Employing Evidence: Does it Have a Job in Vocational Libraries?

Cecily Martina, Bradley Jones

Abstract


Objective - Evidence based librarianship (EBL) springs from medical and academic origins. As librarians are tertiary educated (only occasionally with supplementary qualifications covering research and statistics) EBL has had an academic focus. The EBL literature has significant content from school and university perspectives, but has had little, if any, vocational content. This paper suggests a possible Evidence Based Librarianship context for vocational libraries.


Methods - A multidisciplinary scan of evidence based literature was undertaken, covering medicine and allied health, librarianship, law, science and education. National and international vocational education developments were examined. The concept and use of evidence in vocational libraries was considered.

Results - Library practice can generally benefit from generic empirical science methodologies used elsewhere. Different areas, however, may have different concepts of what constitutes evidence and appropriate methodologies. Libraries also need to reflect the evidence used in their host organisations. The Australian vocational librarian has been functioning in an evidence based educational sector: national, transportable, prescriptive, competency based and outcome driven Training Packages. These require a qualitatively different concept of evidence compared to other educational sectors as they reflect pragmatic, economic, employability outcomes.

Conclusions - Vocational and other librarians have been doing research but need to be more systematic about design and analysis. Librarians need to develop ‘evidence literacy’ as one of their professional evaluation skills. Libraries will need to utilise evidence relevant to their host organisations to establish and maintain credibility, and in the vocational sector this is set in a competency based framework. Competency based measures are becoming increasingly relevant in school and university (including medical) education.


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