Graduates of the SLIM Master of Library science degree program will be able to:
Evaluate, critique, and discuss new research in the field; assess library or information problems and identify an appropriate research method.
Because a librarian must be well-read and must be well-aware of the latest trends in her field, it is essential that she also be well-versed in how to navigate a wide range of literature reviews on a variety of topics. Writing my own literature review allowed me to research a topic of interest, organize the information I found, and synthesize it into a coherent whole.
To complete the literature review process, I went through five steps. The first step I took was to select a topic. Because this assignment was for LI804: Organization of Information, I was required to choose a topic that either focused on a specific method, system, rule, or large-scale organization. I have always been fascinated by how libraries are organized and how my experience at a library is often quite different from my experience at a bookstore. Both buildings obviously contain books, and even though at one place, the visitor borrows books and at the other she buys books, they still must be organized so that the visitors can find the materials they are looking for. Thus, I thought it would be interesting to research the available literature on organizing the library according to the bookstore model. The second step was to create an annotated bibliography in which I took notes on the literature published on my topic and wrote a summary of the literature’s content and its value for my review. Third, I identified themes and patterns in the literature I read to narrow the focus for my own literature review. Fourth, I drafted my literature review and turned it into my professor for feedback. Then, fifth and finally, I revised my draft for the final literature review on organizing the library according to the bookstore model.
A literature review does not create new knowledge but seeks to organize the research that has already been conducted in the field and observe what is missing by finding gaps in the reviews. Essentially, a literature review is repackaging knowledge and applying a new worldview to ultimately decide what further avenues of research a particular topic needs in order to exhaust that field of study, at least for that period of time in history.
Writing my own literature review proved to be an extremely valuable experience. The various steps of the process re-familiarized me with the steps information seekers of all ages must take in order to complete either required academic or optional recreational research. Essentially, I went through the six stages of Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process Model because I experienced anxiety and doubt at the beginning of my research, wondering if I would be able to find good literature on my topic and successfully complete the assignment. But then, once I found a clear focus, I relaxed and was able to organize the information I found in a meaningful way. The students that I will be working with in the high school library setting will experience anxiety throughout the research process, and most likely, most of them will not even be as motivated as I was to succeed on the project. Therefore, as a librarian, I can empathize with their negative and doubting feelings and help motivate them to push through to find the information they need.