evidence-based practice

EBLIP chat: Day 5 – what is evidence?

#blogjune Day 5: In this video I outline three different types of evidence considered as part of the Evidence Based Library and Information Practice model.


G’day and welcome to this video series chatting about all things evidence-based library & information practice – what it is, where it came from, tips and tricks on how to get started and the challenges and opportunities related to its implementation.

In this video I thought I’d delve into the age-old question of what is evidence. Initially, research evidence was considered the only valid type of evidence to inform our professional practice despite other sources or types being mentioned in Booth’s early definition.

“User reported” loosely translated to context, community or user needs and wants. And then you’ve got “librarian observed”, so what the practitioner can see happening in their service context.

Research as the only valid type of evidence in library and information science is problematic for a few reasons. One is that our research evidence base doesn’t resemble the medical profession neither is it as developed. So the second reason being that in the early days in the 90s Eldredge who published about how medical librarians were adopting evidence-based practice published a hierarchy of research evidence and placed qualitative research towards the bottom of that hierarchy in terms of quality. That’s just simply not the case in library and information science.

Then Denise Koufogiannakis comes along and says ‘nah mate that’s not going to work for our professional context’. (Okay, probably not those words but let’s go with to the effect of) and in 2011 she presented and recognised the two other types of evidence – local evidence and professional knowledge, because we can’t really discount what we know as professionals and what we observe about our communities and what we know of them.

And so I think this view of evidence combined with a study that was done by Thorpe, Partridge and Edwards published in 2008 and 10, looking at practitioner lived experiences of evidence-based practice, really then I think accelerated the conversation more because it started to get more realistic, accessible and applicable to our professional context. Saying ‘okay now we’re getting somewhere that we could you know potentially get to a place for this model that we could adopt and really you know, make it real.

So now we have three types of evidence recognised in the EBLIP model – research, local evidence and professional knowledge. And I thought in the next few videos I’ll delve into each of those in turn.

Until next time, take care. Cheers.

You can also view Day 5 (What is evidence?) video here.


Booth, A. (2002). From EBM to EBL: Two steps forward or one step back? Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 21(3), 51-64. http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J115v21n03_04

Eldredge, J. D. (2000). Evidence-based librarianship: An overview. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, 88(4), 289-302. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC35250/

Koufogiannakis, D. (2011). Considering the place of practice-based evidence within Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP). Library & Information Research, 35(111), 41-58. Retrieved from http://www.lirgjournal.org.uk/lir/ojs/index.php/lir/article/view/486/527

Partridge, H., Edwards, S. L., & Thorpe, C. (2010). Evidence-based practice: Information professionals’ experience of information literacy in the workplace. In A. Lloyd & S. Talja (Eds.). Practising information literacy: Bringing theories of learning, practice and information literacy together. (pp. 273-297). Amsterdam: Chandos. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-1-876938-79-6.50013-3

Thorpe, C., Partridge., & Edwards, S. L. (2008). Are library and information professionals ready for evidence based practice? Paper presented at Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) Biennial Conference 2-5 September 2008, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia.

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