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  1. 1. An Exploration of Participatory Action Research to Extend the Role of Information Professionals in Rural Community Engagement Will Buck ( Masters Candidate, School of Information Sciences University of Tennessee Bharat Mehra (, Graduate Research Advisor Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences University of Tennessee
  2. 2. ❖ Rural Library Professionals as Change Agents in the 21st Century: Integrating Information Technology Competencies in the Southern and Central Appalachian Region (Part II) (ITRL2) ($478,258). Institute of Museum and Library Services, Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, October 2012 – September 2015 (One year no-cost extension till September 2016). (PI: B. Mehra, Co-PI: V. Singh). URL: available-itrl2. ❖ I will reflect on my experience working on the Information Technology and Rural Librarian Masters Program, Phase II (ITRL2) with Dr. Bharat Mehra in exploring a Participatory Action Research (PAR) model to extend the role of information professionals in rural communities. ❖ I will examine five community-based domains where PAR can play a role and explore a potential model for strategic rural community engagement for researchers and community advocates to apply in their rural libraries and communities. ❖ I will examine my how work in ITRL2 is informing the development of my educational and professional journey and my continued research in community development and community empowerment. Buck@TLA—2016 Agenda
  3. 3. ❖ PAR encompasses a wide variety of research involving: ❖ a collective commitment to investigate an issue or problem. ❖ a desire to engage in self- and collective reflection to gain clarity about the issue. ❖ a joint decision to engage in individual and collective action that leads to a useful solution that benefits the people involved. ❖ the building of alliances between researchers and participants in the planning, implementation, and dissemination of the research process. (McIntyre, 2008) ❖ PAR incorporates an awareness of the inherent power dynamics of the research process and seeks to empower participants in order to foster genuine participation for social change (Etowa et al, 2007). Buck@TLA—2016 What is Participatory Action Research?
  4. 4. Kemmis & McTaggart’s (2000) Action Research Spiral Buck@TLA—2016 What is Participatory Action Research?  PAR utilizes the Action Research Spiral and incorporates these steps collaboratively by co- participants in the research process. (Kemmis & McTaggart, 2000).
  5. 5. Why PAR for the Rural Librarian? ❖ PAR is characterized by decentralization, deregulation, cooperation, and community empowerment (Mehra, 2006). ❖ PAR empowers participants by demystifying the research process and providing opportunities for people to engage in ongoing processes of action and change (McIntyre, 2008). ❖ Rural library services are in relatively high demand, providing a hub of social activity and access to community resources that provide opportunities for accessing local expertise and collaborative potential (Smith, 2014). ❖ Strategic collaboration with domain-specific partners can improve sustainability for emancipatory change (Silbert & Bitso, 2015). ❖ PAR offers a framework to engage community members and create innovative ways to extend the service role of information professionals (Moroni, 2011). Buck@TLA—2016
  6. 6. Buck@TLA—2016  Kamali, B. (2007). Critical reflections on participatory action research for rural development in Iran. Action Research 5(2): 103-122. DOI:10.1177/1476750307077323  Researchers designed a forum to improve communication between state development workers, rural male extension workers, and rural female extension workers employed by the Ministry of Jihad for Agriculture (MJA). This forum was aimed to increase their knowledge and understanding of participatory forms of communication and their gender awareness and sensitivity.  Service roles of the information provider  Community Advocate  Government Service Provider  Agricultural Extension Facilitator PAR in Specific Domains: Rural Agriculture
  7. 7. Buck@TLA—2016  Ku, B. H. (2011) ‘Happiness being like a blooming flower’: An action research of rural social work in an ethnic minority community of Yunnan Province, PRC. Action Research 9(4): 344- 369. DOI:10.1177/1476750311402227  Researchers in Yunnan Province, China developed community workshops to preserve and develop indigenous cultural artifacts and market those cultural products to wider audiences, thus creating a niche market that benefitted the minority producers.  Service roles of the information provider  Community Facilitator  Government Service Provider  Information/Technology Literacy Advocate PAR in Specific Domains: Rural Business
  8. 8. Buck@TLA—2016  Vaughn, M., Parsons, S. A., Kologi, S., & Saul, M. (2014). Action research as a reflective tool: A multiple case study of eight rural educators’ understandings of instructional practice. Reflective Practice, 15(5), 634-650. doi:10.1080/14623943.2014.900030  Qualitative data in the form of interviews, focus groups, blog entries, reflection journals and instructional artifacts were collected and analyzed to learn how teachers characterize their service roles and to determine teacher’s rationales for conducting their own action research projects.  Service roles of the information provider  Teacher-researcher  Language literacy advocate  Empowered professional PAR in Specific Domains: Rural Education
  9. 9. Buck@TLA—2016  Rammelt, C. (2013). Participatory Action Research in Marginalized Communities: Safe Drinking Water in Rural Bangladesh. Springer. DOI: 10.1007/s11213-013-9280-1  The Arsenic Mitigation and Research Foundation (AMRF), a partnership between Dutch and Bangladeshi academics and NGO practitioners, set out to establish safe drinking water supplies and health care schemes in several arsenic-affected aquifer communities, and used a wide variety of quantitative and qualitative methodologies to record and report on the findings.  Service roles of the information provider  Community advocate  Government services provider PAR in Specific Domains: Rural Environmentalism
  10. 10. Buck@TLA—2016  Campbell, B. (2010). Applying knowledge to generate action: A community-based knowledge translation framework. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions 30(1): 65-71.  PAR was used to generate a rural community’s knowledge of their children’s health and led to the creation of a more current knowledge- to-action (KTA) conceptual framework which provided the rationale for the graphical depiction of engagement of a rural community in knowledge translation.  Service roles of the information provider  Health literacy advocate  Public health advocate/guardian PAR in Specific Domains: Rural Public Health
  11. 11. Buck@TLA—2016 Implications for PAR in Specific Domains ❖A Model for Strategic Rural Community Engagement will: ❖include an assessment of institutional strengths and weaknesses. ❖identify a specific community-based domain for the desired rural action. ❖highlight challenges specific to the relevant community-based domain. ❖identify categories of potential partners whose strengths may offset institutional weaknesses and specific domain challenges.
  12. 12. The purpose of the ITRL2 Masters Program is to recruit thirteen para-professionals working in rural libraries in the Southern and Central Appalachian (SCA) regions to complete their masters degree with a focus on outcomes in both information technology and rural librarianship in the UT SIS program via distance education. Buck@TLA—2016 Information Technology Rural Librarian Master’s Program, Phase II (ITRL2)
  13. 13. ❖ Outcomes from courses in information technology: ❖ Technology planning, assessment, and analysis ❖ Anjanae Brueland created a system-wide technology inventory for the Sevier County Public Library System in Tennessee. ❖ Database and web design, development, and usability ❖ Rebecca Baker gained skills to perform a technology assessment to redesign the library website at Blount Country Public Library in Maryville, TN. ❖ Building digital library, web portals, and Library 2.0 tools ❖ Rebecca Tedesco created a Crowdsourcing Web Mapping Application to include user-generated content for the Cleveland State Community College Library in Cleveland, Tennessee. Buck@TLA—2016 Information Technology Rural Librarian Master’s Program, Phase II (ITRL2)
  14. 14. ❖ Outcomes from courses in library management ❖ Service evaluation/assessment in rural libraries ❖ Amanda Aubrey conducted a case study that analyzed strengths and weaknesses of the E.W. King Library in Bristol, TN and the Cleveland State Community College Library in Cleveland, TN. ❖ Planning/management of rural library program for youth and adults ❖ Ryan Congdon evaluated the function of services and established a facilities design for adult services at Rockbridge Regional Library in Lexington, VA. ❖ Grant writing and partnership development ❖ Mary Rayme developed a collection list for juvenile minority readers at Pioneer Memorial Public Library in Harmon, West Virginia, and secured a $5,000 grant from the Laura Bush Foundation to fund the entire collection Buck@TLA—2016 Information Technology Rural Librarian Master’s Program, Phase II (ITRL2)
  15. 15. ITRL2: PAR for the Rural Library Community ❖ PAR engages and empowers members of the rural community. ❖ PAR allows participants to become agents of emancipatory change in their local community. ❖ PAR provides tangible products and outcomes through community action. ❖ PAR promotes active and continuing participation in community development. Buck@TLA—2016
  16. 16. Buck@TLA—2016 Exploring community-based domains in ITRL2 research has provided: ❖the discovery of a need to explore specific domains of PAR applications in my own research. ❖the initial development of a Model for Strategic Rural Community Engagement to be applied further in one domain of analysis in my current research. ❖the potential for PAR to serve as a valid construct to inform my future research in community development and community empowerment. Insights informing the Development of my Educational and Professional Journey
  17. 17. Questions and Comments? Thank You! Buck@TLA—2016