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Toward the Development of a Framework for Research Collaboration Between Public Libraries and Post-Secondary Institutions

As the researcher-in-residence at Hamilton Public Library (HPL), Post-Doctoral Fellow Kaitlin Wynia will be seeking to both understand the research questions and needs of public libraries and how universities can help answer these questions and address these needs. Likewise, Kaitlin will be helping to facilitate research partnerships between McMaster and HPL. This position is a joint initiative between McMaster University and HPL that is built on the premise that public libraries and universities can benefit greatly by partnering to conduct research. To ensure the sustainability and impact of these partnerships, they need to be grounded in an awareness of each organizations’ research needs, goals, resources, and strengths.

This project will produce a framework that guides public libraries in identifying research needs, strategically selecting university partners, and developing research plans that address each organizations’ roles and responsibilities. While frameworks for community-university partnerships exist, none are tailored to the unique context of public library-university research collaborations. To build such a framework, this project will entail a systematic synthesis of literature relevant to supporting strong university-community partnerships, participant observation of HPL’s research culture, and a survey of the research needs and practices at HPL and three other public library systems in Western, Central, and Atlantic Canada.