors of which mostly are from USA and few others are from Sweden, Britain, Italy and Australia. A close look of the text reveals the book is written from American viewpoint however they don't differ in the common objective of the text as all stand on a familiar practice by exhibiting the competencies on the field of evidence-based librarianship (EBL). In the preface editor Elizabeth Connor writes 'the main purpose of this book is to make evidence-based practice more accessible to entry-level, mid-career and experienced librarians alike.' She explains that EBL, as it is often referred to, has relevance to practitioners and researchers, and points out that it can be a library's best defence against harmful decisions imposed from outside. Lean from your own experience and get advantage of your own evidences is the motto of the text.

The book begins with an introduction in which Jonathan D. Eldrige gives a current overview of the theme EBL and its emergence. This may provide the background theme of the title and a gateway to the rest of the chapters.

Chapter 1 designing a curriculum in evidence-based practice by Carol Perryman and Joanne Gard Marshall is different than other chapters as it is related to library and information science (LIS) teaching. Being a teacher the reviewer offers a close look to this as it describes the design and delivery of a pilot course in evidence-based librarianship in School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library Schools of other nations can get the lessons to implement for their learners.

Rests of the chapters are unique in their own way as they talk of recent and varieties of case studies. The common premise which holds the chapters are for applying EBL for improvement of information services. In the chapter 2: action based research and information literacy a group of students at the University of Parma (Italy) was offered an information literacy workshop connected with the ecology programme and integrated into the curriculum of the Environmental Sciences School. Action research was adopted as a methodological approach and the project was developed as cycle of observing, planning, acting and evaluating. Chapter 3: harnessing the power of information is also a case study of implementation of media programme of American Association of School Librarians (AASL) at Redwood High School. In the next chapter what, so what, now what Carle Brooks et al. describes how consultancy can be helpful for continuous feedback and improvement of library operations and services. The process described in the chapter shows how the consultant, Formative Evaluation Research Associates (FERA), enabled library staff members to move from simply gathering data towards analyzing the data and taking action. Moving on to the next chapter evidence-based librarianship Down Under . . . which shows the story of Australian case study of resource sharing. The chapter 6 of the book is a new paradigm for morning report in which almost a dozen authors put their experience about the 'morning report' of a medicine school and how the librarians can be helpful in educating the physicians and also the importance of Clinical Medical Librarian (CML) programme is lauded.

The last two chapters are reaching out to research students: information literacy in context and the Cal Poly digital learning initiative. The former provides the message in the case study of Leeds University Library in which it set out to discover the core facets of an information-literate student and design new training to support research students in their development of these skills. The later talks about a case study of California Polytechnic how local digital initiative helps the pace of teaching-learning process.

The best part of the book, the reviewer found is the exercises at the end of each case study allow the readers to inspect the evidence presented and to evaluate various facets of the services illustrated and the decisions taken as a result of the evidence collected. The layout of the book is clear, as is the writing style of the writers. The reviewer feels this was a good introduction to some of the concepts needed to practice evidence-based librarianship. The reader might smell the geographically-biased perception as most experts are from America where as the case is not true. More examples of case study should come forward from other nations especially the developing nations, where methods of LIS teaching and library services are predominantly tradition-based. Personally the reviewer wishes to see the possibilities to implement at his library school in India.


N. K. Swain
Lecturer, Department of Library Science
Vani Mandir Building
Banasthali University
Rajasthan - 304 022, INDIA.
E-mail: nkswainlisfaculty (at) gmail.com

Bibliographic information of this book review for citing:

Swain, N.K. (2008). "Review of: Connor, E. Evidence-based librarianship: Case studies and active learning exercises." Oxford: Chandos Publishing. Webology, 5(2), Book Review 16. Available at: http://www.webology.org/2008/v5n2/bookreview16.html

Copyright © 2008, N.K. Swain