Reflective practice and health sciences librarians: engagement, benefits, and barriers




Reflective Practice, Reflective Writing, Reflection, Medical Librarians, Health Sciences Librarians, Practice Improvement


Objective: Reflective practice is common in nursing and other professions. In the published literature, there is very little about librarians’ use of reflective practice and no studies of health librarians’ use of reflective practice. This study examined the use of reflective practice among health sciences librarians, perceived benefits, and perceived barriers to use.

Methods: This cross-sectional study replicated the 2014 study by Greenall and Sen, using a version of their questionnaire. The research population in this study was health sciences librarians who were members of the MEDLIB-L email discussion list, Medical Library Association (MLA) chapter email discussion lists, and/or MLA section email discussion lists.

Results: There were 106 librarians who completed the questionnaire, ranging from those new to the profession through midcareer to longtime librarians. While a high percentage of respondents considered themselves to be reflective practitioners (77%), a larger percentage (87%) reported that they consciously spent time reflecting. Respondents selected a wide variety of benefits of reflective practice, while barriers tended to center on lack of time, knowledge, skills, or experience.

Conclusion: The diversity of benefits that respondents selected suggests that reflective practice can play an important positive role in librarians’ professional development. Reported barriers to reflective practice suggest that there is a need for educational opportunities to develop skills.

 This article has been approved for the Medical Library Association’s Independent Reading Program.


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Original Investigation