Well beyond our walls at UHMLG18

My first attendance at a UHMLG Spring Forum was a positive experience with some inspiring talks that very much appealed to my desire to see positive work by health libraries in the world.

The presentations are available.  The one closest to interests at work was given by Antony Brewerton on what University of Warwick Library are doing around student wellbeing.  This is an important agenda across HE and the NHS and the scope and impact of their work was inspiring.  Recognising the needs of our students and addressing them in ways that drive engagement and create community is so positive.  I loved the idea of free fruit in exchange for sharing a revision tip.  The idea of hosting events related to some of the international students cultures was also a great way to help different student communities meet and address the feeling of being far from home.

I was also very interested to hear about the work of Evidence Aid.  This sounded quite a commitment time wise but with the potential to make a serious difference to workers out in the field.

A key message that came through the various talks looking at partnerships and projects in Low and Middle Income Countries was the imperative to have proper contact with the people on the ground.  This stands for all our interactions with library users (and non-users) where we need to be talking to them to understand what they need and where we might best make a difference.

The day closed with some lightning talks.  I would love to see an integrated membership form in our LMS as it could really free up time of the front of house team.  The Expo stage in the new Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland Library also presented a model for driving ownership and community.

I was one of the tweeting team for the day which I found fitted fairly well around the level of notes I would normally take.  I think I was probably too literal in my reporting some times but hopefully the links I added would have been helpful.

Some random nice extras were the recognition for Betsy Anagnostelis on her retirement and a bottle of champagne I won from one of the supplier stands!  A well organised and useful day. I hope to attend others.

Hum – just found this in draft – oops!


HLG2018 – searching, running and all the rest

In celebration of the HLG2018 conference slides having emerged it is time for some reflections.


This was my first time at Keele University and it was good to explore somewhere new (though not ideal as a conference venue since having found it on the map I then joined the general head scratching about how to get there).  I spent an unhappy hour on the bus from Stoke on Trent and was very fortunate to find a cab to share to get away again at the end.  The campus itself was green and pleasant all be it largely shut down for the summer.

I arrived a day ahead for the HILJ editorial advisory board (EAB).  We had a very productive discussion on the peer review set up for the journal.  Changes should make the peer review reports both easier to complete and more useful for the editorial team.  I was very aware that I do little reviewing and have since made a point of completing one for the journal with the aim to do more in future.  I also continued to flag my idea of driving ownership of the journal amongst HLG members by encouraging a quarterly CPD discussion group (more on this another time or see CILIP SocialLink stream under HLG!).  My involvement in the EAB is great for gaining an insight into the academic processes around journal publication. Do publish in HILJ folks!

A theme for the conference was wellbeing and as part of this I had volunteered to lead a run on the first morning.  I had an initial scout around and got totally lost and we then had a very successful #libraruns effort the next morning (where I lost most of the runners). A good time was had by most (if you run and use strava then join the libraruns club).

The conference started with an update from Nick Poole offering general news of things CILIP.  I get the impression Health remains one of the stronger parts of the membership.  We then heard from Dr Mark Murphy who got us thinking about grey areas in evidence and various lens through which we should consider Evidence Based Medicine.

I attended a session of a Knowledge for Healthcare related working group looking at stats for the NHS LKS.  I may have ended up going off at the deep end about metrics and do feel that the group have been given a brief somewhat too close to the one the metrics group already covered.

I was very taken with a presentation I did not attend (the wonders of twitter to be in more places at once) on a QI bookcase and linked up subsequently with the speaker to learn more.

Good fortune meant I chaired the session where Stevie Russell updated on the work of African Hospital Libraries I am very interested in the work of this charity and have managed to make some headway with making it an area of concern for my own service.  The other talk in the session was on a developing tool for providing Current Awareness Services to biomedical scientists using machine learning.  There was definitely something interesting there but it felt like something of a work in progress and one where librarians experience around delivering CAS could be very helpful.

Work on redeveloping buildings at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Royal College of Surgeons of England  offered contrasting takes with different challenges and needs.  The lack of quality literature on design decisions for new medical libraries was notable.

My favourite talk of the conference was by Kate Misso on reducing waste in systematic review work through the input of librarians to the search process. It was shocking to realise the poor quality of much of the searching under pinning systematic reviews with implications for the findings and reproducibility.  My least favourite was probably laughing yoga which I attended reluctantly as I wanted to hear the Biship and Le Fanu lecture on Evidence Aid that followed it.

For my own part I brought a poster on work I carried out around creating a simple title scheme to support guideline retrieval.

I always enjoy HLG conferences and 2018 was no exception (see my triumph in the raffle at the top of the post!).  It remains a key opportunity to catch up with colleagues and get a feel for what is happening around the place.



Journal Clubbing – Understanding Academics: a UX ethnographic research project at the University of York

Summer edition of my team journal club this time we read

Blake, M. and V. Gallimore (2018). “Understanding academics: a UX ethnographic research project at the University of York.” New Review of Academic Librarianship: 1-25.

I picked this article as I was interested both in the methods used and the potential findings.  I lead on UX work and Uni of York consistently do interesting things in the liaison and engagement sphere so this was an easy one to select.

Overall it left us wanting more.  The methodology section was very light and did not address a number of questions that would have been useful to support the article.  There is no detail of the recruitment strategy or of the semi structured interview schedule for example.  We wanted to know more about the cognitive maps and it would have been great to see a bit of these. While we know that new contacts were made we do not know to what extent the data were gathered from already friendly faces.  They would at least have been sufficiently well disposed towards the library to engage in an extended interview exercise.

The description of academic lives was felt interesting but not surprising. We did wonder if there was a nervousness in writing something that would be published and visible to the interviewees given the emphasis on relationship building.  Generally we wanted to push further into the questions.  A colleague had recently attended a “secret life of an academic” talk where a number of important topics were discussed that have not surfaced in the article at all.  We wondered about the absence of research data management from a library perspective.

Finally we wanted to know more about the changes that had resulted.  This was clearly a major undertaking and the need to see impact from this was felt imperative.  The section on how the data was used to generate user requirement for a change of Reading List software would have been brilliant to read – how did they do this? what difference did it make versus what was known already? etc.

Having said all this – it was a good article for our journal club prompting lots of discussion.  We had useful thoughts on what we might want to know from academics and how we might ask them.  And colleagues at York definitely have expertise and experience we would value!