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McGill Library Journal Club

Background Statement

Lorie Kloda

McGill University

April 2010


Many academic libraries in Canada and elsewhere have instituted journal clubs, similar to those offered in health and science departments, in order to keep abreast of the research literature, and to maintain an open dialogue in the institution about ongoing research and practice of interest.


The goals of the journal club at McGill Libraries are:


  • To integrate research into practice by using publications to assist in decision-making;
  • To foster critical thinking when reading published research;
  • To promote research relevant to McGill Library, the university community, and the profession;
  • To create a collaborative environment for learning, professional development, and documenting best practice.


The structure of the journal club is a monthly one to two hour meeting, where interested librarians and staff can attend to discuss one or more research articles that address a specific question of interest to the group. The question and relevant article(s) would be selected in advance of the meeting so that all potential participants will have had time to read and appraise it.


Meetings are facilitated by a librarian or staff member who will lead the discussion with questions, and ensure that all present have a chance to participate. During the meeting, the publication selected will be critically appraised for validity and reliability, and participants will reflect on the research’s relevance to the original question (i.e., its applicability to McGill Libraries).


Research in library and information practice falls into six domains (Koufogiannakis, Slater, & Crumley, 2004): reference, collections, education, professional issues, management, and information storage and retrieval. Journal club topics can alternate among these domains, touching on various areas of interest to all librarians and staff working in various disciplines (e.g., social sciences, management, arts and humanities, sciences).


Examples of journal clubs for libraries (Barsky, 2009; Doney & Stanton, 2003; Koufogiannakis, Dorgan & Crumley, 2003; Pearce-Smith, 2006) demonstrate that they are useful for informing practice, and well-attended. The journal club’s meetings are driven by real questions that arise for McGill librarians and Library staff at work, and the meetings evaluate research for helping answer these questions, which will in turn lead to better decision-making and the implementation of best practices.


As the Associate Editor for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, Lorie has advocated for more criticism and reflection of the library and information studies literature by librarians in order to inform practice (Kloda, 2009). A journal club for McGill librarians will help accomplish this, and provide a professional development opportunity for all those interested.



Barsky, E. (2009). A library journal club as a tool for current awareness and open communication: University of British Columbia case study. Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 4(2).


Doney, L., & Stanton, W. (2003). Facilitating evidence-based librarianship: A UK experience. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 20(s1), 76-78.


Grant, M. (2003). Journal clubs for continued professional development. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 20(s1), 72-73.


Kloda, L.A. (2009). Being a critical professional: The importance of post‐publication peer review in evidence based library and information practice. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 4(3), 72-74.


Koufogiannakis, D., Dorgan, M., & Crumley, E. (2003). Facilitating evidence-based librarianship: A Canadian experience. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 20(s1), 73-75.


Koufogiannakis, D., Slater, L., & Crumley, E. (2004). A Content Analysis of Librarianship Research. Journal of Information Science, 30, 227-239.


Pearce-Smith, N. (2006). A journal club is an effective tool for assisting librarians in the practice of evidence-based librarianship: A case study. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 23(1), 32-40.


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