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.