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Theses and Dissertations

An Exploration of Academic Librarians as Researchers within a University Setting Open Access


Other title
Librarian Research
Librarians as Researchers
Academic Librarians
Perceptions of Librarians
Academic Libraries
Library Research
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Babb, Maureen N
Supervisor and department
McNally, Michael (School of Library and Information Studies)
Examining committee member and department
McNally, Michael (School of Library and Information Studies)
Samek, Toni (School of Library and Information Studies)
Oliphant, Tami (School of Library and Information Studies)
School of Library and Information Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-06:Spring 2017
Master of Library and Information Studies
Degree level
This thesis explores the role of academic librarians as researchers, according to the perceptions of academic librarians themselves, as well as non-librarian faculty. Data collection included surveying 60 participants, including 30 librarians and 30 non-librarian faculty from six Canadian universities, interviewing two librarians from one Canadian university for a pilot study, interviewing 15 librarians and seven non-librarian faculty members from eight Canadian universities, and conducting a document analysis of the collective agreements from 12 Canadian universities. Interviews were conducted after survey results had been analysed, and were informed by the results of those surveys. Interviews solicited more detailed and nuanced information than the surveys. Survey data were analysed using descriptive statistics, interview data were analysed using conventional content analysis, and the collective agreements were analysed using manifest content analysis. Librarians were found to regularly engage in research, and research was considered to be an important duty of librarians, though not their primary duty. Research carried out by librarians was considered important for the profession, while often simultaneously considered extraneous to the individual jobs of librarians. Librarian research was found to confer a variety of benefits by contributing to the discipline in which the research was conducted, improving professional practice, and by encouraging trust and communication between librarians and non-librarian faculty. Non-librarian faculty were found to be largely unaware of librarian research, though generally encouraging of it despite this lack of awareness. Librarians generally wanted to engage in research, frequently to a greater degree than they were practically able to. A lack of formalised support for librarian research was common, even at universities where research was an expectation for librarians, particularly with regard to time allotted for research, funding opportunities, and research mentorship and education. This lack of support was reflected in many collective agreements that contained vague language that had potential to minimize support for, or even hamper, librarian research. All participants indicated that librarians must be free to conduct research. Ultimately, librarian research was found to be highly valuable, yet under threat. In order to support librarian research, universities can ensure that librarians have the time, financial and institutional support, and education necessary to conduct research. In addition, librarians must advocate for their right to conduct research in order to make supervisors and university administration more aware of the value of librarian research. As well, librarian research will grow in a climate of research and peer support at Canadian universities.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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