The purpose of this paper is to introduce the notion of a collaboratory as a virtual learning community and discuss its significance to support collaboration between library and information science (LIS) researchers and practitioners.
The LIS literature describes various forms of inter‐institutional collaboration involving librarians and information professionals, but there is an apparent lack of documented cases of collaboratories involving LIS practitioners and researchers. The paper draws from the literature about collaboratories in the fields of social informatics and information systems and describes the notion of collaboratory, its characteristics and main functions.
It is argued that a LIS collaboratory in the form of a virtual learning community has the potential to provide researchers and practitioners the opportunity to bring in and integrate their respective knowledge, expertise and connections, as well as expand participation of practitioners in research projects. Another claim is that this virtual learning community may fill a critical niche for small institutions as LIS schools and practitioners, and give them the opportunity to choose and work together on relevant research projects. While the prospect of LIS collaboratory looks promising, the challenges to building one need not be overlooked, in particular working at distance and crossing institutional boundaries. More research is needed on the socio‐organizational issues that can influence collaboration between LIS researchers and practitioners.
The discussion is based on the author's review of the literature and observations.
The notion of collaboratory is still new to the LIS field. This paper offers the opportunity to trigger a new discussion on collaboration between researchers and practitioners and the potential of collaboratories to support new forms of collaboration.
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