Building capacity for librarian support and addressing collaboration challenges by formalizing library systematic review services




Systematic Reviews, Case Study, Librarian Collaboration, Library Services, Research Support, Health Sciences Librarians


Background: Many health sciences librarians are noticing an increase in demand for systematic review support. Developing a strategic approach to supporting systematic review activities can address commonly reported barriers and challenges including time factors, methodological issues, and supporting student-led projects.

Case Presentation: This case report describes how a health sciences library at a mid-sized university developed and implemented a structured and defined systematic review service in order to build capacity for increased librarian support and to maximize librarians’ time and expertise. The process also revealed underlying collaboration challenges related to student-led systematic reviews and research quality concerns that needed to be addressed. The steps for developing a formal service included defining the librarian’s role and a library service model, building librarian expertise, developing documentation to guide librarians and patrons, piloting and revising the service model, marketing and promoting the service, and evaluating service usage.

Conclusions: The two-tiered service model developed for advisory consultation and collaboration provides a framework for supporting systematic review activities that other libraries can adapt to meet their own needs. Librarian autonomy in deciding whether to collaborate on reviews based on defined and explicit considerations was crucial for maximizing librarians’ time and expertise and for promoting higher quality research. Monitoring service usage will be imperative for managing existing and future librarian workload. These data and tracking of research outputs from librarian collaborations may also be used to advocate for new librarian positions.

Author Biographies

Sandra McKeown, Health Sciences Librarian, Bracken Health Sciences Library, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, K7L 3N6

Health Sciences Librarian

Bracken Health Sciences Library

Amanda Ross-White, Health Sciences Librarian, Bracken Health Sciences Library, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, K7L 3N6

Health Sciences Librarian

Bracken Health Sciences Library


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Case Report