Looking at ways to cope with
professional learning in the workplace
• Regular ECR training sessions,
• Communities of Practice (COP’s)
• Workshops, seminars, conferences
• Establishing a Journal Club: A formal or informal group that
meets professionally to discuss recently published
scholarly journal articles on topics related to an academic
discipline or profession. Journal clubs are common in the
sciences and medicine, serving as vehicle for continuing
education. Applied to academic librarianship, see "A
Librarians Journal Club: A Forum for Sharing Ideas and
Experiences" by Theodore Hickman and Lisa Allen in the
October 2005 of C&RL News.
The Journal Club in practice
• Old established practice in academic circles, started in the sciences.
• 1st reported journal club in 1835 at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.
• 1st recorded medical journal club was in 1875 at McGill University, Montreal
Canada, known for its award-winning research on international level. (Afifi,Y et al.
The Journal club: a modern model for better service and training. The Obstetrician
& Gynaecologist, 2006;8:186-189) Author defines the strategy of the journal club:
“to foster deep and life-long learning so that evidence can be usefully employed,
along with experience and patients’ preferences.’
• This practice was started for students due to large quantities of published Health
Science research articles relevant to medical studies.
Library Journal Clubs
• The origin of journal clubs in academic librarianship is unclear but its usefulness
has been demonstrated in US University Libraries such as British Columbia, Florida ,
Minnesota (Science & Engineering Librarians Jnls Club); in UK university libraries
such as the Oxfordshire Librarians Club ... and lately at SA universities UCT & Wits.
• During a 2009 visit to A&M University, Texas US, it was clear to me that
librarianship in the US is much more of a ‘profession’ than in SA.
• An occupation with its core element: ‘work based upon the mastery of a
complex body of knowledge and skills’.
• A vocation in which a body of scientific knowledge is used in the service of
• Members of a profession are governed by codes of ethics and profess a
commitment to competence, integrity and morality, altruism, and the
promotion of the public good within their domain.
• Such commitments form the basis of a social contract between a
profession and society, which in return grants the profession a monopoly
over the use of its knowledge base, the right to considerable autonomy in
practice and the privilege of self-regulation.
• Professions and their members are accountable to those served and to
Cruess,SR; Johnston,S; Cruess, RL “Profession": A Working Definition for
Medical Educators . Teaching and Learning in Medicine. 2004:16:1 January, pg74 - 76
Why a journal club?
• Many advantages in sharing new knowledge and ideas.
• Library professionals do not have enough time/opportunities to discuss
issues arising from the professional literature, yet these issues impact on
• A&M University in its 2020 Vision recognizes ‘that the technology related
to the storage, access and distribution of knowledge resources has
changed as much in the last decade, as in all 550 years since the invention
of movable type’.
• A&M also recognizes that the processes by which scholars communicate
and by which the research activity is reviewed, archived and
disseminated have changed. The library has to facilitate this.
• Librarians are on the forefront of managing such resources & processes in
this ever changing environment. Professionals have to stay abreast of such
• For library professionals it is crucial to learn about new developments &
practices.... and to learn fast!
Looking at examples of Library Journal
Clubs in practice
Oxfordshire Librarians’ Journal Club aims to:
• Develop critical appraisal skills
• Increase awareness of library-related research
• Assist in the application of research to library
Although strongly Medical Library related, view a list of
published articles on Critically Appraised Topic’s (CAT’s) by
members of this journal club
The Rohrbach Librarian’s Journal Club at Kutztown
• where peripheral innovative ideas, not part of a current service, can be
disseminated for discussion
• for sharing of opinions and experiences
• for rigorous or robust communication
• for engagement in critiques of the literature and learning from the
• The Librarian’s Journal Club is a collective current awareness tool with
great merit in a library setting
• NPR show: ”Making science personal through journal clubs”
• The Rohrbach Librarian’s Journal Club mission: ‘to gather, to share, to
discuss, to problem solve, to learn and grow professionally.’
• The bonus: new ideas from a journal article in library literature may
indeed lead to new projects, to allow even more user-focus in the
A librarians journal club: A forum for sharing ideas and experiences by: T. Hickman, L. Allen
College & Research Libraries News, Vol. 66, No. 9. (October 2005), pp. 642-644.
Library Journal Club Challenges &
• At Rohrbach’s, meetings are generally well attended although it has
decreased since the initial meeting. Members report too busy schedules
• More librarian participation means a wider range of topics, each has an
own individual set of skills, professional background & unique
perspectives on librarianship, it benefits the library as a whole. The
Journal Club structure & schedule therefore needs to be re-evaluated from
time to time
• A Library Journal Club gathers professional staff for discourse above, and
moves beyond day-to-day duties, leading to a broadening understanding
• New Librarians experience the Journal Club as a non-threatening venue to
exercise a voice
• Sharing in such an open environment builds respect and understanding
• To foster further interest Rohrbach Library Journal Club considers opening
the club to all library staff, however such an act may lead to an even
wider range of interests.
RUSh: Wits Libraries Journal Club
• Monthly gatherings at set time & place, every 2nd
Friday from 9h-10h
• Informal gathering, but with a selected topic of
relevance to the library-profession, and
suggested by a RUSh-member. The article is
distributed to all members well in advance for
reading & preparation
• The article-selector chairs the meeting &
introduces the article – usually a short summary
of the topic under discussion.
• The subject is discussed informally
• The RUSh blog offers a further forum for
discussion, comments & opinion
RUSh readings & discussions from
• Is Google making us stupid? Carr, Nicholas(Chair: Cornelia Bothma)
• Milennials coming to College (Chair: Cathy Dryden)
• Business Day article re. ASSAF Report – investigating the weighting of Scholarly Books as
opposed to Scholarly articles (Chair: Diane Hillman) http://www.assaf.co.za/wp-
• Book burning and the complicity of South African librarians, 1955-19711. Archie Dick.
(Chair: Rebecca Senyolo)
• Evaluating Kindle Reading (Chair: Jenny Croll)... Reading list available
• Guest : Prof Hilton Judin. Informal discussion on New Technologies & -Tendencies of
Information -finding & -use
• Librarian Burnout. (Chair: Mark Sandham) No e-version, but can supply
• Academic Library Websites in South Africa. Mandy Wood. (Chair: Wyndom Hudson) Innovation
Journal of appropriate Librarianship and Information Work in South Africa. no 39. December
• The Power and Peril of Web 3.0. Ohler, Jason. Learning & Leading with Technology; May2010, Vol. 37 Issue 7,
p14-17, and Dunlop, Janine (Dec. 2009). Blogging by South African academic librarians: a preliminary survey.
Innovation, (39) 35-42. (Chair: Alison Chisholm)
• Technostress in the Bionic Library. 2008. Kupersmith, John. Postprints, UC Berkeley.
http://escholarship.org/uc/item/1hc8s95x (Chair: Diane Hillman)
Attendance & comparisons
• RUSh participants vary between 9 to 21 per session, with an average
• Compared to University of British Columbia Library Journal Club with
300 employees where attendance ranges from 20-50 per session, it
seems as if RUSh is on par.
• Further, BC Library Journal Club have covered the following topics:
young academic researchers, eBooks, *millennial students, *the
future of the library catalogue, selection of library material, teaching
in an academic library, citation measurements, *mobile technologies
& devices in the library, and conference reflections. (A Library Journal
Club as a Tool for Current Awareness and Open Communication:
University of British Columbia case study. Partnership 2009 4:2
• Regular communication between UCT and Wits US- Interns, re.
articles discussed at Journal Clubs.
• Promote effective blogging amongst RUSh
• Plan & publish the reading plan at least 3 months
in advance, using the RUSh blog
• Invite and promote RUSh to all Wits qaulifying
• Ensure that awareness & insights arrived at
through RUSh activities, are brought to the
attention to relevant persons, and where possible
implemented as a bonus!
• Share RUSh activities more actively in the library
profession on a wider level.
• Candidate professional- and professional librarians are
encouraged to start journal clubs at their own institutions.
If you want to communicate about a journal club, or share
your experiences, please send an e-mail
Hurry up, RUSh!