Evidence-based library and information practice

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Evidence-based library and information practice (EBLIP) or evidence-based librarianship (EBL) is the use of evidence-based practices (EBP) in the field of library and information science (LIS). This means that all practical decisions made within LIS should 1) be based on research studies and 2) that these research studies are selected and interpreted according to some specific norms characteristic for EBP. Typically such norms disregard theoretical studies and qualitative studies and consider quantitative studies according to a narrow set of criteria of what counts as evidence. If such a narrow set of methodological criteria are not applied, it is better instead to speak of research based library and information practice. [1]


Evidence-based practice in general has been characterised as a positivist approach;[1] EBLIP is therefore also a positivist approach to LIS.[2] As such, EBLIP is an approach in contrast to other approaches to LIS. The use of statistical approaches known as meta-analysis to conclude what evidence has been reported in the literature is one among other methods which is typical for the evidence-based approach.

In 2002, Booth noted the three schools of EBILP had some commonalities, including the context of day-to-day decision-making, an emphasis on improving the quality of professional practice, a pragmatic focus on the 'best available evidence', incorporation of the user perspective, the acceptance of a broad range of quantitative and qualitative research designs, and access, either first-hand or second-hand, to the (process of) evidence-based practice and its products. He added one more, that EBILP is concerned with getting the best value for money.[3]

The role of library and information science in EBP[edit]

Evidence-based practice in general is based on a very thorough search of the scientific literature and a very thorough selection and analysis of the retrieved literature. A close familiarity with database searching is needed, and library and information professionals have important roles to play in this respect. Therefore LIS professionals should be well suited to help professionals in other disciplines doing EBP. EBLIP is the application of this approach on LIS itself. It should be mentioned, however, that EBP started in medicine as evidence-based medicine (EBM) from which it spread to other fields. Only slowly and to a limited extent has EBP moved on to LIS. The EBLIP process can be applied to a variety of scenarios in LIS, including customer service,[4] collection development,[5] library management[6] and information literacy instruction.[7] In general, quantitative methods are used in LIS research.[8]

A 2010 study revealed that professionals experienced evidence-based practice as variously: not relevant; learning from published research; service improvement; a way of being and as a weapon.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hjørland, Birger (2011). Evidence based practice: An analysis based on the philosophy of science. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(7), 1301–1310.
  2. ^ Hjørland, B. (2005). Empiricism, rationalism and positivism in library and information science. Journal of Documentation, 61(1), 130-155.
  3. ^ Booth, Andrew (March 2002). "From EBM to EBL: Two Steps Forward or One Step Back?". Medical Reference Services Quarterly. 21 (3): 51–64. doi:10.1300/J115v21n03_04. PMID 12238016.
  4. ^ Abbott, Wendy (2006). "Persuasive Evidence: Improving Customer Service through Evidence Based Librarianship". Evidence Based Library and Information Practice. 1 (1): 58–68. doi:10.18438/B8H59J.
  5. ^ Eldredge, Jonathan (2006). "Evidence-based librarianship: The EBL process". Evidence-based Librarianship. 24 (3): 341–354.
  6. ^ Greenwood, Helen; Cleeve, Marigold (2008). "Embracing change: evidence-based management in action". Library Management. 29 (3): 173–184. doi:10.1108/01435120810855304.
  7. ^ Gross, Melissa; Latham, Don; Armstrong, Bonnie (2012). "Improving below-proficient information literacy skills: designing an evidence-based educational intervention". College Teaching. 60 (3): 104–111. doi:10.1080/87567555.2011.645257.
  8. ^ VanScoy, Amy; Fontana, Cady (April 2016). "How reference and information service is studied: Research approaches and methods". Library & Information Science Research. 38 (2): 94–100. doi:10.1016/j.lisr.2016.04.002.
  9. ^ https://eprints.qut.edu.au/32798/1/PIL_21_Ch13_201004.pdf

Further reading[edit]

  • Booth, A. & Brice, A. (Eds.) (2004). Evidence-Based Practice for Information Professionals: A Handbook. London: Facet Publishing.
  • Burrows, S.C. & Tylman, V. (1999). Evaluating medical student searches of MEDLINE for evidence-based information: process and application of results. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, 87(4), pp. 471–476.
  • Dalrymple, Prudence W. (2010) Evidence-Based Practice, Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, Third Edition, Vol. III, 1790-1796.
  • Eldredge J.D. (2000). Evidence-based librarianship: an overview. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, 88(4), pp. 289–302. PMC 35250
  • Eldredge J. (2002). Cohort studies in health sciences librarianship. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 90(4), pp. 380–392.
  • Kloda, LA; Koufogiannakis, D. & Mallan, K. (2011). Transferring evidence into practice: what evidence summaries of library and information studies research tell practitioners. Information Research, 2011, V 16, N1 (MAR), Article Number: 465.
  • Koufogiannakis, Denise; Brettle, Alison, eds. (2016). Being evidence based in library and information practice. London, UK: Facet Publishing. ISBN 9781783300716.
  • Lewis, S. (2011). Evidence based library and information practice in Australia: defining skills and knowledge. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 2011, V 28, N2 (JUN), pp. 152–155.
  • Urquhart, C. (2010). Systematic reviewing, meta-analysis and meta-synthesis for evidence-based library and information science. Information Research, 15(3,S), Article Number: colis708.