Dissemination of Research in LIS

A statement by the American Library Association Committee on Research and Statistics

June 2001


In response to a recommendation from the 1st Congress on Professional Education (April, 1999) that ALA “disseminate (in appropriate ways) the findings and conclusions from research and their implications for professional practice.” The Executive Board asked CORS to prepare “findings and recommendations related to the effective dissemination of research.” After some investigation and discussion of what ALA and similar associations do to disseminate research findings, the committee reflected on the several parties involved in the effective dissemination of research results in any practice discipline. It is our belief that four major parties play a role: the researchers, the practitioners, the educators, and the professional associations.

  1. The Researchers must keep in mind that unless the implications of research are communicated to practitioners, the results are of little value.
  2. The Practitioners must keep in mind that systematic attention to these findings is a professional obligation.
  3. The Educators must base course work on a diligent awareness of research findings and reflection on their implications.
  4. The Professional Associations must disseminate results purposefully and encourage the development of communication among all those concerned.

ALA shares responsibility for dissemination of research with three other parties and is currently doing many different things to fulfill that responsibility. Units of ALA are involved in the following dissemination activities:

  1. Periodical articles: all of the divisions with periodicals, published articles on research results occasionally and American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has an electronic journal devoted to research – School Library Media Research.
  2. Conference Programs: Each year Office for Research and Statistics (ORS) compiles a list of “Meetings Related to Research and Statistics,” at the upcoming Annual Conference. A review of those lists since 1995 shows that each year, one or more ALA units sponsors programs relating research results to the practice of librarianship. In addition, some events about research results occur every year, such as: AASL/Highsmith Research Award Forum ACRL/STS: Forum for Science and Technology Library Research LRRT: New Research by New Researchers RUSA/MOUSS: Reference Research Forum
  3. Awards: Each year, the Library Research Round Table (LRRT) calls attention to excellent research through the Jesse H. Shera Award for Distinguished Published Research.
  4. Review Articles: Each year, ORS compiles “Research on Libraries and Librarians in (year)” for the Bowker Annual.
  5. Bibliographies/summaries of research: The Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, Cataloging and Classification Section, Policy and Research Committee has posted on the web short essays on seven topics summarizing recent research topics. The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) Machine-Assisted Reference Section just published an annotated bibliography of studies on “Users’ Information Seeking Behavior” in Reference & User Services Quarterly
  6. Committees: Almost every division has a research committee and large divisions with sections have more than one. The function statement of research committees often include a responsibility for dissemination –which leads to the activities listed above.

    All of these efforts should be recognized and encouraged. To facilitate that, this memo will be posted on the ORS web site and a message will be sent to the Research and Statistics Assembly suggesting that the list be used as a source of ideas for ALA units.