evidence-based practice

EBLIP chat: Day 9 – “Best available” evidence

#blogjune Day 9: A little over the three minute mark, but it’s a half-decent take and a pretty good effort. So up it goes. ūüôā

Today I tease out what is meant by ‘best available’ evidence in Booth’s (2002) early definition of evidence-based library and information practice. Basically, evidence is never perfect, and nor do we have ready access to all the evidence we need to make decisions or improvements to services or professional practice.


G’day and welcome to this video series chatting about all things evidence-based¬†library and 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 at an individual practitioner level and also¬†an organisational level as well.

In this video I’m talking about evidence and I¬†want to draw your attention to a little tiny bit of Booth’s early definition of¬†EBLIP and that is “best available”.

Evidence is not perfect

“Best¬†available” recognises a few things. One is that not one type or¬†source of evidence is going to be perfect. Evidence is never going to be¬†perfect, nor is one type or source of evidence going to answer your question.¬†In fact, practitioners are encouraged to use more than one or multiple types or¬†sources of evidence in order to help them make decisions in professional¬†practice.

Evidence that we want is not always accessible or available

The second thing I’ll draw attention to is that “best available”¬†evidence is not always available or accessible to us.¬†For example, libraries would like to draw some sort of correlation between¬†attendance or engagement with library services with academic success. Some¬†libraries have access to this data, some don’t. It really differs according to¬†your context, though it would be difficult to draw a direct correlation¬†of course.

Time impacts evidence that is applied

And the third thing is that time is usually not on our side when¬†making decisions or service improvements. Think about this current situation of¬†COVID19 and how libraries have had to adjust fairly rapidly to user needs¬†during this time. So sometimes you have to settle with what you have to make¬†the decision and reevaluate later. Or reevaluate the impact that decision has¬†had on services and communities later on. That’s when you could identify¬†what evidence you need to make future decisions.¬†For example, we don’t know or there’s little evidence about how long should¬†the physical collection items need to be quarantined for when they are returned.¬†So you know we really have to just make a decision¬†and then gauge and reevaluate later on.

I think the key thing¬†here is that practitioners need to understand the¬†evidence that they need in order to identify what is “best available”. The¬†other thing is that we need to understand the limits, gaps, pitfalls of¬†evidence as well in order to appraise it and apply evidence to our¬†given scenario effectively. Ask the question ‘what¬†doesn’t this evidence tell me about the decision or the improvement I’m trying¬†to make?’


If you have any questions at all about EBLIP, do get in touch. I’ll try to address them in this video¬†series.

Until next time take care. Cheers.

You can also view Day 9 (“Best available”) video here.

Catch up on all the videos here.


Booth, A. (2002). From EBM to EBL: two steps forward or one step back? Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 21(3), 51-64

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