HSLG 2013 – Day 1 – the afternoon

It’s a tribute to the quality of speakers at a conference when the lightning rounds at the end of the day can make you sit up and go “Wow!  What a great idea!” and that was exactly my experience when listening to Grace Hillis at HSLG2013.   But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After the lunch break (a very nice relaxed soup and sandwiches during which I had the chance to meet Gethen White, one of the guest speakers for the afternoon and Michael Doheny, HSLG Secretary) the afternoon kicked off with a presentation from Dr. Declan McKeown, from the HSE Health Intelligence unit, who spoke about the Tyranny of Evidence – people are so swamped with information that the real challenge is how to filter it.   This is where Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) and the tools of critical appraisal are vital.   He commented that within the medical profession (and no doubt this can be applied to many other professions) it is only through sharing information with other colleagues that it becomes  received wisdom and only once it becomes wisdom can it be used to influence and change policy.

As librarians we need to support clinicians by tracking down the best evidence with which to answer their queries, or support their research, critically appraising it for its validity and usefulness (and teaching clinicians to do the same).  EBM is vital for clinicians to allow them to unpick bad science.  Here reference was made to Ben Goldacre whose book Bad Science I can personally recommend as a very engaging look at pseudo-science and media influence on medical scares and trends.  Declan also highlighted the need for awareness of data misrepresentation, noting that journalists, health planners, governments, academics, applicants for funding and many others, may all misrepresent data for their own reasons – one of the biggest culprits being large pharmaceutical companies (Big Pharma).  It is therefore vital that librarians critically appraise any material before furnishing it to clinicians, who frequently do not have the expertise or the time to do this.

Paul Murphy from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RSCI) spoke about bibliometrics (methods to quantitatively analyze scientific and technological literature) as evidence and the issues surrounding them.  Metrics fall within the appraisal of clinical and higher education assessment and are frequently used to support funding applications, job applications (“this is how many articles I’ve published and this is how many times they’ve been cited” ) etc.   As noted by Michelle Dalton, another guest speaker, they can also be used directly by librarians to justify the work we do on a daily basis.   Paul went on to note that librarians could benefit greatly by becoming experts in bibliometrics  and establishing the library as a stakeholder in research management.    A key learning point for me was that it is possible for individuals to create profiles in Google Scholar which will allow them to track citations.  It can also be used to ensure that their profile appears whenever their name is used as a search term.

Gethen White from HSE Library East then presented on CLIKS, the Clinical Library and Information Knowledge System which was developed within the HSE, initially as a clinical query service (but over time other things were added as the project evolved).  Gethen highlighted the importance of clinical librarians who make a difference by informing the development of safe national  practice guidelines and by saving doctor’s time.   Gethen went on to note that piloting the clinical query service allowed clinicians to ask queries that might otherwise not have reached the library.  It was also a good way to break the library stereotype by proactively seeking queries.  Coming out of the library to meet clinicians face-to-face allowed the librarians to engage in relationship building as well as championing new technologies and highlighting the professional services offered by the library.   A subsequent survey indicated an 88% satisfaction rate with the clinical service query.

For the lightning rounds the first speaker was Grace Hillis, the librarian at the St Vincent’s Centre in Navan which is run by the Daughters of Charity, who gave a fascinating talk about her work with bookclubs for people with intellectual disabilities.   The bookclubs were set up following a US format which was kindly shared by the Next Chapter Book Club.   The club provides a social setting for its members where they read pages of the book to the group.  It has the added benefit of allowing them to carry out tasks such as ordering a coffee or handling money because the meeting takes place in a coffee shop or McDonalds.  Volunteers use supporting materials to help the members engage with the book themes.  So for example, a doll might be passed around as part of story about a little girl who needs a back operation.  Grace also demonstrated the use of a tool which can rolled over text on a page to allow the words to be read out loud, for users who are unable to speak.

Having giving us plenty to think about, Grace was followed by Niamh O’Sullivan from the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) who I have been fortunate to meet at a number of conferences lately.  Niamh talked to us about developing the brochure for the IBTS library, highlighting the importance of making sure that people in your organisation are aware of all the additional tasks you carry out – a key message which I have heard voiced by numerous librarians over the last few months.  In Niamh’s case she included a list on the back of her brochure indicating her roles with the IBTS intranet, the iBytes newsletter and other things.

Louise Bradley, Resource Manager at the Institute for Public Health spoke about the Health Well website, a portal which is the result of a collaboration between several websites on the island of Ireland, in conjunction with UCC, UCD and Queens University, Belfast.    It is a mutually beneficial arrangement which provides users with  a single point of information access and drives traffic to the constituent websites.

Anne O’Byrne spoke about developing a research database in the Rotunda Hospital, noting that the Rotunda has actually been engaged in research since the 1700’s with one of its more important findings being that into foetal heartbeats.

Laura Rooney Ferris followed with a talk on developing a strategic plan for the “Death Library” (known to the rest of us as the Irish Hospice Foundation library) and the impact which that had in terms of organisation perception.  The strategic plan allowed for a realignment of the library resources with the educational needs of the staff in the hospice and embedded the library into the organisational structure.

Unfortunately I had to leave before Mary Dunne’s presentation, so I can’t tell you anything about that.   Apologies Mary!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a write up on Day 2 of the HSLG2013 conference.  Keep reading…

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About Caroline

Librarian. Bibliophile. Information seeker and sharer. “Life would be unbearably dull if we had answers to all our questions.” ― Jim Butcher, Death Masks
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