Dr Briony Birdi (née Train)

Senior Lecturer in Librarianship

BA (Hull), MA (Sheffield), PhD (Sheffield), MCLIP


Briony Birdi 2014


+44 (0)114 222 2653


At work: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

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 am happy to supervise 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.


Current PhD Students

Alexandra Boutopoulou: Using Visual Social Media Data to Better Understand Food Safety Cultures: The case of Wellness Bloggers

Joanna-Louise McKenna-Aspell: Are public libraries essential or critical? A study of public perceptions of public libraries in England, in the context of outdated legislation and austerity from 2010 to 2021

Molly Newcomb Intellectual and social impacts of public libraries on the citizens of Yorkshire/Sheffield during times of conflict in the 20th century. How these impacts categorized public libraries as sanctuary spaces.

Khulud Sahhari: The UK Public Libraries' Strategies of Serving A Multicultural Society: The Arab Community as a Case Study

Jonathan Webster: The history, development and cultural impact of libraries in the North Riding of Yorkshire 1775-1914.


Completed PhD Students

Melanie Benson: Information Use of Migrational Individuals and Public Library Space: An Ethnographic Study.

Elizabeth Chapman: Provision of LGBT Fiction to Children and Young People in UK Public Libraries.

Martin Simmons: Exploring the value of different aspects of culture: a mixed methods study focusing on the perspectives of the public and culture providers in Derbyshire.

Mostafa Syed: Developing the culturally competent public librarian: an investigation of diversity training for public libraries to support empathic service provision to Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities.

Zapopan Muela Meza: An application of community profiling to analyse the information needs and issues affecting the people in Broomhall, Sheffield, and the roles of their information providers.

Kaori Ishida: The partnership between libraries and the book trade to deliver better reader development: its history and future prospects.


Research Projects

Investigating Interlending

TCR (The Combined Regions) Principal Investigator £31,070 1 January 2015 6 months


Library Stories

Faculty of Arts & Humanities Arts Enterprise Funding Investigator £5,000 1 June 2014 12 months


Evaluating the outcomes of cultural services: a mixed methods investigation (Collaborative Doctoral Award)

Arts and Humanities Research Council Principal Investigator £54,250 1 January 2012 36 months


The outcomes of cultural services and their contribution to Derbyshire County Council priorities: a review of the evidence

Derbyshire County Council Principal Investigator £5,000 1 December 2010 2 months


The right 'man' for the job? The role of empathy in community librarianship

Arts and Humanities Research Council Principal Investigator £101,997 1 February 2006 24 months


Stock Quality Health Check: an evaluation.

MLA North West Principal Investigator £5,000 1 October 2005 6 months


North West Public Libraries Joint Commissioning Project

MLA North West Principal Investigator £5,000 2 May 2005 2 months


Give me a break: evaluation of the first national library book promotion in Wales

Opening the Book Ltd Principal Investigator £5,000 1 December 2004 3 months


"Libraries are good for business" baseline research

Yorkshire Museums, Libraries and Archives Council Principal Investigator £7,984 1 November 2004 3 months


Back to Basics: an evaluation of the Thanet Basic Skills Partnership

Learning and Skills Council Principal Investigator £3,000 1 November 2003 4 months


Reader development evaluation framework

British Council Principal Investigator £10,000 1 July 2003 9 months


Quick Reads: reader development and basic skills

Learning and Skills Council Principal Investigator £9,000 1 February 2003 7 months


What do you like to read? An evaluation of the EMRALD initiative

Opening the Book Ltd Principal Investigator £3,600 1 February 2003 7 months


International Reading Survey

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Principal Investigator £3,000 1 August 2001 12 months