HSLG2013 – Day 2

Day 2 of the HSLG2013 conference opened with the HSLG Annual General Meeting.  The main theme of the AGM was the importance of member participation in working groups.   There is always a need for new people to participate in any of the groups or on the committee and as Brian Galvin pointed out, it is a wonderful career development opportunity.  Most of all however, in order for the HSLG to be able to continue to provide the range of member services it does, it needs members to step up and be the frontline.   This is particularly important for the CPD working group.

Having organised the carol-singing for Kilmacud Musical Society (KMS) for Christmas 2012, I now have a much greater sympathy for the committee members in any organisation.  It takes a lot of time and commitment to organise things and it isn’t fair to expect the same people to keep giving their time every year.  Or as our KMS chairperson put it; being a member doesn’t just mean you have rights, it means you have responsibilities.  The key responsibility is to participate in full and give some of your time to help make your club/group/society run as smoothly as possible.

Once the HSLG AGM closed, the day’s presentations started.  Dr Helga Sneddon took the lead, talking about how librarians can help practitioners to be more evidence informed.  The key ways in which we can help are by finding evidence that is relevant, by sourcing evidence which practitioners can understand and by managing their knowledge effectively.  Of course, getting the right evidence is only half the battle, the other half is getting it off the shelves and into practice.   As had been mentioned by previous speakers on Day 1, it is important to understand what the practitioner wants to do with the information in order to ensure we provide what they actually need.  Are they looking to change practice?  Influence policy?  Apply for a grant? Support an existing study?  Find stories/anecdotes to support an argument?   The last thing to consider is the terminology used.  Does it differ from team to team?  Or country to country?

Mairead Mullaney then followed Helga with a look at how we handle health information in our organisations.  Mairead was keen to stress that we cannot take for granted what people know or don’t know.   She went on to talk about setting up a shared drive within the Centre for Effective Services.  The first step was to set up subject categories and get everyone to use the same terminology, a task arguably best handled by a librarian.   In order to do this, it was necessary to engage with the subject matter experts to agree terminology and then to use that for any online or paper files.  Of course, a file management guide must be created in the first place so that people know exactly how to name their files and what acronyms to use.   This ensures that everyone manages their files in the same way and can be of great assistance in ensuring that knowledge is not lost when an individual moves to a new post or location.

Mairead distinguished between Information Management and Knowledge Management pointing out that Information Management is knowing that there are 10 files whereas Knowledge Management is knowing which of the 10 files to use to support your position.

A quick coffee break and time to talk with the sponsors was given before Michelle Dalton stepped up to talk to us about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics to support advocacy and service delivery.  There were actually two sections to her talk – the first was a discussion of why she set up metrics and the benefit to be derived from them, the second was about publishing her results.

Metrics, Michelle posited, provide the ability to justify the time you spend, or to assess the success (or failure) of a service you provide.  It can provide evidence to show how the library service impacts outcomes in your health organisation.   In Michelle’s case, she generated her metrics by appending a single question to the end of any clinical query response which she sent to a user.    Having only a single question made it much more likely that users would respond as a larger questionnaire would have been offputting, particularly for time-poor medical staff.

The decision to publish her findings was based on a desire to contribute to the evidence base for librarianship, to re-ignite her own curiousity and to develop new skills.   Michelle highlighted the importance of positioning your paper globally when talking about a local situation.  It is also important to consider who you are writing for.  Is it for medical staff?  Hospital management?  The wider LIS community?

The last piece of information which Michelle shared was that she is currently engaged in setting up an open access journal which will be called OALIS (www.oalisjournal.com).  The journal will be launching in January 2014.   I have to say, I am in awe of how much energy Michelle has.  As well as launching the journal, she already runs the Libfocus blog, publishes papers, runs a monthly Twitterchat and presents at conferences.   In addition to holding down the day job of librarian at UL.

Following Michelle was Greg Sheaf, Midwifery and Nursing librarian at Trinity College Dublin, to talk about information literacy training for undergraduate midwives.   Greg was approached by Joan Lalor to review information literacy training following findings that entrants to a new direct entry midwifery degree were not performing as well as expected in researching.  This was in line with the CIBER report “Information behaviour in the researcher of the future” which countered the common assumption that the Google generation is most adept as using the web.  It also found that there is zero tolerance for any delay and an impatience in search and navigation common to all age-groups, not just the Google generation.

The new information literacy training which Greg put in place benefited from the presence of a lecturer in the training course (as they could confirm whether the information found was the most relevant).  It was also important that the training was carried out in a computer lab as the students were able to actively engage with the training.  In addition Greg was able to measure the success of the training by using Firefox to assess site searches carried out.   As well as improving student research behaviour, the programme  built a rapport between the midwifery students and the library with students showing a marked increase in drop-ins to the library to talk directly to Greg.   Greg co-authored a paper on his findings which was published in the “Nurse Education in Practice” journal (Volume 12, Issue 5, September 2012).

Joanne Callinan, librarian at the Milford Care Centre (MCC) then spoke about the bibliotherapy programme which was run at the MCC.   Bibliotherapy is the therapeutic use of reading material (and also writing in some cases writing).  It can involve prescription of a self-help book by a GP or may be incorporated by a trained counsellor into the treatment of an identified mental health concern.

Evaluation of the bibliotherapy programme was carried out using:

  • semi-structured interviews with social workers and volunteers
  • audit of borrowing from the collection
  • book comments sheets (e.g. Did you find this book useful? Would you recommend this book to someone who has had a loss?)

MCC provides palliative care and when evaluating the programme, it was found that in many cases photocopying sections of a book on bereavement, rather than lending the full book, was most useful.   Individuals who are grieving, either pre or post the death of a loved one, cannot necessarily focus on a large volume of material.   However, the bibliotherapy was extremely helpful people in reassuring them that what they were feeling was normal.  Having material to take away allowed people to read and process it their own time.

Anne Madden then got up and spoke about the mentoring programme which the HSLG was setting up.   The importance of mentoring was one of the key findings from the SHELLI report and Anne showed a quick taster video about what mentoring involves, asking for participants to consider acting as either mentor or mentee.   Further details will be available from www.hslg.ie for anyone who is interested.

The conference was then brought to a close.  It was a fascinating two days and I have learned a huge amount.  I hope that my blog has given you a taste of what was on offer.  Although the conference focused on health libraries, there was a huge amount that could be applied to multiple library settings and I would absolutely recommend attending next year’s conference to anyone.   A huge round of thanks is due to the committee for organising it and to the speakers who gave such excellent presentations.  I really enjoyed it and I look forward to seeing what’s on offer next year.

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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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