Editorial: selected papers from RAILS: Research Applications, Information and Library Studies 2018
Steve Wright, RAILS 2018 Conference Chair, and Amanda Cossham, Regional Editor, Information Research.
We are pleased to present a selection of the papers from the 2018 Australasian Conference on Research Applications in Information and Library Studies (RAILS). Held at the Caulfield campus of Monash University from 28 to 30 November, the theme of the gathering was Engaging Research: Collaboration and Community. Many of today’s societal and economic challenges require research and teaching efforts across disciplinary boundaries; this calls for new approaches and questions within information and library studies & archival science. Collaboration within the field as well as with user communities are important for the continuing relevance and strength of the wider information disciplines.
As in recent years, the 2018 conference also encompassed a doctoral symposium, as well the Australasian Information Educators’ Symposium. The conference with its more than forty papers provided a useful and timely forum to reflect upon the state of library and information studies research today, as well as an opportunity to catch up with or to meet other researchers from Australasia and beyond.
Along with the papers and panels that are a staple of conferences, RAILS 2018 was notable for two excellent keynote addresses. The first was provided by Christine Mackenzie, who is well-known in the Australasian public library field. As the President-elect of International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), Christine spoke on ‘IFLA’s Global Vision: opportunities for working together with educators and researchers’. In doing so, she highlighted a number of innovative projects in which librarians had collaborated with researchers from universities and elsewhere, while asking those present to consider the relationship between practice and research & between practitioners and researchers. The second keynote was delivered by Kirsten Thorpe & dealt with ‘Indigenous voice & representation in libraries and archives: reflections on building ethical community research & practice’. Drawing upon her experience as a professional archivist working with and in communities to establish Indigenous perspectives at the heart of information management, Kirsten likewise challenged those present to ponder not only the relationship between practice and research, but the very purpose of each. Many of the issues Kristen raised can be read in her article ‘Transformative praxis: building spaces for indigenous self-determination in libraries and archives’.
Each of the thirteen papers that form this supplement exemplifies, in its own way, the 2018 conference theme of “engaging research”, understood variously as research that engages with different communities and across the discipline broadly, as well as research that is engaging of the audience’s attention and research practices that require engagement. A number of the papers directly address different practices bound up with librarianship, recordkeeping & archival work, along with the learning associated with each of these professions. Others explore the place of information, knowledge and learning beyond the traditional fields of information management, whether in other professions and organisations, the realm of media, whether ‘social’ or traditional. Several exemplify research approaches that require the engagement of the participants as integral contributors to the research. Four of the papers were presented as part of the Australasian Information Educators’ Symposium: those by Gallagher and Olsson; Wong, Bruce and Maybee; Khatamian Far; and Khan and Qayyam.
Taken together, the papers illustrate the various ways in which research in library and information studies engages with user communities and engages across the different professions that constitute this discipline. They also provide a snapshot of library and information studies research across Australasia.
This is not the first time that Information Research has included a supplement of papers from RAILS. The journal published a similar supplement, based on presentations from the 12th RAILS gathering, convened at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand in December 2016
In conclusion, we would like to thank everyone who submitted papers to the conference and to this supplement, along with the more than a dozen colleagues who served on the organising committee, another dozen or so who reviewed submissions as part of the program committee & the postgraduate students who helped out in and around the sessions. We would also like to thank those who reviewed the submitted papers and the copyeditors of Information Research.
About the authors
Steve Wright is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University & Chair of the 2018 RAILS conference. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Amanda Cossham is a principal lecturer, Information and Library Studies, at the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand Kuratini Tuwhera & the Regional Editor, Australasia and South-East Asia, Information Research. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org