Professor Briony Birdi (she/her)
BA (Hull), MA (Sheffield), PhD (Sheffield), MCLIP
Head of School & Professor of Library and Information Science
+44 114 222 2653
Full contact details
2 Whitham Road
After completing a modern languages degree at Hull University in 1995, I worked for a year as a Graduate Trainee for the Taylor Institute at Oxford University. This led to a place on the MA in Librarianship here at Sheffield University, after which I became a Marketing Manager for Waterstone’s (previously Dillons) booksellers (1997-9), where I worked with booksellers, publishers and public librarians to promote books and reading to younger and adult readers. I then moved to the Centre for Information Research, Birmingham City University where, as a Research Fellow, I worked on a wide range of reading and literacy-related projects (1999-2002). I returned to Sheffield in 2002 as a Research Associate in the Centre for the Public Library and Information in Society, based in the Department of Information Studies (now the Information School), and in 2003 I obtained an academic post in the same department. Between 2009-2021 I worked at the University on a part-time basis, balancing an academic career and a family life.
- Head of School
- Research interests
My research interests and experience are broadly focused in the following areas:
- Public library services
- Library services for children and young people
- Social justice
- Reading research and the promotion of literature and reading.
More specifically, my work relates to the social, political and educational roles of public and youth libraries in society, with a particular focus on diversity, social justice and reading. I would be interested in supervising PhD projects related to any of these areas.
Since 1999 I have initiated and been involved in a wide range of research and evaluation projects, varying in length from 3 months to 3 years. These have been funded by a wide range of organisations, including the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (national and regional), the British Council, the Learning and Skills Council, DCMS/Wolfson Public Libraries Challenge fund, the former Library and Information Commission, the former British National Bibliography Research fund, Opening the Book Ltd., The Reading Agency, The Arts Councils of England and Wales, local authorities (individual and consortia).
I was awarded the Runner Up prize in the 2016 iSchools Doctoral Dissertation award, and I was the first academic recipient outside North America: https://ischools.org/Dissertation-Award-Past-Winners
I have a particular interest in the dissemination of research and in turning research into practice, and I have varied experience of teaching, training and consultancy. My research is regularly disseminated through my teaching on the MA in Librarianship and MA LISM programmes, and to the wider profession via publications in peer-reviewed and professional journals.
I am a member of the Libraries and Information Society Research Group.
- The role of information in the migration experience of young Polish women in the UK. Journal of Documentation, 76(4), 849-868. View this article in WRRO
- Investigating the public response to local government decisions to reduce or remove public library services. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 52(1), 40-53. View this article in WRRO
- The concept of neutrality: a new approach. Journal of Documentation, 76(1), 333-353. View this article in WRRO
- Towards a new sociological model of fiction reading. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 69(11), 1291-1303. View this article in WRRO
- Interlending and resource sharing in UK public libraries: A mixed methods study. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 50(2), 168-185. View this article in WRRO
- “Here to Support Anybody Who Needs to Come?” An Investigation of the Provision for EAL Pupils in Secondary School Libraries in England. The New Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship, 23(1), 70-93. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO The supply, promotion and readership of minority ethnic English language fiction in the UK: a review of the literature. Knjižnica : Revija za Področje Bibliotekarstva in Informacijske Znanosti, 60(2-3), 165-190.
- View this article in WRRO Interlending in UK public libraries: mapping the current and future landscape. CILIP Update, July/August 2016, 43-45.
- View this article in WRRO “It’s Woefully Inadequate”: Collections of LGBTQ* Fiction for Teens in English Public Library Services. The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, 7(1), 1-29.
- Genre fiction readers: a quantitative exploration of provided construct ratings. Journal of Documentation, 70(6), 1054-1075. View this article in WRRO
- Genre fiction readers: A quantitative exploration of provided construct ratings. Journal of Documentation, 70(6), 1054-1075.
- 'What we should strive for is Britishness': An attitudinal investigation of ethnic diversity and the public library. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 44(2), 118-128. View this article in WRRO
- Compelling account of the role and contribution of the public library service. CILIP Update, 28-28.
- Exploring reader response to minority ethnic fiction. Library Review, 60(9), 816-831. View this article in WRRO
- Investigating fiction reader characteristics using personal construct theory. Aslib Proceedings, 63(2-3), 275-294. View this article in WRRO
- The nature and role of empathy in public librarianship. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 41(2), 81-89. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO The public library, exclusion and empathy: a literature review. Library Review, 57(8), 576-592.
- View this article in WRRO How ethical are we?. Public Library Journal, 23(1), 12-15.
- View this article in WRRO Public libraries and social inclusion: how empathic are we?. Library and Information Update, 7(6), 32-34.
- View this article in WRRO Fiction for all. Public Library Journal, 23(1), 8-11.
- Breaking down barriers. Public Library Journal, 22(1), 8-12.
- View this article in WRRO 'C' stands for Continuing. Public Library Journal, 22(4), 4-4.
- View this article in WRRO Research on family reading: an international perspective. Library Review, 56(4), 292-298.
- Business information service delivery within a regional context – the role of public libraries. Business Information Review, 23(1), 50-57.
- View this article in WRRO Business information service delivery within a regional context: the role of public libraries. Business Information Review, 23(1), 50-57.
- View this article in WRRO The lifelong impact of lifelong learning: using qualitative evaluation to measure the less tangible outcomes of adult basic skills education. The Journal of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 8(1), 1-13.
- View this article in WRRO Marketing library services to children and young people: the role of schools library services. New Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship, 12(2), 147-161.
- View this article in WRRO Give me a break: championing the development of reader-centred initiatives. Public Library Journal, 20(2), 22-25.
- View this article in WRRO The Thanet Back to Basics project. Basic Skills Bulletin(21), 7-7.
- What do you like to read?. Update, 2(11), 44-46.
- Evaluating 'The Vital Link'. Basic Skills Bulletin(12), 8-8.
- Building up or breaking down barriers? The role of the library in adult basic skills education. Library Review, 52(8), 394-402. View this article in WRRO
- Widening choices: the reader-centred approach. Literature Matters(31), 8-9.
- Promoting reading through partnerships: a ten-year literature overview. New Library World, 103(4/5), 131-140. View this article in WRRO
- Branching Out. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 33(2), 68-74.
- Branching Out: a model for experiential learning in professional practice. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 33(2), 68-74.
- A valuable club scene. Public Library Journal, 16(2), 44-46.
- Success within reach. Public Library Journal, 16(1), 13-16.
- Impact of Branching Out. Library Association Record, 103(12), 756-757.
- Root and branch examination. Public Library Journal, 15(4), 118-119.
- Reader development takes root. Library Association Record, 102(11), 636-637.
- Branching Out: a model for experiential learning in professional practice. The Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 33(2), 69-75.
- View this article in WRRO Effecting change: reader development projects in public libraries. Library Management, 22(8/9), 395-403.
- View this article in WRRO Measuring the unmeasurable: reader development and its impact on performance measurement in the public library sector. Library Review, 50(6), 295-304.
- View this article in WRRO Homework clubs: a model for the qualitative evaluation of public library initiatives. The New Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship, 6, 177-192.
- Embracing inclusion: the critical role of the library. Library Management, 21(9), 493-490.
- Research In Bowman JH (Ed.), British librarianship and information work 2016-2020 (pp. 242-255). London.
- View this article in WRRO The contribution of Library and Information Science education to decolonising In Crilly J & Everitt R (Ed.), Narrative expansions: interpreting decolonisation in academic libraries (pp. 91-104). Facet Publishing
- View this article in WRRO Research In Bowman J (Ed.), British librarianship and information work 2011-2015 (pp. 378-392).
- View this article in WRRO The changing shape of reading - the 21st-century challenge In Rankin C (Ed.), Library services for children and young people (pp. 39-48). Facet Publishing
- View this article in WRRO Reader development In Elkin J, Birdi B & Denham D (Ed.), Reading and Reader Development The Pleasure of Reading (pp. 30-58). London: Facet Pub.
- Reading research. In Feather J & Sturges P (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Information and Library Science (pp. 544-546). London/New York: Routledge.
- Nice to have, a distraction from the core curriculum, or a disruptive element? A teaching journey through three common perceptions of social justice in LIS education. In Dali K & Thompson K (Ed.), Inglorious pedagogy: difficult, unpopular, and uncommon topics in LIS education in times of crisis and quiet Washington, DC: Rowman & Littlefield.
Conference proceedings papers
- From words to actions: assessing the impact of antiracist declarations in library and information science. Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science, Vol. 27(Special issue). Oslo, Norway, 29 May 2022 - 1 June 2022.
- Eliminating Racism in Education for Knowledge Organization and Library and Information Science: An Intercontinental Position Statement (pp 49-62)
- View this article in WRRO Not just for ethnics: exploring the impact of a black fiction intervention on public library users. Interpreting Communities: Minority Writing in European Literary Fields
- View this article in WRRO 'We are here because you were there': minority ethnic genre fiction in UK public libraries.. http://conference.ifla.org/conference/past/ifla76/2010-08-14.htm. Gothenburg, Sweden, 8 August 2010 - 15 August 2010.
- A promocao da leitura nas bibliotecas publicas do Reino Unido (Reading promotion in UK public libraries). Cadernos do Il Encontro Oeiras a Ler - A promocao da Leitura n as Bibliotecas Publicas Europeias. Oeiras, Portugal, 24 May 2007 - 25 May 2007.
- View this article in WRRO Research on family reading: an international perspective. http://www.ifla.org/IV/ifla72/index.htm. Seoul, Korea, 20 August 2006 - 24 August 2006.
- View this article in WRRO Library-based literacy programs. http://archive.ifla.org/IV/ifla70/papers/174e-Train.pdf. Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 2004.
- View this article in WRRO International reading survey: presentation of findings. www.ifla.org/VII/s33/project/irs.htm. Glasgow, Scotland
- The impact of national literacy and reader development initiatives in the UK: keynote presentation. www.rogaland.fylkesbibl.no/konferanse/forstaa.htm. Stavanger, Norway
- View this article in WRRO Reading research in the United Kingdom. http://www.ifla.org/IV/ifla67/pprog-e.htm#4. Boston, US
- View this article in WRRO Investigating interlending: a scoping study of resource discovery, sharing and cooperation
- The right 'man' for the job? The role of empathy in community librarianship: final project report.
- Stock Quality Health Check: an evaluation
- North West Public Libraries Joint Commissioning Project.
- Libraries are good for business.
- Give me a break: evaluation of the first national public library book promotion in Wales
- Reader development evaluation framework .
- Back to Basics: an evaluation report.
- Quick Reads: reader development and basic skills. An evaluation report.
- What do you like to read? An evaluation of the EMRALD (East Midlands Reader and Library Development) initiative.
- Caring with Books in the West Midlands: evaluation report.
- The Vital Link: an evaluation report.
- Partnerships in promotion: publishers, booksellers and libraries working together to promote reading
- Evaluation of the Reaching Parents programme.
- Branching Out: overview of evaluative findings
- The Mind's Eye evaluation report
- Books on the Street evaluation report
- The value and impact of homework clubs in public libraries.
- A place for children: the library as a safe haven. Summary of research findings.
- The value and impact of homework clubs in public libraries.
- Teaching interests
Much of my teaching relates to public, youth and school libraries and librarianship. Within these three areas I have a particular focus on public libraries, social justice and diversity, and on reading research and the promotion of literature and reading. I have been responsible for developing new modules and new programme materials in each of these areas, for both face to face and distance learning Masters programmes.
It is my view that with a vocational discipline such as Library and Information Science we need to combine the more standard teaching methods with a more ‘outward-facing’ approach, and I have introduced a number of engaged learning initiatives in my teaching. My writing on the subject is included in two Engaged Learning Sheffield publications, and in posts on the University of Sheffield Engaged Curriculum blog.
In both 2016 and 2017, I was awarded Teaching Excellence in Social Sciences awards, for Outstanding Practice in Learning and Teaching.
- Professional activities and memberships
Membership of professional bodies
- CILIP (MCLIP)
Editorial board membership
- Education for Information – Editorial board member (2021-)
- Global Knowledge, Memory & Communication (Library Review) – Editorial Board member (2012-), Associate Editor (2008-2012)
- International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion (IJIDI) – Editorial Board member (2018-)
- New Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship – Editorial Board member (2004-)
- Public Library Quarterly – Editorial Board member (2016-)
Committee and advisory group membership
- QAA (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education) - member of Benchmark Advisory Group for Librarianship, Information, Knowledge, Records and Archives Management in the UK (2014-15)
- Associate Editor (2008-12), Editorial Advisory Board member, Global Knowledge, Memory & Communication (2021-)
- CILIP Diversity Networks Forum - member of steering group (2021-)
- CILIP Ethics Committee member (2016-)
- CILIP Workforce Mapping Project Board member (2013-15)
- CILIP Library & Information Update Editorial Board academic representative (2009-2013)
- CILIP Community, Diversity and Equality Group committee member (2007-)
- CILIP Public Library Journal editorial board member (and Chair), (2005-2009)
- IFLA Literacy & Reading Section Standing Committee Member and Information Officer (2002-10)
- SINTO Social Exclusion Group committee member (2007-2009)
- External Examiner (academic), CILIP Professional Registration Panel (2022-)
- External Examiner for MSc programmes, University of Ulster (2017-21) ,Liverpool John Moores University (2008-2011), University of Strathclyde (2007-8)
- AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council) Peer Review College (2010-12)
My research and commentary on UK public libraries has been reported by a number of media outlets, including BBC News Online, BBC Radio 4, the Independent, BuzzFeed, US journal Public Libraries Online. I have also written for The Conversation.