Sunday, 7 November 2010

Two very different training sessions and a Face-off!

This week I encountered two very different training scenarios which once again reinforced the variety of skills and experience needed to do this job. Both training sessions occurred on the same day, which probably made the juxtaposition more evident in my mind but I thought it would be a good topic to reflect on in this blog.

The first session was a refresher for the Orthopaedics registrar who had come in to see me last week about his dissertation. His topic was about treating Achilles tendon with various non-surgical immobilisation strategies such as bandaging or binding and in the last session we had done a combination title-MeSH search using surgical and non-surgical terms. Now he wanted to focus on the non-surgical and try searching all fields (.af) instead of just title. I had a suspicion this would definitely increase the number of articles obtained but they might not be as relevant. We built a good search though and in this session I really took a backseat and let him get on with it, making suggestions and giving encouragement when he needed it. He was rather disappointed by the large number of results, especially when we re-ran the search in Embase, CINAHL and AMED and he is going to try title and abstract next, rather than all fields. It was interesting that he never actually looked at his results, just at the number of results and I suspect he felt a bit overwhelmed by it all. I don’t think anyone would be able to fault his search strategy however and it really brought home to me just how individual every search is and the importance of trying different things. It was also reassuring that he had picked up what I had shown him last week and seemed relatively comfortable with using the databases and combining terms. To be honest I don’t think I really needed to be there but I think he wanted some reassurance that he was doing it ‘right’. The session last just under an hour and a half.

My second session took place in the afternoon with a staff nurse who confessed herself she was not comfortable with computers and instructed me to talk to her like she was ‘stupid’. She had the additional problem that she was suffering from vertigo and had difficulty concentrating. But she had an essay to write by the beginning of January and had not written anything academic for over eight years! Our search was on treatment of acne in adolescents, which was fairly straightforward but I found myself having to explain things a few times over and I could tell by the middle of the session she was starting to flag. The session lasted just under an hour.

I have been trying to get the trainees to do more themselves recently, rather than me showing them how to do things, and am finding it incredibly frustrating! I am so familiar with the HDAS interface and use it all the time so watching someone try to use it for the first time and clicking all the wrong things is very difficult for me. It’s very tricky trying to get the balance between keeping the search relevant to them (e.g. choosing a topic that they want to search) while making sure all the basics of searching effectively are covered (e.g. truncation, phrase searching, MeSH). If a user wants to find articles on nursing and mentoring, they naturally want to type “nursing and mentoring” in the search box (like Google!) not “nurs*.ti AND exp NURSING” AND “mentor* and exp MENTORING”. It’s not logical to them, even though it’s perfectly logical to me. This is something I must overcome as it is only by doing that trainees are truly going to learn. Perhaps I should start the session by getting them to put in the terms they would naturally use to search then go from there, demonstrating through trial and error that truncation, phrasing and MeSH terms equals more results and more relevant results (hopefully!).

Both sessions were very interesting in very different ways and I found myself utilising different skills in each one. The first was rigourous on an intellectual level while the second tested my skills in teaching and patience. In terms of what was learned I think the first session was probably more successful but am hoping the nurse took something away which she will be able to put to use later. We did at least find some relevant articles for her essay, so that was a bonus!

On Friday I hosted what I am hoping will become a regular event in the library for the next six weeks or so. It was a Point-of-Care Tools “Face-off” which gave participants the opportunity to test out three leading point-of-care tools currently on the market; Up-to-Date, Best Practice and Dynamed. We subscribe to Up-to-Date through the Trust already but Best Practice (from the BMJ) and Dynamed (an Ebsco product) we have on a trial basis through the London Deanery until 31 December 2010. Basically what they do is present a medical condition and walk the clinician through it from initial diagnosis through to treatment and follow-up, all backed up with the latest evidence. A clinician’s dream you might think (!) but the uptake of these tools has been fairly slow and I really wanted to find out if they have any practical use in the real world by getting those in the real world of medicine to try them out.

I advertised the Face-off to just the medical students and FY1s/FY2s this time around, liaising with the medical students coordinator and emailing all of them, following up with a reminder this week. There wasn’t much interest unfortunately and I’m not sure whether this is because they are too busy or just genuinely not interested. I tried to use hooks in the email to get their attention (e.g. “good medical exam resource”) and even offered food but in the end we only had two medical students come along, plus my manager, the library assistant and a student radiologist. However they were very enthusiastic and gave some very helpful feedback. I kept the session very simple and informal (more of a drop-in rather than an actual session) where they chose one condition and tried out the tools searching on that one topic and filling out an evaluation for each one. Unfortunately we lost access to Dynamed in the afternoon (it had been working fine in the morning) so the session just trialled Up-to-Date and Best Practice. I wrote up their vote and comments on the whiteboard and so far Up-to-Date has 3 votes and Best Practice has 2 votes. Interestingly the clinicians both voted for Best Practice.

I am hoping to run more of these Face-offs every Friday now until mid-December and advertise them to the wider Trust. I now have all the materials set up and it will just be a case of topping up the refreshments every other week or so. Will be sure to record what happens on this blog!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

A busy October

It has been a very busy few weeks here in the Healthcare Library and I thought I would take a bit of time to reflect on a few things that have happened in the past weeks. My colleague and I did a session at another site hospital last week on critical appraisal, covering both quantitative and qualitative research (she did quan, I did qual) and it went really well! All the participants turned up, which is very unusual, and there was a good mix of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.

I piloted an exercise found on the ever helpful CATNiP wiki called the “Qualitytative Street exercise” which basically used Quality Street chocolates to explain some of the concepts of qualitative research. Basically everyone had to choose their favourite, eat it then describe what they liked about the chocolate. These terms were written up on the whiteboard and then we put them into categories such as ‘taste’, ‘texture’ or ‘appearance’. We then had a discussion on such issues as focus group recruitment (e.g. nobody asked what the study was about before agreeing to participate!), why people might choose not to take part, how the data were “collected”, data saturation, how the data were analysed and the role of the researcher (how might their answers have differed if they knew I was employed by Nestle...or Cadbury’s?!) We got very positive feedback on the session overall and a few people mentioned they found the qualitative session particularly useful as they do not encounter much in their day-to-day work. I personally found listening to the quantitative session very helpful as it gave me ideas for what to add to my training course.

Our journal survey finished at the beginning of October but between one thing and another I didn’t get a chance to look through the results properly until Friday, when I had to send the results to my manager and the manager on our other site for a meeting on Tuesday about journal selection for the coming year. We had 151 responses in the end and it was very interesting going through the results. We received a lot of useful suggestions for how we could improve the service as well as a huge list of recommended journal titles. I do not envy the managers trying to decide which ones to take and which ones to discard! One very positive result was seeing how well the NHS resources are used – the majority of respondents said they used, HILO or MyAthens to access e-journals. The next favourite access point is Google which is not surprising really. Another interesting result was that only half of the respondents prefer electronic access to journals over print. 18% prefer print and 27% have no preference. The respondents seemed fairly satisfied with the provision of e-journals and print journals, ease of access and promotion and the top titles read at the Trust are BMJ, New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Nursing Standard, British Journal of Midwifery and Stroke. Some of the suggestions for improvement were a bit outrageous, such as having print copies of all journals at all three sites (exactly what we are trying to avoid!) and “electronic access via British Library services” (which if left to the devices of our users would wipe out our entire budget in a week) but others were very helpful such as targeted email services for specific subjects and coming to speak at team meetings and inductions. The survey certainly identified areas where further training is needed.

Finally I have been working away on my very first book review! An email went round a few weeks ago asking for volunteers to review a couple of books for the HLG newsletter. My manager forwarded it on to me and one of the books “Technology Training in Libraries” caught my attention so I got in touch with the person offering and volunteered to do the review. The book is part of the Facet ‘Tech Set’ series and was a very interesting read. I enjoyed the experience of writing up about it and will put the link to my review when it is published in the newsletter, hopefully next month.

I have been very busy with one-to-one sessions, especially as degree courses are starting up again. I had an Orthopaedics registrar in the other morning who wanted a very comprehensive literature search for his dissertation and I was grateful once again that a Masters degree is required for becoming a qualified librarian as the first thing he asked was whether I had experience in carrying out research. If I hadn’t done a Masters and gone through the experience of carrying out my research project I probably would have felt quite intimidated but as it was I could answer in the affirmative and he seemed quite impressed that a postgrad qualification was required for being a librarian!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

An Information Revolution...without libraries?

The Department of Health’s Liberating the NHS: An Information Revolution consultation document was published on Monday this week (18 Oct 2010) and lays out a strategy for the way the NHS should manage information in the future. As Andrew Lansley quite rightly states in the Foreward of the document, “we must not lose sight of the primary purpose of information in the health and care system: to ensure that every patient and service user receives high quality care” (p3). All well and good but the term “information” in this document is somewhat nebulous, used as an umbrella term for everything from patient records to health websites to audit to evidence. Furthermore there is no mention of libraries or library services anywhere in the document apart from a reference to the “Indicators for Quality Improvement library” (p36) which I for one have never heard of.

While the bulk of An Information Revolution is concerned with patient records and the flow of medical data there are certainly a number of areas where libraries are involved or could be involved. Section 4.6 states “in order to grasp the opportunities offered by the information revolution, clinicians and care professionals need to be able to access the best evidence (including international evidence) of outcomes, interventions and risks. Evidence needs to be user-friendly, up-to-date and available at the point of care, to inform discussions with patients and service users…Individual professionals, teams and organisations need to be supported to access information of this kind, which can make all the difference in ensuring safety and effective outcomes” (p36) Ummm, yes – do they not realise that this information is already being provided by hundreds of NHS medical libraries across the country every day? There is a short paragraph dedicated to NHS Evidence, described as a service which “is an important addition to commercially provided data services (which are often subscription-based and aimed at particular specialist audiences)” again ignoring the fact that such subscriptions are usually paid for by NHS library services on behalf of their users.

The document strongly supports better access to medical information for patients, which of course is laudable, but takes a rather simplistic view of what is a very complex subject. The emphasis on the internet as a channel for medical information is very obvious but is fairly silent on the subject of information literacy and evidence-based medicine. The three criteria for effective information is that it should be:
- informing, so that they know it is comprehensive and can be trusted;
- engaging, so that they are willing and able to use it; and
- empowering, so that they know how it can make a difference (p11)

How about authoritative, evidence-based, reliable?

The document states that “for some time now, people have been using the internet to explore a diagnosis after (or before) they visit their doctor” (p10) quoting a study of patient use of the internet which showed 11% of patients for neurology outpatients at the Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Liverpool in 2001-5 accessing the internet prior to clinic attendance. 11%?! It’s hardly statistically significant is it? The document also mentions “the role of websites such as ‘Mumsnet’ in generating new ways of sharing insights and information – including health information – is having a lasting effect on our society. Carers, patients, service users, care workers and clinicians are increasingly able to access forums to discuss the issues that matter to them, and offer support from others with experience of their condition” (p10) and exhorts that “the NHS, local authorities and care providers should be responding to and supporting these new approaches” (p11). Now I have been on a few of these forums in my time and have found them pretty useless to be honest, mainly involving somebody complaining they have a strange rash, followed by a slew of respondents all saying they have something similar but nobody knowing exactly what it is or how it should be treated.

Libraries, both medical and public, are extremely well-placed to provide authoritative, reliable information to patients. Many libraries already do and even more would be willing to do so. Why is this not mentioned in An Information Revolution? It may well be that “information cannot be seen as something that is the sole responsibility of the specialist” (p39) but why not harness the knowledge and experience of information specialists such as librarians and avoid reinventing the proverbial wheel?

Finally, I did have to laugh at the statement on page 14: “Whilst any associated costs will need to be met within the Department of Health’s Spending Review settlement, there will be no additional central funding to pay for the information revolution…Whilst there will inevitably be costs, which could fall centrally and/or locally, the information revolution should, ultimately, pay for itself.” Not surprising really that the government thinks good quality information can be produced on the cheap, but it makes the whole document ring rather hollow.

I shall definitely be responding to this consultation document and hope many other medical librarians will as well. After all, there is not going to be an Information Revolution in the NHS without us!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Clinical Governance: doing the right thing

I attended a workshop on clinical governance on 23 September, hosted by CLIST and held at the Bloomsbury Healthcare Library. I decided to go more out of duty than interest as clinical governance is one of those things I find it very hard to get excited about. I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard however and found the session much more interesting than expected. Our speaker, Nada Schiavone, who is currently the Patient Safety Lead at NHS London, was a very engaging speaker with much experience in both clinical and managerial work. Her presentation was peppered with real examples of situations she has faced and she was very candid about her concerns regarding the changes currently planned for the NHS and how they will affect patient safety and clinical governance.

The course consisted of a presentation about clinical governance itself (very simply put, clinical governance is about doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, in the right place for the right patient) and how it fits in with the aims and objectives of the NHS. This was followed by her thoughts on how NHS library services could have a positive impact on clinical governance. Finally we split into groups and worked through some scenarios. As part of the presentation Nada asked us to guess the average cost of litigation claims against the NHS costs the average acute Trust and it turned out to be £21 million a year – that is £21 million per Trust, per year! So, very important to get things right, obviously.
As far as library involvement in clinical governance, Nada proposed the following questions:

- Are you on the right committees for supporting evidence-based practice?
- Are you visible?
- What evidence base can the library produce to support integrated governance (a fancier word for clinical governance, which includes governance other than just clinical)
- What information does the service provide for patients?
- How do you demonstrate support for audit/research projects?
- Can you help with presenting data? Writing a report? Publishing a piece of work?

She also stressed the importance of being aware of service redesigns and aligning library resources to Trust strategies and staff needs, all of which sounded very familiar! I went away with a lot to think about and will possibly now be able to summon a little more excitement about clinical governance…

Feast or Famine...

Having just complained last week that it was a bit quiet it has suddenly gone busy again here in the Healthcare Library. Staff inductions have started up again and we also had a new intake of student doctors which can only mean library tours and presentations for all. We are also running a journal survey across all three sites and have had over 100 responses so far – much better than expected. I spent much time the week before last played about with our LMS so we could send out an email to all our users (who have email addresses). This will serve a dual purpose: catching people who are library members but not Athens users and seeing just how comprehensive (or not) our records are on the LMS. It will also test the capabilities of the LMS itself which is quite good at ingesting data but not so admirable at spitting it out again. Spent a while with the Senior Library Assistant experimenting and we eventually got it to run a report as a text document which I opened in Access, refined some of the data, saved as a text document again then opened in Word to insert the required semicolons needed for Outlook.

Of course when I sent my marvellous instructions to the Library Manager at our other site he sent back an email with a much easier way but the nice thing about my way is that we get all the bounced back emails, which the poor Library Assistant (and myself!) spent a few hours amending last week. It gave us a chance to clear out some old records as well so I think the experiment worked quite well...

I have attended a few meetings and training sessions the last few weeks including a CLIST meeting, a clinical governance training session (which I will talk about in a separate blog post) and the R&D Committee meeting. CLIST, held at the Bloomsbury Healthcare Library, is always a good chance to catch up with what has been going on with the other information skills trainers in London and my counterpart at another site library met afterwards to plan our critical appraisal session in October. We sent the communication out last week and already have about 8 takers! I have also recently joined the Trust R&D Committee and attended my first meeting last Friday where new proposals for research in the Trust were heard and matters around research were discussed. I found it very interesting, informative and highly professional, even though I didn’t understand everything discussed it gave me a sense of how the library could get involved in research at the Trust.

And finally, we have been in the news again – even hitting the BBC headlines last week! I have a feeling it's going to be a tough winter...

- Patients ‘at grave risk’ from poorly trained doctors (Independent on Sunday, 19 Sep 2010)

- Sidcup hospital to close A&E and maternity over the winter (BBC News, 22 Sep 2010)

Monday, 6 September 2010

Back on the Blog Wagon

I have inadvertently taken a break over the summer from my blog as things have been a bit quiet on the training front but as it is now September I have started to feel familiar twinges of guilt so it’s time to get back on the wagon and blog on a regular basis again. Not a great deal has happened since my last post on the White Paper and in fact the White Paper parade has all gone a bit quiet lately. However people are busy writing more papers in preparation for it becoming law and no doubt we’ll be hearing more when it comes out of consultation on the 11th Oct. For a good resource on all things White Paper I can recommend nothing better than the Health Management Specialist Collection’s White Paper page which not only has all the documentation for the Paper but all the responses from various organisations and media reports as well.

I attended the HLG Conference 2010 on the 19th-20th July which took place this year in Salford Quays near Manchester. The theme was ‘Keeping information centre stage amidst changing scenery’ and there were many interesting seminars and workshops to attend and the venue was really lovely (see attached photo which I took on my first day). My only problem was that there was no wireless access and as mobile signals interfered with the sound equipment in the main lecture theatre it meant I couldn’t tweet my experience as it happened – something I had been really looking forward to! However I did have a good time, met some interesting people and dutifully wrote up my report for the HLG Newsletter which you can read here.

I went on a systematic reviews training day at the end of July which was held at Guy’s campus and hosted by information specialist staff from Cochrane and CRD. They gave very in-depth and informative sessions on the work that goes into producing a systematic review and I found the presentation on searching at systematic review level especially helpful. It certainly gave me a lot to think about and aspects to include in my Systematic Reviews workshop.

I also paid a visit to the Royal College of Physicians library a few weeks ago which proved very dramatic as upon my arrival a BBC film crew were outside the building in Regent’s Park filming a TV drama! Once I navigated my way around the cameras, SWAT teams and semi-automatic rifles into the building we were given an excellent tour of the different bits of the library, which is spread across two sites. They have a very impressive collection of both old and new stock which is accessible to all members of the Royal College and have the largest collection of medical education books in the country. Unfortunately because of building regulations they are unable to put a sign outside the building directing people to the Medical Education Resource Centre so they rely very much on word-of-mouth recommendation. In the Heritage Centre library on the other site I was especially excited to catch site of books owned by John Dee which had been stolen sometime in the 16th century and somehow ended up in the hands of a Duke who contributed his collection to the RCP. Certainly none of our books have such an exciting progeny!

As far as training is concerned it has been quiet over the summer and I decided not to run group training in August to allow myself to catch up with other things. These included trying to convince health managers at the hospital to sign up for Athens accounts (which failed miserably), tracking down some book titles for Learning and Organisational Development to buy on our behalf and promoting the Medicine Collection journals. My new training schedule was advertised last week and I have had a few takers but not as many as I had hoped! Still I suppose people are still getting back from holiday mode etc so I have to hope I will get a few more in the weeks to come. My colleague in Bromley and I are running a joint session on critical appraisal at the Queen Mary’s site in mid-October. She will be doing quantitative (thank goodness!) and I will be doing qualitative and we will be trialling a new critical appraisal technique involving Quality Street chocolates...more on that when it happens!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

How will the new NHS White Paper affect NHS library and information services?

OK so looking back I realise my last posting was a little heated and 'of the moment'! I have now had a few days to reflect on the White Paper and even got a chance to read through most of it to try and work out what it may mean for NHS library and information service provision. Unfortunately it is far from clear but I will mention a few things I think are worth considering...

1. Referencing
The first thing I noticed skimming through the Paper is just how poorly referenced it is. There are many examples of broad sweeping statements like "information, combined with the right support, is the key to better care, better outcomes and reduced cost" (p13) and "there is compelling evidence that better information also creates a clear drive for improvement in providers" (p14) with no references to where this "evidence" can be found. Only 8 scholarly journal articles are referenced and only one of these is a systematic review. There are also no hypertext links to other documents mentioned in the Paper, even DH ones. Come on guys - this document puts even Wikipedia to shame!

2. An 'information revolution'

The Paper goes into a fair amount of detail about providing sufficient information to patients to enable them to make decisions about their healthcare (section 2). This will apparently be in the form of a 'information revolution' which is partly to do with providing patients with access to "comprehensive, trustworthy and easy to understand information from a range of sources on conditions, treatments, lifestyle choices and how to look after their own and their family’s health" (p.13) but also giving them greater access to their health records and more effective outcome measures for better accountability. "Patients and carers will be able to access the information they want through a range of means" but it is not clear what these "means" are and I will be interested to see the information strategy the government is planning on publishing sometime in the autumn. I am not sure the government realises the complexities and expense involved in organising and distributing health information to patients and the extra burden this will have on healthcare providers.

3. Education and training
The other area of greatest relevance to library and information services is of course education and training. This is mentioned very briefly towards the end of the Paper (section 4.32) and it seems that moneys intended for the purpose of education and training (MPET) will be gradually put into the hands of providers, rather than the DH, allowing them to make local decisions about training and education for staff. In theory this is a good idea but unless the finance is properly ring-fenced it has a habit of 'disappearing' and being used to fund other things. It remains to be seen whether the GP consortia and the Centre for Workforce Intelligence (whoever they are?!) will have enough clout and interest to see this does not happen.

So, overall still not very impressed! I guess we library and information professionals will just have to wait and see what the real impact of this White Paper will be on our services to users....

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Hey! Who took my NHS?!

The coalition government published a White Paper on the NHS yesterday (12/7/10) called Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, which promises a “bottom up” approach to NHS funding, a dismantling of unnecessary administration, targets and bureaucracy and (the usual) improvements in health outcomes, better care for patients etc. It will accomplish this by putting the majority of NHS funds (about 80%) in the hands of GPs, giving all NHS Trusts foundation status, granting the responsibility of public health to local authorities and getting rid of all primary care trusts (PCTs) and strategic health authorities (SHAs).

The White Paper is couched in cleverly worded language so that those outside the NHS and not privy to its organisational structure will not at first realise that what is actually being proposed is the effective dismantling of the NHS as an organisation and a move to privatising a public service. GP surgeries already operate as mini enterprises separate from the NHS. Trusts that gain foundation status are given power to operate outside the structures and targets of the NHS. The only other bodies existing as NHS organisations (PCTs and SHAs) are to be abolished. Put this all together and one is left begging the question: just what is the NHS anymore?

Initial reaction to the news has been cautious from professional bodies such as the BMA, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Care Quality Commission. The King’s Fund has been more vocal and the national press (Guardian, Independent) has had a field day. What has been most surprising about this White Paper is that it has seemingly come out of nowhere and how can we be sure that such radical changes will actually have a positive benefit on patient care? Are GPs really ready and equipped to take on such an enormous responsibility (on top of their already challenging work)? Do local authorities have the capacity to handle the public health remit? Who is going to make sure they are doing a good job? And most of all: Does the NHS really need another massive reorganisation?

All the pieces of this enormous jigsaw puzzle are not meant to be in place until 2013-14 at the latest but it is a blow to PCTs and SHAs, which are full of hard-working, knowledgeable and experienced managers and other staff who are committed to patient care and quality. As things stand now they will find it difficult to be taken seriously in the new world order and personally I think it is insulting to sub-title the document 'liberating the NHS' as if all managers and management structures are somehow holding the NHS back.

It remains to be seen in the immediate, medium and long-term how 'Equity and Excellence' will impact the NHS. I will be blogging later in the week on how I think these changes may affect medical library services. I have to agree with Andrew Burnham that the coalition government are taking an enormous gamble with the NHS as an organisation, with patients and with the lives of NHS staff at a critical time where none of us can afford to lose.

P.S. I also just want to point out for the record that Twitter was of enormous benefit when it came to the current awareness promotion of the White Paper to our library users. I was on alert all day waiting for the announcement to send the link out to managers, consultants and GPs as soon as it was published. Although we were able to watch the Parliament proceedings as they happened via BBC iPlayer (link) it was the Department of Health Twitter page which published the link first and I sent the publication out to our users a full 2 and a half hours before Andrew Lansley’s official email landed in our NHSNet accounts. Another example of why Twitter should not be a banned site in NHS Trusts!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

I like Google but honestly....

After a good start I ended last week feeling a bit like the Katherine Hepburn character from 'Desk Set'. You know, the 1960s film about the reference desk of a large corporation managed by the luminous Hepburn being taken over by a machine called EMMERAC who can apparently answer all the questions thrown at it, rendering the reference desk redundant? (and if you are a librarian and haven't seen this film go out now and find it - it's hilarious and every self-respecting information professional should see it!).

My manager had a telephone conversation last thing on Friday with one of our external funders (who I shall not name as the following is not common knowledge yet) who told him they won't be able to give us the same level of funding this year and may cut us off altogether. Essentially they don't see the value of information skills training - the person in charge of education and development in this organisation claimed she could hire somebody one day a week "to show staff Athens resources" as she put it. Well I would like to see her try squeezing my job into one day a week - I trained nearly 30 people from this organisation in the last 3 months, meaning this person would have to run three training sessions in their one day a week plus all the advertising, planning and follow-up, Athens administration, random queries, people popping by ad hoc, literature search requests...they would be dead after one day on such a job. She also claims that somebody on the board there saw 'information skills training' on the budget and queried it, asking "what do we need this for, we've got Google haven't we?"

Obviously this made me feel really valued and appreciated and it's nice to see those in charge with such a progressive, enlightened view of information literacy! I was (and still am) pretty hurt and angry actually which didn't make for a very nice Friday evening but then I decided no - I am not going to let these people get to me. They are representative of all the work that still needs to be done regarding information literacy. I am the one out there on the ground meeting people every day who need help finding information and I know how much my training is valued. It is just depressing that these people (who unfortunately happen to hold the purse strings) do not and are completely out of touch with what their staff need. Instead of letting their attitudes discourage me I am going to take them in hand and challenge them through the work I do. I am an information professional - cross me at your peril!

Other than that the week went well and I had a very good training session with a lovely midwife on Thursday on staying up-to-date. She was very on the ball and wanted to find out more about RSS feeds and discussion lists. I do tend to cram quite a lot into my staying up-to-date course, but there is a lot out there!

I also had a good chat on the telephone with my colleague at the other hospital in our Trust and we have decided to organise a joint critical appraisal session covering both quantitative and qualitative research for anyone in the whole Trust. We were also talking of maybe trying to run training sessions first thing in the morning - "Early Bird Specials" if you will - with coffee and donuts!

I am also planning on sending out an evaluation form to all my one-to-one trainees from last year til now to find out if they are using the training they undertook and found it useful. Fingers crossed I get lots of positive responses!

Monday, 21 June 2010

"A medical degree is not required for this job...but it wouldn't hurt!"

I had a very interesting clinical query last week which took me completely out of my comfort zone and made me think afterwards "I must blog about this!" We had a call from a registrar on the wards on Tuesday asking if we could track down the lowest ever recorded sodium level (in a human) in the literature. He had a patient with a sodium level of 100 and he wanted to see if there had been any recorded lower. "Well that shouldn't be too difficult" thought I, but having sat myself down in front of Medline it took me ages to think how to approach the question in a standard database query sort of way. I started out very basically entering "low sodium", "lowest sodium" or "sodium requirements" as a title search but just got loads of articles about dietary sodium levels and things to do with animals. I then branched out to a thesaurus search for SODIUM and HUMANS and "low*" but again, too broad. I had to take a break then to do a one-to-one session with an OT but I asked the library assistant and senior library assistant to have a think as well.

An hour or so later I was back on the case. The library assistant had found a wonderful site on medical world records but unfortunately sodium levels were not exactly exciting enough to merit an entry. The senior library assistant suggested I consult some books on fluids and electrolytes which proved to be an excellent move because from these books ("Fluids and Electrolytes Made Incredibly Easy" and "Fluids and Electrolytes: A 2-in-1 Reference for Nurses") I discovered that a low sodium (or serum sodium) level was known medically as hyponatremia and it is measured in terms of MeQ/L. A serum sodium level of 100 is dangerously low (low is considered to be between 120 and 135) which made me hope our registrar was treating this patient and not sitting around waiting for my answer!

I returned to my Medline search and search hyponatremia in the title and the thesaurus, combined these searches with OR then searched "100 MEQ/L" OR "less than 100 MEQ/L" and added these searches to the hyponatremia search. I got 6 results, which were not bad but still not quite what I was after. I started working down from 100 MEQ/L to 90, then 80, 70 and 60 but that didn't work very well so I then tried combining the hyponatremia searches with "severe" and "serum sodium level" which, while not giving me the answer, helped me to gain a better knowledge about what I was looking for. In the end I found the combination of hyponatremia (title and thesaurus) AND "serum sodium.ti,ab" AND "MEQ/L" AND "severe.ti.ab" gave me a good range of low sodium levels, both case studies and research on groups of patients and I could be reasonably sure that the lowest serum sodium level ever recorded in the literature is 99 MEQ/L.

It was a very interesting search, not least of which the way it illustrated the different ways humans and computers "think". Funnily enough, the library assistant told her friend about the search a few days later and he promptly put in "lowest sodium level recorded" into Google and came up with a relevant article mentioning 99 MEQ/L as the lowest ever but without having done the search myself on a database I couldn't have been certain that this was the right answer. I certainly now know more about sodium levels than I ever wanted to know!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Information Literacy

Well I've only been back at work for two days as I was on holiday in lovely Wales for most of the week but I thought I would still blog about them as the first day back especially was quite interesting. It was our bi-monthly CLIST (Clinical Library and Information Skills Trainers) group meeting on Thursday and there were quite a few lively discussions which got going over information literacy skills in healthcare professionals today. Two points which I thought would be useful to mention was the fact that nurses are now being expected to do Masters levels qualifications in order to progress in their careers but many are not getting the support they need to carry out this level of education. One of the librarians at the meeting (who has been in the job for a long time) was saying that some of the nurses she has been seeing recently barely have basic literacy skills, much less information literacy. They are brilliant nurses but just don't have the academic background and processing skills necessary to carry out Masters level work. The universities offer very little support and they are having to manage their very stressful day-to-day nursing work on top of the education - it is unfair on them and must be so demoralising. And we health librarians have to pick up the pieces!

Another point was about information literacy in general among staff and a CLIST member made an interesting point that the style of internet searching has changed in recent years. People using the internet in a personal capacity at home do not tend to 'surf' or explore the internet like they did when the World Wide Web first became popular. She was saying that people now tend to concentrate on two or three sites (Facebook, Google, Yahoo email account etc) to find what they need rather than roving through lots of different sites and as a result have become much less certain about the internet 'terrain'. This then translates over to the work situation where people prefer to have one site to find everything they need. But in health and medicine this is just not possible.

Our afternoon session quite coincidentally was on information literacy as well and we had the ever-enthusiastic Susie Andretta of the FILE course leading the session. There were three presentations - one from Richard Thorne of NHS Nottingham City who is leading on public health intelligence course for public health professionals in the East Midlands area, another from Sue Jennings of Lancashire Care Trust who has a very exciting approach to blogging and current awareness bulletins and the last presentation came from Susie herself which asked about whether evaluation of training sessions should focus on the trainer, the user or the organisation. I found the session from Sue the most interesting - she has been using a blog in conjunction with a monthly one page current awareness bulletin with very successful results. The blog (which uses Wordpress) is very impressive - almost like a website on it's own. The most exciting thing is the complexity of the statistics available on Wordpress - you can literally see who is reading what on nearly every part of the blog and the stats are truly amazing. I was inspired but unsure how well it would work in an acute trust - Lancashire Care Trust is a mental health trust so most of the material is concentrated on mental health. I do think it might be an idea to switch our work blog over to Wordpress though (no offense Blogger....)

Today I have been back in the office catching up with my emails and getting back up to speed again. Have a busy week training-wise next week with quite a few one-to-ones. On Monday I am going into town to find out more about the Ovid link resolver and whether it will be the answer to all our link resolving problems. Hmmm, chance would be a fine thing....!

And most exciting of all - I have a new template for my blog! Thanks Blogger - now just get some analytics built in and I'll be well chuffed.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

One year in post!

Well it is a momentous day - this day last year was my first day at my current job which means I have survived a whole year as a librarian! Praise be. As I sit here celebrating (rather modestly) with a limoncello and tonic and some Welsh cakes I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect back on some of the things I've learned so far....

1. The only constant is change - so be flexible and adaptable
2. Be passionate about your work, but not precious
3. Use any opportunity to market services
4. Make the most of any contact with users and follow up potential leads
5. Don't rely solely on email
6. Always check the To: field when replying to an email, and delete any content below your message
7. Make training sessions relevant to users
8. Keep training presentations as short and engaging as possible
9. Be prepared for disappointment but hope for the best
10. Never assume anything!

Yes it has been a very interesting year and I have learned so much. I have been really blessed to be working with a great team and manager which makes all the difference and really hope the next year will be as good as the last. There are definitely challenging times ahead....

Had two sessions booked in today - one a critical appraisal: qualitative research and the other a session for specialist cardiac nurses, neither of which turned out quite as I planned! First of all nobody turned up for the critical appraisal session - I had 5 potentially booked and not a one arrived. A very apologetic doctor turned up an hour and a half later; he had been in a minor car accident and sorting out all the paperwork had taken longer than expected. I had an email from another potential trainee later on as well - she had got confused about the date. So I'll let them off but no idea what happened to the others!

The cardiac nurses session was a bit strange as well, although at least 4 turned up! I had been told to expect quite high-level nurses, familiar with libraries and database searching but none of my trainees matched this description. They were all lovely but I don't think any of them had ever seen a database in their life, which meant I had to adapt the session slightly. However at least we got them all registered and they know the library is here when they need it.

Well I am off on holiday to North Wales tomorrow so I won't be blogging again for a little while. As I am feeling a little de-mob happy I thought I would post this wonderful video a friend sent me on Facebook today:


Sunday, 23 May 2010

Graduation and All That Jazz

Well probably the high light of this week was our graduation ceremony at the Guildhall in London on Tues. Arrived bright and early at 8.30am to be robed in a very handsome black gown with a gold and burgundy sash (and cap, of course). Most of my friends off my course came (we were all full-timers) and it was a very nice ceremony with full faculty parade, brass band and all. The Library and Information Studies class came right near the end so we had to sit through a lot of names before it was our turn. I had never been to the Guildhall before and thought it was a lovely building, full of history.

Back to the grindstone on Wednesday with my first Systematic Reviews workshop and a Learning Awareness Week stand outside the hospital canteen. I had two doctors sign up for the Systematic Reviews course, but only one turned up. He was very keen though and interestingly he had already done a systematic review recently. He wanted to know more about tracking down articles and making sure he everything written on a particular subject. So I ran through my presentation and we sat down and did a little literature search later on. I'm not sure how useful the course was to him but I did try to encourage him to ask the library to help out with his literature searches! He is coming along to the Reference Management and Finding the Evidence Improvers this week (one after the other, phew!).

Learning Awareness Week went pretty well - the stand outside the canteen on Wednesday attracted a fair amount of attention (lots of freebies!) and we got people to fill in slips of paper with their name, job title and something they wanted to learn or something they had learned this week. We then made these into a long chain, which is now hanging proudly on our journals shelf! On Thursday we had a drop-in session for people to make the most of their Athens accounts but in the end only had 2 takers. Still it was worth doing and all-in-all a good chance to get out and interact with some potential users. The most interesting and rewarding part of the week for me was meeting a patient who came up to our stand and wanted to know more about where to find medical information. We had a really good chat and I pointed her in the direction of NHS Evidence and NHS Choices, both excellent, free sources of information for patients and carers.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Another higgeldy-piggeldy week

This week has all been a bit higgledy-piggeldy with assorted training sessions, meetings and planning for Learning Awareness Week (with the very scary-sounding acronym of LAW) which runs all next week.

Monday started well with a slot on the staff induction, thanks to our friends in high places. My inductees weren't the keenest I've ever seen but two full days of IT, clinical governance, fire safety awareness and child protection is enough to put anyone off. Tuesday was my second critical appraisal: quantitative research course, which I was really nervous about as I'm still not convinced I entirely understand confidence intervals, p-values and odds-ratio diagrams enough to explain them to others by my little group of three were lovely and I felt the session was very positive.

Wednesday was spent mostly in town at a meeting at the Deanery to discuss a user needs analysis survey we are carrying out. I felt slightly intimidated being a lowly information skills trainer with barely a year's experience among the great and good of the London Deanery e-Kat team but they were all very nice and the meeting was constructive. We are using the JISC Strategic Content Alliance's materials to run the survey and came up with some good questions to ask our users.

Thursday was a 'bitty' day - preparing materials for my Systematic Reviews course next week, getting some ideas of activities for LAW and general library bits and bobs. And today was just mad. I think I mentioned in a previous blog about having to recruit volunteers to carry out the training session I planned for my FILE course. Well I managed to get 4 volunteers using the bribe of coffee and donuts but alas owing to various clinical commitments and suchlike they couldn't come all at once. So I had three dropping in through various times of the day which was all a bit higgeldy-piggeldy in terms of finding a free computer to train on, making sure I had all my various bits and pieces and doing it all in 20 mins!

But, it's all done now so I just need to get one feedback form back from one trainee then I can write it up, send it off and be finally done with FILE! Next week: systematic review course, MA graduation and adventures with LAW....

Library for Sale!

I'm afraid it's been a few weeks since my last post. Has been a bit of a rough few weeks really, mostly to do with job uncertainty and general fed-upness but I won't go into details as it's all a bit boring but it has made me reflect on the question of why are libraries, (or the concept of 'the library') so darn difficult to 'sell'?

It is Adult Learners Week / Knowledge Awareness next week so of course we in the Healthcare Library are keen to get involved to promote our role in encouraging learning. But it has been beset with difficulties - even getting an all staff email out to advertise our activities has been denied and we have been relegated to the fourth or fifth piece down in the staff weekly bulletin. I sent my training courses dates out three weeks ago and still only have a few takers. We are still fighting to get a slot on the bi-monthly staff induction as well and although there has been a breakthrough at our site owing to good contacts, my manager is getting nowhere with the other site where he works two days a week. And just sometimes it feels no matter how much you provide, how well you deliver a service the users just want more, more, more....

Okay so I realise I am moaning on a bit but just what is it about libraries that is so hard to sell to our users? Is it the stuffy old Victorian image that still lurks around us wraithlike, despite our Twitter accounts, e-journals and the ability to convert your essay from single to double-spacing in seconds? Do our users harken back to bad run-ins with libraries from childhood - the scary librarian shhhhing them into oblivion? Or is going to the library an intimidating experience, reminding them of all the things they don't know? The classic excuse (especially for our busy doctors and nurses) is that there isn't enough time to go to the library. But I'm not sold on that one. Our job is to give the clinicians more time - we can run literature searches for them, track down the articles they need, point them in the right direction to find a piece of information to save them trawling through millions of Google results.

Free, high-quality information, when and where you need it. What is so hard to sell about that? And yet I'm starting to wonder maybe that's where the problem lies. You don't need to sell something that is free.

Now all of us working in libraries know our services aren't free - they cost a lot in terms of work, dedication and time as well as money. But our users might not always see that. They are getting something that costs them nothing. And although everyone likes a bargain, people tend to devalue things that don't cost them anything - it's just human nature.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this really - it's just a kernel of an idea forming in my head and I wanted to get it down before I forgot it. I'm by no means suggesting we should start charging for library services or make our users feel guilty by reminding them how much their service costs every time they come to the library desk but I think it may provide some kind of hint or clue into promoting and marketing our services. Defintely something to ponder on and may well become a running thread throughout my blog in future....

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Ash clouds and critical appraisal

Well there was a bit of drama in the Healthcare Library this week when my manager was caught up in the ash cloud mayhem and ended up being stuck in South Africa for over a week when he was only supposed to be there for 5 days. I think he's getting a flight out tomorrow and should be back with us on Tuesday, a week later than expected. To make things even harder on himself he's planning on flying out again on Friday, this time to Bulgaria! I bet you never thought librarians had such a jet-setting lifestyle....

I on the other hand had my feet firmly on the ground this week and had two group training sessions - one on Finding High Quality Websites (thinking I need a more catchy title...) and Critical Appraisal: Qualitative. The websites session ended up being a one-to-one as I didn't get many takers but there were four at the Critical Appraisal. I'd already run one of these back in early March so was feeling fairly confident but this one didn't go as well. The group was very quiet and then at some point one of attendees suddenly burst out complaining how qualitative research was all rubbish anyway as it was really down to personal opinion etc etc and although I tried very hard to steer it all back to the critical appraisal checklist it really never got back on track. At the beginning of every critical appraisal session I ask everyone how they would rate the article before appraising it and give them a choice of happy face, middling face and sad face. Weirdly the same guy who complained about qual research gave the article a middling face at the beginning and a happy face at the end! Maybe he was feeling bad about giving me such a hard time but it just made me even more confused...

Quite a few one-to-ones this week and one exciting outcome from one was the potential of being asked along to the Microbiology journal club to give a little talk on critical appraisal. I have also been trying to put together my dates for group training for the next 3 months - always very frustrating as I feel I'm picking dates and times out of the air and have no idea whether they fit in with people's work schedules. We also had a very inspiring talk on Map of Medicine at the London trainer's (CLIST) meeting on Thursday so am planning on sending out an email tomorrow encouraging people in the trust to give it a go.

Also coming up this week - another critical appraisal session, quantitative this time. Which I'm dreading even more now considering what happened this week. I also may be spending a bit of time out on the front desk as our library assistant is on holiday and I really must get my new dates out and do a bit of publicity this week. And apparently the D-Day for HLG conference bursaries is on Thursday so I will have my fingers and toes crossed for that. Oh and I really need to start thinking about thr the article I have been asked to write on Twitter for the Libraries for Nursing bulletin as copy must be in by mid-May! Looks like it's gonna be another busy one....

Monday, 19 April 2010

Monday Morning Post...

This post comes a bit later than usual this week - it has been a very busy one with lots of training courses, my final FILE session and two late nights. I didn't even want to think about libraries this weekend!

The highlight of the week definitely had to be my session with the music therapists on Thursday. It's always a bit nerve-racking giving a presentation in someone else's workplace as you're never sure of the set-up. I was warned ahead of time about them not having Powerpoint 2007 so had to adjust the presentation slightly. Luckily 'Supercomputer' has the old versions of Office loaded on it so it's very easy to test compatibility. Looking at my presentation in old Powerpoint made me recoil in horror - the new version is so much more flexible and easy to use! In any case everything went very smoothly and the therapists were an excellent audience - interested, knowledgeable and very excited about all the resources available to them! I got a lovely email from the head of the department the next day and she even copied the Associate Director of Child Health and Development in!

The final FILE presentation on Wednesday went pretty well although I definitely underestimated how much I could do in 20 mins. My next challenge is to find 3 or 4 willing volunteers to do the presentation to again so I can write up my final report by 18th May....

My strict statistics regime for keeping record of training is going well so far and I'm getting better at the screening questions before the start of a training session. This week I have Critical Appraisal: Qualitative on Tuesday and on Wednesday I have a one-to-one on finding and evaluating good quality websites. Speaking of which it is nearly 9.30 so I had better head off and get to work!

Friday, 9 April 2010

Is spring finally here...?

After a rather dull Easter weekend and greyish start to the week it feels like spring may finally have arrived and with it (hopefully) comes feelings of fresh beginnings and new starts. I'm not sure how much spring fever has infiltrated my work this week so far but I had a good meeting with my counterpart in one of the other three site libraries of the Trust this week about keeping records of the work we do. As a result I now have a shiny Excel spreadsheet with separate worksheets for one-to-one sessions, group sessions, training or meetings I have attended and best of all...Athens stats. I have not been very good thus far about keeping full records on my training and have come to regret it when my manager comes demanding statistics, statistics, statistics because the local primary care organisation wants to cut funding or the Trust wants to know it's getting it's money's worth from the library services....If nothing else it helps me remember what the heck I've done the last few months as try as I might I just cannot recall people's names, job titles or what I trained them on even just a few days later. Must be old age setting in...

This week's 'Wednesday Workshop' was on electronic care pathways as a number of products have sprung up in recent years and nobody seems to know about them! The two I concentrate on in this course are CKS (mainly primary care pathways) and Map of Medicine (for primary and secondary care). I can no means pretend to be a clinician but if I were I would find these programs rather marvellous as they walk you through, step-by-step each part of the patient journey from initial assessment to diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Certainly any time I've trained on CKS or MoM people have found them very useful. I need to think of ways to "sell" this course that will get people interested. Any ideas, please send them on!

Had a rather lovely one-to-one session with a local dentist this week as well. It was the first time I have done a guided search session on a medical history topic and the results were quite interesting! The dentist is currently building up a document collection on 'biomechanical trauma' in dentistry and is very interested in all things libraries. I have been charged with the tasks of finding the origin of ISSNs and who produces DOIs and instead of hitting Google I might just go through my library school notes and see what I can find.

Another busy one next week with a 'Staying Up-to-Date' group session on Monday, my final FILE presentation on Wednesday and (one I'm really looking forward to!) an information searching session with a group of music therapists on Thursday!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Managing References and Other Things...

Well this week saw the launch of my new information skills workshop 'Managing Your References', which was very well attended and much lively discussion was generated. Who would have thought managing references would be so controversial? But they are, especially when university degrees are on the line! The workshop started out with thinking about why we might want to manage references in the first place and what we might want to use references for, then moved on to different styles of referencing and managing. It was the referencing styles that seemed to get everybody's goat and where there were the most questions. And I have to ask myself really - just why are there so many styles of referencing? Harvard, Vancouver, Chicago, Turabian, APA, MLA, ACS....the list goes on and on and on. And it's so difficult to get a definitive answer about any of them. My basic advice to my trainees was to find out what style your university or the journal you are writing for prefers and use that, otherwise Harvard is a safe bet. But whatever style you choose or is chosen for you, stick to that one and that one alone.
I then talked a bit about reference management software, which none of my trainees had used before. I had hoped we would have got a subscription to RefWorks before this workshop took place but that seems a dim and distant hope now in our world of NHS budget cuts. We have Reference Manager on all of our library PCs but I find the program is clunky and unwieldly to use. Plus if you don't have it loaded on your own machine you can't use it at home! So for the practical session I got the trainees to register for CiteULike, a lovely little online programme that uploads RIS files, allows manual, URL, ISBN and DOI entries, creates a neat bibliography in a range of different styles and basically does most of the other things a reference management program should do quickly and easily online wherever and whenever you want. Plus there is nothing to download and it's free!
The first task I had set for the trainees (besides setting up a CiteULike account) was to enter a reference manually. I had assumed this would be quite an easy task to ease the trainees into using the site but was surprised how flumoxed they were by entering things like author, title and year into separate fields. I suppose as a librarian I am used to such things from cataloguing books and registering members and it was a sharp lesson on the importance of controlled fields - making sure you have all the fields entered uniformly. Importing references with an ISBN, DOI or URL or even better as an RIS file makes it all so much easier as the hard work has already been done by the database indexers! (Thanks guys....)
The workshop seemed to go down quite well though and it was an interesting topic to present.

Preparation for that took up the first half of my week and the rest of it was spent getting geared up for the next few weeks which are full of training sessions, inductions and meetings. Looking at my schedule on Wednesday afternoon made me wonder if I might have some sort of mental health death wish. I am hoping to get the majority of my FILE presentation done this weekend so I can concentrate my efforts on the staff training sessions but the next few weeks are definitely going to be hairy....

And a bit of good news this week was that we finally got the date for library school graduation! May 18th shall see me walking down the gilded aisle at London's Guildhall in my cap and gown to mark the end of a VERY long year!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Should you become a librarian?

This was posted on Facebook or Twitter (can't remember which) a few weeks ago and made me laugh on a Monday morning (a very rare occurrence)


You've only got one chance...

I often think the most tricky part of my job is knowing what our library users want from a library and information service, especially when it comes to training. Even when I do manage to convince someone they could do with a little information skills training I sometimes feel like I only have one chance to win them over and the best way to do this is to find out what they really need in terms of information to carry out their job. Of course the easiest way to find this out is simply to ask but it so easily slips my mind...the other day a GP came in for a refresher session and just before she arrived I had been battling with Reference Manager (which, btw is the most complicated, unwieldy, user unfriendly reference management program I have ever encountered) and no sooner had she sat down then I immediately launched into my usual spiel about accessing the the databases and building search strategies. After a few minutes the poor woman looked at me and said 'actually I wanted to find out about Map of Medicine...'
Of course you did. And if I had actually bothered to ask what you wanted out of the session before launching into automatic pilot I would have known that. Luckily I managed to recover from the mistake and she went away happy but I came away resolved to be much more proactive about finding out what the user needs first, rather than just assuming I know what they need.


I did my first 'Critical Appraisal: Qualitative Research' course this week and overall I think it went quite well. Most of the attendees had come to the Quantitative course a month earlier and were quite keen to chip in and share their thoughts and opinions. At the end one of the attendees actually expressed an interest in setting up a journal club, to keep the critical appraisal skills fresh and the others seemed interested in this too. I have no experience of setting up and/or facilitating a journal club but I think it would be quite fun and a way to reinvigorate the Trust's evidence-based practice and build upon the research work already taking place. If anyone has any experience of journal clubs I would be very happy to hear them and will keep you posted on any progress made!


In other news, I had the supreme privilege and delight of being filmed doing a presentation this week then had to watch it in front of my colleagues and get feedback. This was part of the Facilitating Information Literacy Education (FILE) course run by Susie Andretta at London Metropolitan University, which I have been doing since January. I can highly recommend the course and have learned a great deal from it but this was one of the more stressful weeks by far.
The filming bit wasn't so bad - we were put in front of a camera in a pokey little TV studio at the university but my fellow FILEers made up the audience, so after the initial shock of being in front of a camera I forgot it was there and it was just like giving another presentation.
Watching back later on was much harder and I felt a strange, almost out-of-body experience watching myself on the TV. I realised I spend way too much time looking at the screen, rather than the audience and definitely fluffed more than a few of my lines but all-in-all it wasn't too bad. I looked a lot more confident than what I felt and I didn't talk too fast or too quietly, which I am wont to do. I certainly wouldn't want to repeat the experience but I've definitely learned a lot about my presentation style and will work on my weak spots in future sessions.


Luckily I had Thursday and Friday off to recover from the trauma. This has been very pleasant but I am rather worried about my reference management training workshop next week, of which I have done barely any preparation for yet...oops! Will report back on how it goes (or doesn't go) next week.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

An Introduction

I am a librarian.
A few people are surprised when I tell them what I do for a living - "do librarians still exist?!" but more people are surprised when I tell them I work in a hospital library - "what do doctors need libraries for?!"
I am increasingly suspicious that some of our medical students are asking the same question actually, judging from the number of times I've seen the 'Wikipedia' page up on our library PCs recently.
Yes that Wikipedia - the one where 'facts' can be altered at the touch of a button.
By anyone, anywhere.
And yes, they are using it to look up medical information.
Yes, my heart is sinking too....
In any case I have decided to start this blog not only as a means to reflect on my work (the good and the bad) but to give a little insight into the role of medical libraries and librarians. It isn't always pretty but I love my job and feel librarians are needed more than ever in this era of free electronic information, especially in health and medicine.
My resolution is to write at least one post a week but I am terrible at sticking to resolutions so we'll just have to see.... It would be great if other people read this blog and have something to say about it but even if it just offers a chance to offload some of the pressures of the job, it will have fulfilled it's purpose.
By the way, the first sentence of this post is a lie.
I am actually an information skills trainer.
But nobody knows what the hell that is.