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Evidence Based Librarianship. Virginia Wilson Coordinator, Saskatchewan Health Information Resources Partnership University of Saskatchewan May 26, 2008. Outline . Background of EBL The EBL Framework The EBL Toolkit—The Steps EBL Support and Resources. Evidence Based Medicine.

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Evidence based librarianship

Evidence Based Librarianship

Virginia Wilson

Coordinator, Saskatchewan Health Information Resources Partnership

University of Saskatchewan

May 26, 2008


  • Background of EBL

  • The EBL Framework

  • The EBL Toolkit—The Steps

  • EBL Support and Resources

Evidence based medicine
Evidence Based Medicine

Reasons for the spread of EBM

  • Daily need for valid information

  • Traditional sources:

    • Textbooks

    • Experts

    • Didactic continuing medical information

    • Medical Journals

  • Up-to-date knowledge diminishes

  • Time pressures

    Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (U. Toronto) http://www.cebm.utoronto.ca/intro/interest.htm

Other types of evidence based practice
Other Types of Evidence Based Practice

  • Evidence Based Crime Prevention

  • Evidence Based Policy Development

  • Evidence Based Software Engineering

  • Evidence Based Scheduling

  • Evidence Based Social Work

  • Evidence Based Nursing

  • Evidence Based Management

  • Evidence Based Dentistry

  • Evidence Based Policing

  • Evidence Based Business

  • Evidence Based Conservation

Evidence based librarianship1
Evidence Based Librarianship


  • EBL

  • Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP)

  • Evidence Based Information Practice (EBIP)

Ebl definitions
EBL: Definitions

  • Three definitions came into being in the early 2000s.

  • Jonathan Eldredge, USA

  • Andrew Booth, UK

  • Denise Koufogiannakis and Ellen Crumley, Canada

Evidence based librarianship

Evidence based librarianship (EBL) seeks to improve library practice by utilising the best available evidence in conjunction with a pragmatic perspective developed from working experiences in librarianship. The best available evidence might be produced from either quantitative or qualitative research design, depending on the EBL question posed, although EBL encourages using more rigorous forms over less rigorous forms of evidence when making decisions.”

(Eldredge, 2002)

Evidence based librarianship

Evidence based librarianship (EBL) is an approach to information science that promotes the collection, interpretation, and integration of valid, important, and applicable user reported, librarian observed, and research derived evidence. The best available evidence moderated by user needs and preferences is applied to improve the quality of professional judgments.”

(Booth, 2002)

Evidence based librarianship

"Evidence-based librarianship (EBL) is a means to improve the profession of librarianship by asking questions as well as finding, critically appraising and incorporating research evidence from library science (and other disciplines) into daily practice. It also involves encouraging librarians to conduct high quality qualitative and quantitative research."

(Crumley and Koufogiannakis, 2002)

Commonalities among the definitions
Commonalities among the definitions:

  • A context of day to day decision making

  • An emphasis on improving the quality of the professional practice

  • A pragmatic focus on the “best available evidence”

  • Incorporation of the user perspective

  • Acceptance of a broad range of quantitative and qualitative designs

    (Booth, 2002)

So what
So what?

Q: Why should law librarians care about the growing evidence based movement?

A1: Enhance your own practice

A2: Empirical Legal Research

A3: Evidence Based Law?

Enhance your practice
Enhance your practice

  • Improve decision making, streamline services, implement the optimum procedure, etc.

  • Provide more opportunities for collaboration and communication

  • Increase credibility among library patrons and funding organizations

Empirical legal research
Empirical Legal Research

  • Based on observation and experience

  • Traditional methods enhanced by using a solid base of up to date empirical information

  • Purpose: the help legal scholars determine if a law or process is actually doing what it has set out to do

    (Ridley, 2006)

Evidence based law
Evidence Based Law

  • “Following the trend in healthcare, the legal market will adopt ‘evidence based law.’ General counsels will finally put bite behind the bark for lower costs and better service. They or their agents will systematically analyze how lawyers work [. . . ]and develop best practice.”

    (Friedman, quoted in Lerdal, 2006)

Ebl the framework
EBL: The Framework

Evidence Based Librarianship:

  • combines a conceptual framework with practical tools

  • enables librarians to do their jobs more effectively and in a more informed fashion

  • is a way of systematizing the decision-making process in order to achieve more reliable results


  • Where to find the evidence? Lack of pertinent evidence; narrow evidence base; lack of good indexing

  • Lack of time

  • Management that doesn't support this approach

  • Lack of research skills; or, lack of confidence in research skills

  • Access to resources

The ebl process
The EBL Process

Step 1: Formulate a Question

Step 2: Find the Evidence

Step 3: Appraise the Evidence

Step 4: Apply the Evidence

Step 5: Evaluate the Results

Step 6: Disseminate the Results

Step one formulate a question
Step One: Formulate a Question

  • The most important step

  • The foundation of the EBL process

  • The question needs to be answerable: not too broad, yet not too narrow.

  • Multi-faceted questions need to have a focus

Step two finding the evidence
Step Two: Finding the Evidence

  • What kinds of evidence?

  • Where is the evidence?

  • What if there’s no evidence?

What kinds of evidence
What Kinds of Evidence?

  • Qualitative research

  • Quantitative research

  • The concept of the “best available” evidence

Where is the evidence
Where is the Evidence?

  • For fee resources

  • Open source resources

  • Library literature

  • In the literature of other


Domains of inquiry
Domains of Inquiry

  • It’s been suggested that every LIS practice question falls within one or more of the following domains:

    • collections

    • education

    • management

    • professional issues

    • information access and retrieval

    • reference/enquires

      (Crumley and Koufogiannakis)

Sources of evidence
Sources of Evidence

Open Access Database

LISTA: http://www.libraryresearch.com

From Ebsco publishing. Open access. A free bibliographic database providing coverage on subjects such as librarianship, classification, cataloging, bibliometrics, online information retrieval, information management, and more.

Evidence based librarianship

Open Access Journals

  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) http://www.doaj.org/

  • Evidence Based Library and Information Practice http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP

  • Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research


  • LIBRES: Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal http://libres.curtin.edu.au/

Evidence based librarianship

Open Access Archives

  • E-LIS http://eprints.rclis.org/

  • dLIST http://dlist.sir.arizona.edu/

  • OCLC Research Publications Repository http://www.oclc.org/research/publications/search.htm

  • The Directory of Open Access Repositories-OpenDOAR http://www.opendoar.org/

Evidence based librarianship

The Committee to Promote Research—a SIG of CALL

Research Resources for Law Librarians


  • On the CALL/ACBD website

  • A mix between open access and for fee resources

What if there s no evidence
What If There’s No Evidence?

  • Take the question you’ve formulated by using PICO or SPICE and design some research around it.

  • Consider publishing your findings to increase the body of evidence.

  • Don't be intimidated by the idea of "research": projects can be small and practical.

Step three appraise the evidence
Step Three: Appraise the Evidence

  • Critical appraisal is the process of assessing and interpreting evidence by systematically considering its relevance, validity and reliability.

  • Relevance

  • Validity

  • Reliability

Step four apply the evidence
Step Four: Apply the Evidence

Applicability: "whether a study is generalizable or relevant to your situation" (Koufogainnakis and Crumley, "Applying Evidence to your Everyday Practice." in Booth and Brice, 2004, 120)

The evidence will usually be one of three things:

1. directly applicable

2. needs to be locally validated (i.e. replicate the study at the local level)

3. improves your understanding of the situation

Determining applicability
Determining Applicability

Variables to consider when determining applicability:

  • User group

  • Time lines

  • Cost

  • Politics

  • Severity

    (Koufogiannakis and Crumley, 121-123)

Step five evaluate the results
Step Five: Evaluate the Results

Evaluate the success of your use of the evidence on two levels:

  • Practitioner - were all the steps of EBL followed successfully?

  • Practice implications - was the decision you made after consulting the research a good one?

Step six disseminating the results
Step Six: Disseminating the Results

Ways of dissemination:

  • Workshops, continuing education, conferences, training, journal club discussion groups

  • Organizational policy/guidelines, meetings

  • Publishing/writing, the internet

  • Word of mouth, focus groups, leadership, sharing articles, e-mail, list-serv, networking, mentoring

Ebl support and resources
EBL Support and Resources

  • EBL Toolkit

  • http://ebltoolkit.pbwiki.com/

  • To give feedback on the toolkit contact Virginia Wilson: virginia.wilson@usask.ca