Review of EBLIP (Evidence Based Library and Information Practice) online course, University of Sheffield
March 4, 2010
I recently completed the Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP) course run by the University of Sheffield. The aim of the course was to give library and information staff an introduction to EBLIP- to learn what it is and how an EBLIP programme can be put into practice.
Reasons for EBLIP
The concept behind the course is that EBLIP is becoming increasingly useful and important in libraries, with the need to prove cost effectiveness and the worth of library services to organisations, EBLIP is a way to make rational decisions on the provision of services and to prove, through the use of evidence, why changes to services are necessary. These changes could include providing new services to users, utilising new technology or on the other hand deciding to cut an under-used service.
This course was a new experience to me in that it was wholly ‘virtual’ with no contact (except electronically) with tutors and others on the course. Emails were sent every second day to my email address with the work to be completed, and course materials were held on the University’s ‘FOLIO’ website. Though at times the regularity of the work being handed down was quite demanding - it would be easy to fall behind if trying to stick to the schedule,- there was flexibility which made it possible to catch up later if time became an issue. Coursework came in several formats individual tasks and working in a ‘buddy’ group, these were teams of 3-4 in which participants worked on different tasks together. Communication within the group was via email and through a google mailing list that we set up.
As the name suggests the main object of the course was dealing with ‘evidence’. Participants were asked to come up with a ‘burning question’ regarding their service; this could be on any issue that was interesting or relevant (I chose making changes to a library website). The next task was to apply a formula; Ask, Acquire, Appraise Apply and Assess to the question. This involved applying an evaluation tool to clearly define your question. We used the SPICE (Setting, Perspective, Intervention, Comparison, Evaluation) framework which was similar to a SWOT analysis tool.
Having defined the question we then moved onto Acquiring evidence.
This was done through searching various databases to find a piece of literature relevant to the burning question. Although we were looking for journal articles, annual statistics, surveys, user feedback etc can all be used when implementing a real EBLIP programme.
Next, we utilised another checklist to Appraise the literature to make sure it was the right piece for our question. Again, there were various checklist tools that could be used depending on the type of question.
Once the literature / evidence had passed the Appraise stage it was then Applied, and again, this involved applying a checklist to consider five aspects which are important when making decision on an intervention. The checklist used was SCOPE (Severity, Clients, Opportunity, Politics and Economics.)
The course finished off with Assessing an intervention that the (FOLIO team had decided upon) from different perspectives in our buddy groups. We looked at it from a librarian’s perspective, the economic perspective, and users perspective. Then we discussed the problems that can arise when implementing an EBLIP programme with feedback from the FOLIO team.
Was it worth it?
Overall I found the course interesting and would recommend it to others. Although I had my doubts about working in a fully virtual team at first, it worked surprisingly well, with all members ‘chipping in’ and finishing the tasks on time.
The Google Groups discussion list we set up worked well as a means of keeping in contact about course work, and I found that the FOLIO team’s website (where all course materials were held) simple to use. The course itself was interesting and although quite intensive at times, it was never boring as the variety of tasks and fast pace of the course kept it from becoming so.
I feel that the course gave me a good general introduction to EBLIP and the practical nature (working on our own question etc) helped me to get a feel of what implementing a real EBLIP programme might be like, all the stages were covered and I feel that if I was asked to take part in an EBLIP programme, I would feel more confident about it.
Link to EBLIP course homepage (this outlines the course structure and has a contacts link to find more information) :