A hoohaah for Partnerships in Health Information #buildalibrarian

Partnerships in Health Information is a small charity I have supported for a number of years.  They work with African libraries to build capacity, support evidence based practice and improve public access to health information.

Last year I spent the morning exchanging knowledge with two Tanzanian librarians who had been hosted by PHI as Commonwealth Professional Fellows for a three month study tour in the UK.  It was a great reminder of the valuable work PHI do. I was also prompted by a tweet about #buyalibrary from a couple of years back. I hope people will be as keen to #buildalibrarian

I have registered to run in the Hoohaah run on the 21st of June. There is 10k to cover with a bit more by way of gradient than I am used to so it should be reasonably hard work.

I am using JustGiving as PHI have an account with them and as a very small charity this is a very effective way to get money to them.  I am not a great runner by any means – lumbering of foot and red of face.  You can track my early morning efforts on Endomondo if you want to be sure I am not slacking off.

If you can give a little something that would be great. Even better would be if you could give a little something and share what I am trying to do (https://www.justgiving.com/Hoohaah-for-PHI/). Or just share!


Bad pharma is good reading

Another book recommendation as I belatedly read books I should have read when they came out.

Bad Pharma is a book health librarians must read (anyone with an interest in how decisions are made on medicines would do well to do so) (wikipedia has a summary for the tl:dr crowd).

During the period I was reading it I ran more than my usual number of critical appraisal sessions and the book was a great source of new examples to call on as I discussed bias, ethics and the niceties of what gets published.  It does cause some issues as the picture of the extensive failings of our publishing system may leave people feeling somewhat deflated (it did me).

The chapters “missing data” and “bad trials” offer the richest source for improving understanding and helpful stories.  The final chapter on marketing is depressing in the extent of the work of drug companies in this area. More money is spent on marketing than research. Medical education is reliant on drug marketing money.

Very few of my trainees had read the book (though that might be why they were at my training) which surprised me given the profile of the author and the subsequent media coverage of All Trials.

Update catch up September 2014

On we go with another issue…

I was interested in the report of Arts Council research on the impact of automatic library membership. Sadly it seemed the research was a bit patchy with issues in getting going at many pilot sites. I can see similarities to work that has gone on in the NHS to blanket sign people up for eresources. The conclusion point to this being a boost to awareness but needing follow up to take advantage.

I liked the idea of the Random Coffee Trials (see what they did there?). This is a NESTA initiative to encourage knowledge sharing and networking within organisations. This could be worth a try as we look to work more closely across a large directorate.

Glad to see tales of a successful reinvigoration of a school library service thanks to a Foyle Foundation grant and the input of Librarian to make the most of this. You can read the article here. I am glad CILIP campaign on the importance of school libraries.

Also heartened by tales of CILIP Member Network in Yorks and Humber in the light of my muttering over the London MN and the need to find a way to drive more engagement and involvement in this.  We are helped in London by good transport links, hugely diverse professional environments and lots of people. Getting more of those people participating could do great things. The article on SLA ECCAs chimes with this – the vibes from SLA Europe people seems to often be more positive than that around CILIP. How to replicate some of that?

A last highlight was a piece on neogeography by a student. I hadn’t heard the term before but am very interested in the kinds of things it describes. I was fascinated by GIS in my first degree and will read more on this (see also volunteered geographic information).

Reflecting on Lean in

Nearly two years ago the Library Leadership Reading Group (steered by the super Jo Alcock) read Lean in By Sheryl Sandberg. I did not have access to a copy at the time but read commentary on it and watched her Ted video.

There was a really good twitter discussion in the group that you can read here.

Thanks to the serendipity of wandering the shelves at the Public Library I have finally got hold of a copy and read it (sadly the period between me borrowing it and reading it encompassed the death of the author’s husband David Goldberg). I am glad I took the time to read the book and would recommend it to all (it is a value packed 170 or so pages).

I am very aware that any comments from me come from a position of privilege. I also do not wish to share too much of what is not mine alone to share. Suffice to say that I recognise my own failure to do all I can do to advance equality at home and work.

The book strikingly presents some of the ways gender impacts on how people are perceived, treated and work. It places a challenge to men and women to address imbalances that remain significant. We need to talk about these issues and we need to work on addressing them.  I plan to do both – at home and at work.




Update catchup August 2014

Slightly scared that I am falling yet further behind with these!

The August 2014 issue has a beautiful image on the front from the National Fairground Archive and has probably travelled as many miles in my bag as many a travelling fair. I loved the article on this collection. It sits far from the things I am involved in professionally but I am always pleased to read about such a fascinating cultural treasures.

This issue has a report from HLG Conference which took place in sweltering heat in Oxford. I really enjoyed the conference offering up a version of my paper given in updated form at UKSG.  I also spoke as part of the CILIP Debate programme. There is a nice picture of me chatting with Donald Mackay at the end (and a great boggled eye one in the Dropbox collection for the conference.  I was on the losing side but this was no surprise since I had to advocate for hiring nurses using precious library funding. I gave a rather silly talk full of ill informed comment on the merits of the internet and the low level of need for our skills (not like librarians are the angels of the NHS eh?).  But I was very serious on the point that unless we act to defend our services they will get whittled away in a semi random fashion.

The article on tri-borough in London public libraries is interesting as a picture of one route forward for making the cuts that will face many services. I wonder how far such arrangements can extend – what is the most effective scale for a PL network? It is also interesting to read what @wylie_alan had to say about it after attending a CILIP in London event a couple of years back. Some things look like they could end up a bit thin – a public health officer for one borough is now spoken of as one for the tri-borough. Could be a bit busy! That said I am not sure the shift of Public Health from the NHS to local government has seen library provision survive very well.

The merger of Careers Development Group into the CILIP Branches to form Regional Members Networks seems a reasonable plan overall to me. That said I bumped into a member of the Cilip London RMN on the tube today (small place London) and it sounds like the committee is almost unchanged from when I was a member a couple of years back. A number of that committee have done very long service and I had hoped that the merger might prompt a renewal with fresh blood. Maximum terms of membership are supposed to be in place and I hope people will move aside to allow others to have a go.

Reading about Midlothian libraries I was struck by how similar our issues are in terms of needing to influence decision makers. A steady stream of data and stories is required to help people outside our world understand what we are busily up to.  The need for partners is also familiar. I was somewhat dismayed by the fact that the service is so short staffed that people are working through their holidays and in their own time.  This is simply not a sustainable way for people to live and for a service to operate.

Revalidation submission celebratory post

With only a slight hiccup due to my previous submission not having been marked as passed (rapidly rectified by Member Services) I have finally got round to submitting my CILIP Revalidation based on 2014 CPD activity.

It was great to take the time to reflect on a fairly hectic year. HLG conference was a highlight. I also felt the journal club I ran with colleagues at work was an excellent way to learn.

I was surprised quite how many libraries I visited in my travels.

I have not had a chance to join one of the seminars on obligatory revalidation but I am happy that it is a useful process for me.

This years celebratory tune from MJ Hibbett (minus the (re)validators) is a cover of Boom Shake the Room – enjoy!