Research in Library and Information Science provided an overview and application of the social science methodologies involved in quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research. The coursework explored the qualitative, grounded theory of B. Glaser and A. Strauss (Birks, M. & Mills, J., 2011), and introduced students to ethnographic field work, including structured analysis. The class also covered focus groups, questionnaire methodologies, interview techniques, sampling, and content analysis. Additionally, students learned about the reliability and validity of various methods, as well as the serious ethical responsibilities in conducting individual or institutional research.
The literature review was a group project that combined my own work and that of my colleagues April Dain, Ian Pollock, and Kathy Street. Together we pored over a vast array of available United States based peer-reviewed library literature on the topic of providing library services to the poor. Our literature review focuses primarily on public libraries with a secondary emphasis on school libraries. The literature review provided strong lessons in how to reach team consensus and conduct research on a pertinent topic. It taught us how to utilize a team dynamic to divide up research, writing, editing and presentation tasks, as well as how to apply the theories of quantitative and qualitative methodologies to our work. As a group we learned to critique and evaluate literature and findings on our topic of library service to the poor. Not only did we grapple with the ethics of the research process but also with ethics dilemmas inherent in addressing the issues of the underserved.
Birks, M. & Mills, J. (2011). Grounded theory: A practical guide. Los Angeles: Sage.