The Realities of Relevance: A Survey of Librarians' Use of Library and Information Science Research
This article grew out the authors' desire to explore the widely held notion that librarians disregard LIS research because they consider it irrelevant. For example, in the early stages of this project one colleague commented that librarianship "is all practice" and that LIS research has had no effect upon his own work. Editors of many LIS journals also question whether research exerts influence on practice. Peter Hernon and Candy Schwartz, editors of Library and Information Science Research, lament that “research has not penetrated the soul” of the library profession, and William Katz, former editor of Research Quarterly, notes that many authors have failed to show the implications of their research for practice. A survey of LIS scholars revealed that many researchers themselves doubt whether their findings affect practice. While many authors within the profession have thus agreed upon the existence of a research-practice gap in librarianship, they differ in regards to the gap's causes. Some authors blame researchers; some blame practitioners; and some attribute the breakdown to deficiencies in LIS education or dissemination channels. This article examines the research-practice gap by discussing the results of a recent survey that measured the use of LIS research among Alabama’s academic reference librarians.