Over the past six months, instead of getting down to do proper work I have had to write up a "First Year Report", which is really not a report at all, but a "Literature Review", which I find really frustrating. I am a doer more than a thinker although I do think about what I do! The position in which I now find myself is that because of the reading, writing process, having to justify the reason for investigating children's mobile libraries, of fitting the research into government policies, of finding out one thing and suggesting another, I have been thinking around in circles and not really progressed.
I have done a deal with my supervisors, who wanted me and my "hippy, touchy-feely" methodology to produce a "Literature Review". There is nothing, by the way, about the way reading is promoted on a children's mobile library. I have compromised to do a set of headings outlining what the literature review will be when I do one at the end of the data gathering and analysis. In fact, I will do an annotated set of headings, saying what would be, or is likely to be, in that literature review. As I look at what I have done so far so much seems irrelevant , so much seems to have been imposed by suggestions form the supervisors, who have their pet ideas. I am sure that they are only trying to help, but I think I would have liked more input on the how to do it, rather than the what to do.
So, what happens on a children's mobile library, and why does it matter? It matters because they are a service to communities, they introduce children to literature, some who would not otherwise go into a library. They offer a service to nurseries and early years settings to increase the number of books available to children and staff. They offer a library service, free of charge, to schools where individual children can find books or other information about things that they like. They are a free source of reading material to children who read avidly. They offer fun and interest and freedom of choice. Library services that have children's mobile libraries claim all these things, but is that what happens? Could they be better? Can they do a better job?
Most of all the service matters to the children that use it. I have also thought of the research as producing a sort of handbook of "Best Practice". Will this be good enough justification for my supervisors?