11 Feb 2012

HSLG Annual Conference 2012

This year’s HSLG conference in Athlone offered delegates a unique opportunity to hear the key findings and recommendations of the recently launched SHELLI report delivered by the Loughborough University research team themselves. Dr Janet Harrison and Claire Creaser highlighted the three strategic areas which should be priorities for health science libraries: increasing visibility; identifying appropriate KPIs & systematically collecting evidence on the impact of libraries on healthcare and patient outcomes; and staff & service development. A workshop session then explored delegates’ views on the possible ways of achieving these recommendations in practice, including ways of encouraging clinicians to provide regular feedback on how they use the information we provide.

Sarah Glover and Jenny Kendrick from the National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence offered a fascinating insight into the rigorous and complex process of carrying out systematic review searching for both intervention procedures and shorter clinical guidance. It typically takes five working days to devise and assess the most appropriate MEDLINE search strategy for each clinical question, and this is then replicated for other databases including EMBASE and Cochrane Library. NICE also make use of the InterTASC ISSG Search Filters. For many in attendance including myself, literature searching represents a significant component of our day to day workload, and I picked up some interesting tips including the value of adding a narrative to search strategy documentation.

A series of lightning presentations by HSLG members encapsulated a flavour of the projects currently being undertaken in health science libraries across the country, including the successful introduction of a new bibliotherapy collection for staff in Tallaght Hospital Library (Jean McMahon) and a Pathways to Learning (PAL) initiative to extend library access for users in the Midlands (Michael Doheny, AIT). Anne Madden (SVUH) explained the concept of 'Teach Meets' as a way of sharing expertise in a more informal setting - particularly relevant for those finding it difficult to attend more formal CPD and training events. A couple of different Teach Meet groups have already got off the ground in Dublin and the Limerick/Shannon region. Nicola Fay offered her solution to managing the difficulties involved in purchasing journals across the HSE Midlands region, Niamh O’Sullivan from the IBTS showcased a novel way to promote library services through a children’s art competition, and I presented an overview of some useful free resources for producing online tutorials and e-learning content.

The conference concluded with Louise Farragher’s discussion of her emerging role as an embedded librarian in the Health Research Board, which underlined the importance of building relationships with researchers. Connecting people with information forms the backbone of any library’s strategy, however Louise’s experience served as a reminder that perhaps sometimes we need to focus less on the information and more on the people.

The conference also provided a useful opportunity to catch up on new products and resources. Clinical search tools which bridge the gap between summarised point of care products like Up-To-Date and traditional databases like MEDLINE, appear to be the latest trend. Elsevier’s forthcoming Clinical Key will allow users to search for and access the full text of all ‘clinically relevant’ Elsevier content (I wonder what their definition of ‘clinically relevant’ is?). Ovid’s recently launched OvidMD product looked particularly interesting. The interface allows users to search MEDLINE and a selection of Current Opinion journals, and the results are semantically ranked to ensure clinical content is prioritised above research-oriented material. Libraries that subscribe to Up-To-Date can also integrate this with the OvidMD interface to provide users with a single solution for both point-of-care queries and more detailed and in-depth information for clinical practice.

In short, another excellent conference organised by the hard-working HSLG!


  1. excellent stuff. got a lot of milage out of that one as i do not have direct working med library experience. so many thanks for that :-)

  2. Really helpful synopsis, thanks, and helped make sense of my own notes! Congrats to the organising Committee for another great conference. The lightning presentations are a fantastic idea - great examples of initiative and inspiration from the group.

  3. Anne, I just realised I forgot to mention your Teach Meet talk. I shall try and make amends and edit my post, forgive me! I completely agree that the committee did a fantastic job in offering a real breadth of topics on the programme as well.