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!


  1. Glad you didn't let some people spoil your weekend and hope you get some good feedback.

  2. Oh wow, not surprised you were hurt/angered by that! What a kick in the teeth. Is there anything planned to try and demonstrate to this funder the value of what you do? I know it's tough to feel like you've got to constantly justify your existtence, but if someone is that misinformed about the time and effort needed to do your job and the value of your service then it's probably worth taking the time to show them why they're wrong!

    As for the person who said "we've got Google haven't we?" - maybe this report might be of interest?

    Glad you had a positive week otherwise, hope the ignorant comments of a few didn't ruin too much for you!

  3. Hurray - you have a blog! I never knew. Now I can follow your libarianistic thoughts - keep em coming :-) I've linked from my blog, too.