Objectives: To systematically review published literature on the role of reflection in the library and information science sector. To identify examples of good practice and to investigate the reported contribution, if any, of reflection by library and information workers as part of their professional practice.

Methods: Free text searches (reflective or reflection* or reflexion*) were conducted for English language papers on the Library and Information Science Abstracts (lisa) bibliographic database in two phases; in March 2004 for literature dating from 1969 to 2003 and between 2004 and 2006 in January 2006. Thirteen papers met the inclusion criteria and were coded and analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: Two categories of reflection exist: analytical and non-analytical. These focus on events in the recent and distant past. Non-analytical reflective accounts generally adopt a retrospective tone in reporting on multiple events over a number of decades. In contrast, analytical accounts of reflection focused on single events and attempt to understand the relationship between past experiences and how this might impact on future practice.

Conclusion: From the examples of reflective practice identified, greatest personal and professional benefit is reported when time is given to considering the implications of past events on future practice, that is, analytical reflection.