CSL Research Committee
The mandate of Canadian School Libraries is to support research and education about school library learning commons practice in Canada. The new CSL Research Toolkit is integral to fulfilling this mission.
Lack of “made in Canada” research about the school library program and its impact on learning has been a serious and ongoing concern for decades. The Treasure Mountain Canada (TMC) Research Symposium and Think Tank, established in 2010, was created to address this concern, serving as an incubator for research into school library practice. Now a part of Canadian School Libraries, the first five symposia collectively have generated over one hundred action research and academic papers. CSL has made that body of research accessible and searchable through the CSL Research Archive.
Over the years, many TMC participants and potential participants have expressed a compelling need for resources and guidance into how to conduct valid research. Intimidated by the prospect, some have been hesitant to participate, and we have lost their valuable insight. Responding to that concern, CSL created the Research Toolkit one year prior to the TMC6 Symposium 2020, confident that it will help build competence and confidence as school library practitioners explore their own practice through research.
Practitioner action research has become increasingly important to understanding what really works in education, and many teacher-librarians are already engaged in this process. Nevertheless, what frequently happens when a new idea is implemented in the school library is that there is no real plan to assess its success or for reporting and sharing what was learned. We are great at collecting anecdotes and informal observations, but rarely take the next step of organizing the collection of this data.
There are many reasons for this, including lack of knowledge about the research process. That is where the CSL Research Toolkit can help! Practitioner research is key to moving practice forward and in increasing understanding of and confidence in the role of the library in education.
Your Research Guide
The toolkit’s sections provide a comprehensive and understandable overview of the research process and techniques:
- Introduction: Assessing Outcomes and Impacts
- Research Approaches: Understanding different research approaches as they vary in terms of purpose, size and methodology, and where practitioner action research fits.
- Research Stages: All research, no matter the size or purpose of the study, includes specific stages.
- Research Methods: Choosing the best method for your research purpose is the key to success.
- Research Ethics: Because research involves human interaction, it is very important to follow ethical guidelines.
- Data Analysis: Analyzing your research data must be done methodically and consistently in order to draw valid conclusions.
- Sharing & Learning: Action research informs your own future practice. Sharing what you have learned amplifies its impact.
- Additional Resources: Resources to inform your own research and deepen your knowledge of effective methodology.
- Getting Started: Ideas to inspire practitioner research and the integration of research into practice in the school library learning commons.
We encourage you to take that first step and consider where research fits into your own practice. Please explore the CSL Research Toolkit for inspiration!
The CSL Research Toolkit was created by the Canadian School Libraries Research Committee. The committee’s work also includes the ongoing development of the CSL Research Archive and supporting the work of Treasure Mountain Canada (TMC).
CSL Research Committee
Anita Brooks Kirkland, Chair, Canadian School Libraries
Marc d’Avernas, Library Systems Administrator, Waterloo Region DSB, Ontario
Caroline Freibauer, Teacher-Librarian, Assumption College, Brantford, Ontario
Judith Sykes, CSL Director and retired School Library Manager, Alberta Ministry of Education