Monthly Archives: August 2012

Thing 16: Advocacy

When I hear the words advocacy I mostly think about the work to defend public libraries from people who don’t see the value of the library services. But in sectors such as healthcare, we have a need to advocate within our own organisations, to promote the service to clinical staff (such as doctors, nurses, therapists etc etc…)

I haven’t really had a chance to get involved in Advocacy, although I have been reading the CILIP pages on advocacy in health care ( get-involved/advocacy/healthcare/Pages/default.aspx)

As a Library service we do a lot to promote our services; things like literature searching and document supply that sometimes have a direct impact on patient care within the hospital. But when we mention these services to the clinical staff, some of whom have been here a long time, they often say something along the lines of ‘I didn’t know you did that’ or worse ‘I didn’t know we had a library’ (this has only happened once, but it still annoys me!)

On the other hand we also have ‘regulars’, doctors, nurses and others who regularly phone up, or drop in, and ask for a literature search or ‘can you get hold of this article’ and that makes it seem worthwhile – but I wonder how many of them give us credit for helping. I’m currently in the middle of a literature search for someone who will be giving a presentation to colleagues. Will she mention the library helped her? Probably not, but word of mouth in similar situations (getting people to advocate on our behalf) is probably the best way to promote our services within the hospital, as well as demonstrating the impact that the library has on patient care.

We’ve recently re-launched our library’s user group – representatives from each professional and student group meeting to discuss library related topics. Its purpose is two fold – we have a focus group we can discuss the library with, but it gives our users a voice in the library too. We would also hope that these users also go back to work and discuss these topics with the people they represent, thereby advocating for our service, however inadvertently, but it’s hard to get a number on how many actually do this.

We have also recently started conducting Impact Assessments of our Literature Searching service and Information Skills Training – asking questions like “do you anticipate that, in the future, it may lead you to change some aspect of patient care?” We haven’t been doing it long enough to have decent figures, but the hope is we can demonstrate how often these services impact things like patient care and teaching/learning opportunities, which will help us advocate for our service within the hospital.

We’ve also started sending in articles to the new staff magazine. One was to launch our new Leisure Collection, another was to congratulate a long serving member of staff on gaining her Chartership – but I think it all works towards a goal of reminding people we are here. If they don’t know what services we offer, they still (sometimes) pop in and ask ‘can you help me with…’ and usually we can (or we know who can!) and I think that sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference.


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Thing 15: Seminars, Conferences and Other Events

I’m lucky that I’ve been able to attend quite a few events so far this year. I went to a West Midlands Health Libraries Network seminar in February, the CILIP West Midlands Information and Networking Day in April and the Health Libraries Conference in July. I think that it’s worth asking your line manager about every event you want to go to. If they say no, or it’s not possible, at least they know you’re interested, and maybe next time they’ll say yes! Thankfully my line manager promotes our professional development and encourages us to attend (where the budget allows).

For the Health Libraries Conference, I applied for a free members place to attend, and not only was I awarded one, but they contributed to my travelling expenses too. I think if you are eligible for things like that then you should apply – all I had to do was send a copy of my CV and 500 words saying why I wanted to go. It was quick, pain free and it paid off! I’m really glad I went, I had a great time, I learnt lots of new things and I met some great people. The freebies from the exhibitors didn’t hurt either! In regards to what worked and what advice I would give, I have to say the main one would be to give your self time to travel. I travelled to Glasgow the day before the conference, and yes it meant I paid for an extra night at the hotel, but it was worth it. Not only did I get a chance to do the ‘tourist thing’, but I didn’t feel like I was rushing to get there. A lot of people left early too, and it seemed a shame to have travelled all that way to then miss some of it.

Because my July has been so busy I missed this year’s conference for the Career Development Group. It was disappointing because I recently joined the West Midlands division committee, it would have been nice to go and represent the group, and doubly disappointing because it was held in Birmingham this year so there wouldn’t have been much travel involved, but there’s always next year, and maybe I can visit another new city like I did for HLG!

In the future I’d really like to present at a Conference too. I think it would be an amazing experience, even if I were presenting as part of a group, or in a small slot. Public speaking doesn’t make me as nervous as it used to – doing the ‘library bit’ to 50+ people during hospital inductions for new staff solved that a long time ago! I don’t know how I’d fair in a lecture theatre to huge numbers, but it’s one of those things you work up to, so I guess I’ll face that one when I get there! I’ve already been published in both the Career Development Group West Midlands newsletter and the HLG newsletter, so I’ll start by working my way into Journal articles and see what presenting opportunities arise in the future!

I can’t even imagine how much work goes into organising something like the Health Libraries Conference, but I think it’s something I’d like to have a go at in the future (although maybe on a smaller scale!) I am a member of the West Midlands Para-Professional group, who organise training sessions for Library Assistants, but nothing has fallen on my shoulders yet, so maybe I’ll gather some training ideas ready for our next meeting and see what happens!

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Thing 14: Referencing Software

I’ve never used Zotero, Mendeley or CiteULike, although I have used similar products. The university I did my Masters at used Endnote and when working from home I used the web version with an MS Word add-on. I found it fairly easy to use, although adding the first few references by hand was annoying, until I found the import feature! This had an extra few steps when using the web version, I had to save files to my computer and then import them. Ultimately I gave up on it by the time it came to my Dissertation, because I was studying in the work library after hours, usually on the library computers without access to Endnote and it was (or at least seemed) easier to just write the references out.

The University that my Library service works with recently started using Refworks, and I signed up to get familiar with it so I could advise our student users and I get along with it quite well. Importing references from online databases is much easier and I can attach pdf’s too – which has made it much easier for me to keep track of articles I’ve been reading while doing my Certification (more so than just saving them all to my USB pen, as I have more info than just the file name to go on when trying to find something).

Two similar products I use at work are Delicious, which is more of a web page bookmarking site, although it sees very little use now compared to when we first started using it, and Connotea, which is another bookmarking site, but aimed at academics and professionals. We use the later to link to publications written by members of staff at our Trust and we can run RSS feeds (through Yahoo Pipes) into the Netvibes pages we set up for the Clinical Centres to show a list of papers on a given subject, using the tags in Connotea. Our Connotea page has proven to be quite popular, more so than the Delicious page, and I think linking it to the Netvibes pages has been a big part of this.

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Thing 13: Google Drive, Wikis and Dropbox


An old friend made the suggestion a few months ago to use Dropbox to back up important files instead of a memory stick. Admittedly he may have been angling for the extra storage space he received by suggesting it to me, but it makes sense to keep these things off the computer. In Thing 9 I mentioned a friend who lost both his University assignment and the back up file on his USB when his computer crashed and took out the USB pen with it – having a copy online would have saved him a lot of typing!

I don’t use Dropbox as much as I probably should – but it’s so easy to drag and drop files in the folder on my desktop which then syncs with the online drive. I can then access these files from the website, although annoyingly it’s blocked on our NHS network so I can’t use it for work documents. I haven’t had a need to share documents on there, but I have played with it a little and getting the URL link is literally as easy as pressing a button (or two).


I haven’t done much posting to Wikis, but that’s about to change – a workgroup I’m in with the Regional Trainers Forum is setting one up for us to share documents to save us emailing them back and forth (some were quite big and took up nearly all of my inbox!) I’ll probably add a bit more to this post when I’ve had a go with it!

My Library has an invite only WordPress Blog that we refer to as our wiki. We share an LMS with another local Trust so we don’t have access to a Shared Drive to store related documents on. It’s really simple to upload documents and link to them on a page to make browsing easy and we use the blog to share notes from training sessions and conferences that we’ve attended. I think if we were to re-do, or overhaul, the site we would probably go with a proper wiki page, just for ease of use, but it works very well for it’s purpose.

Google Drive sounds like a really useful tool – and I can see possible uses for me with my voluntary work, as well as for inter library collaboration. It seems very similar to a wiki – although I imagine its easier for a small or early stage project as you probably have less things (like home/web pages etc) to set up, just log in and off you go. Next time people start emailing documents back and forth I might suggest this and see how much easier it makes things!

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Thing 12: Putting the Social into Social Media

I have to admit, despite all the best intentions with Social Media – I am a bit of a ‘lurker’! I check my Twitter and Facebook feeds regularly, and I post fairly often, but when it comes to interacting, I think I fall a bit short in that respect. I think it boils down to just not knowing what to say in response, or being wary of ‘not contributing’ to the discussion, but I’m going to resolve to be more (inter)active this week and see where it leads!

Twitter has been the most useful for connecting to people, both in my sector during the Health Libraries Conference last month and in other sectors, such as during the CILIP West Midlands Information and Networking Day I went to in April. I’ve been able to share pictures and have conversations with people about the event, even if I didn’t get a chance to talk to them in person during the event. Hashtags make it really easy to find out who’s talking about the event/topic and from there I’ve found some really interesting people to follow.

I’ve joined groups on Facebook for the CILIP special interest groups I belong to, but it’s a bit harder to interact on Facebook because starting a conversation is different to noticing someone’s Twitter hashtag.

This year my Library service branched out into Social Media with Twitter and Facebook pages. We’ve had a blog for a while and it’s been quite popular and we wanted to build on this. The Twitter has been fairly successful – we have 15 followers, mostly other hospital libraries, but increasingly individuals, presumably people who work at our Trust.

I have to admit the Facebook account has been a bit of a disappointment in this regard – we have three followers, all of them Library staff! The Facebook page is my responsibility and I’ve tried to post interesting information and links to the page so that people visiting it can see something, but no takers as yet. What annoyed me, was when I recently tried to post a message on the Event page for a fund-raiser the hospital had for our new Cancer unit (to wish luck to a colleague who was participating) my message showed, but without my username being shown, which to me seemed illogical! I can understand they don’t want Pages spamming users, but this seemed an obvious way to promote my page and I ended up deleting the message. If no-one knows who it’s from why leave it there!! I’m currently facing the realisation that we may just have to give up, although I’m planning at least one last push for users first!!


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Thing 10: Librarianship Training Options and Thing 11: Mentoring

Ooops! I knew I was behind on my CPD23, but I didn’t realise just how busy my July was going to be! Luckily I’ve written most of the posts, I just need to publish them! Things 10 and 11 are closely linked for me so they are sharing a post!

I have almost finished my CILIP Certification portfolio – and I have to say that I would recommend it to Library/Information Assistants, especially those who want to use it as a step towards Chartership.

My Bachelors and Masters Degrees aren’t in Librarianship (Literature and Information Technology respectively) so when I decided that I wanted to qualify as a Librarian I didn’t particularly fancy doing another Masters, especially considering that I only graduated from the last one in September 2011, so I had a look online at the alternatives. Certification is designed with Library Assistants in mind, but can be used as a step towards Chartership for those who are qualified in a different field, such as myself. If anyone wants details about what is involved, let me know! I’ve really enjoyed building my Portfolio and it’s given me a chance to get out of the library too as I’ve attended Certification/Chartership training days as well as gotten involved in CILIP training events and even the Career Development Group (West Midlands) committee, none of which I would have done otherwise – I’ve even made some friends!

Another advantage has been getting a Mentor. My Line Manager suggested someone from a different Library Sector as they will be less familiar with the environment you work in and will ask different questions (such as about acronyms you might use without thinking, but which aren’t used in other sectors) which in turn is great preparation for sending your portfolio to the assessors who may not be from your sector either.

I’ve had some good discussions with my Mentor and I think that’s it’s a good thing to have contacts in a different sector too. My mentor has been really supportive during my Certification process and just having someone to proof read it makes all the difference when I’ve been staring at a page endlessly – I could fiddle with the portfolio continuously without ever deciding it was finished, so I made the decision to send sections to my Mentor and after she had ok’ed them to not touch it afterwards!

The Blogpost on CPD23 lists few qualities of a good mentor and mentee – and I would like to add a tip to this for anyone working towards Certification (or even Chartership). When I went to my first meeting with my mentor, she was impressed that I had started my portfolio and was already gathering evidence (in fact I had started saving things and taking photos of displays etc when I first decided to work towards Certification). My mentor said that meeting with someone with nothing to look through was a waste of time, so even if you only have rough notes and disorganised evidence, it’s better than turning up to the first meeting empty handed.


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