From the Ground Up: Building a Culture of Research in an Academic Library




Academic Libraries, Research Culture, Professional Development


Background: This article discusses the motivations, benefits, and actions taken to create and support a culture of research among library employees at a Carnegie Research 1 University Library system. Despite substantial pressures to publish and engage in library science research, many academic librarians lack the training or support to build their own research agendas. This is particularly worrisome as tenure requirements and professional trends require librarians to be knowledgeable and productive in their research dissemination.


Experience: At Clemson University Libraries, librarians responded to this problem by adapting evidence-based solutions from scientific and medical disciplines to fit their own research empowerment needs. The process of building a productive culture of research at Clemson Libraries was a multi-year endeavor that took considerable initiative, planning, and flexibility.


Discussion: Each of the initiatives required adaptation to the knowledge levels and existing culture in the Libraries. Organizers had to be willing to make changes and attempt new approaches as the organization evolved and comfort with the research process grew. Some initiatives, like Writing Circle, were disbanded, while others, like Journal Club and Research Roundtable, continue to develop with high levels of engagement.


Takeaways: The success of this progressive approach to fostering a thriving culture of research at Clemson Libraries is evident through the rates of participation, dissemination, and satisfaction of library employees in addition to the expansion of the Libraries’ engagement with research in outside departments and disciplines. Librarians who seek to enhance their own institution’s research culture should consider implementing some or all of these initiatives to jumpstart their efforts, including writing circles, journal clubs, and research roundtables.

Author Biographies

Jenessa McElfresh, University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Systematic Review Service Coordinator, Senior Research & Learning Services Librarian, Associate Professor 

Health Sciences Library

University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Memphis, TN

Maggie Albro, Clemson University

Science Librarian, Assistant Librarian

University Libraries

Clemson University

Clemson, SC

K. Megan Sheffield, Clemson University

Data Services Librarian, Associate Librarian

University Libraries

Clemson University

Clemson, SC


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How to Cite

McElfresh, J., Albro, M., & Sheffield, K. M. (2022). From the Ground Up: Building a Culture of Research in an Academic Library. Hypothesis: Research Journal for Health Information Professionals, 34(1).



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