By Sarah Mears, EmpathyLab

It was December 2013 and Miranda McKearney was planning to step down as CEO of The Reading Agency. She invited me to do some thinking with her about a project she wanted to launch around children’s reading and emotional intelligence. This struck a chord with me as in a previous role I had done some work around the use of books in a school for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. I leapt at the opportunity.

The first thing I did was turn to Access to Research to explore the research around children’s books and emotional intelligence. I was able to access a good range of interesting research including papers by Professor Maria Nikolajeva, from Homerton College, Cambridge and Professor Keith Oatley Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto. As we delved deeper, we realised that the work of these two academics leaders in the field would be significant in shaping our thinking.

Because of what we learned through Access to Research, we refined our project to focus specifically on empathy. EmpathyLab was born, and as we continue to nourish it I use Access to Research regularly. I often feel like a detective: scouring references in one report which leads us to another report that’s even more relevant or that takes us in new and important directions.

We’ve since made contact with both Professor Maria Nikolajeva and Keith Oatley. Maria attended our schools day on March 9th, delivering a fascinating session on children’s picture books.

I met with Keith Oatley whilst he was in the UK to test and share our ideas and programmes with him. They will both help and guide us as the organisation develops.

I continue to monitor Access to Research regularly to pick up new research and it has been an invaluable tool in the development of this new organisation.

*

Access to Research gives free, walk-in access to a wide range of academic articles and research in public libraries across the UK. A2R is the result of a successful collaboration between publishers, represented by the Publishers Licensing Society, and librarians, represented by the Society of Chief Librarians.