I spent Thursday 4th and Friday 5th June 2015 in Spain as a guest of the Faculty of Library and Information Science at the University of Barcelona. Here I was one of many academics from across the world invited to join the Faculty in the celebrations of its one hundredth anniversary. These were organised around an event billed as the Third International Seminar on Library and Information Science (LIS) Education and Research (LIS-ER).
The main theme of the meeting was education and research in library and information science. The opening keynote presentation was delivered by Dr Blaise Cronin, Emeritus Professor at Indiana University, and Visiting Professor at the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University. There then followed a series of sessions on: LIS education in Europe; LIS education in America; LIS research in general; LIS academic journals; and research data. There was also an opportunity for those who contributed to a poster display to introduce their work in plenary. In this session the speakers invited delegates to visit an exhibition that displayed work on themes that ranged from open science to beach libraries for summer tourists.
My own formal contribution came on the Friday morning when I spoke about LIS research challenges from a national perspective, drawing on my experience of leading the implementation of the UK Library and Information Science Research Coalition between 2009 and 2012.
Four others spoke alongside me in the Friday morning slot. I particularly enjoyed Cristóbal Urbano’s account of an audit of LIS research in the European Union countries that he recently completed with Jordi Ardanuy. The findings of this study shed light on how LIS research is produced in the EU, the extent of research collaboration across EU countries, and the domain’s apparent research agenda. It was interesting to learn that the UK is the highest producer of LIS research output in the EU, although the rate at which it is produced has slowed since 2005. A tag cloud of keywords from the research output examined highlights the dominant themes of the domain: information systems; bibliometrics; information retrieval; and knowledge management. From this presentation I was also surprised to learn how little collaborative research is produced within the EU: just 6.1% of output in the sample for the study was published jointly by researchers from two or more EU nations.
The other highlight of the event for me was a simple, yet very effective, presentation based on a small piece of participatory observation by Dr Elke Greifeneder of the Berlin School of Library and Information Science. Elke’s paper, entitled, ‘Users? A journal has no users, it has authors!’ exposed how different groups of actors perceive the journal literature. This novel presentation raised a number of important questions about the future of journal publishing.
The conference organising committee has uploaded materials from the event to the conference web site. For a flavour of the event there is also a storify account of the two days (which happens to feature quite a few of my tweets), and a set of photos on Flickr. The video created to introduce the celebrations is also worth a peek: there are some wonderful photographs of student librarians from the early twentieth century in the footage.