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!

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