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 (http://www.cilip.org.uk/ 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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