26 May 2014

HSLG Annual Conference 2014: Synergy: skills, standards and collaboration among health librarians

Guest Post by Caroline Rowan, Assistant Librarian, UL.

Last year I attended the Health Sciences Library Group conference as an MLIS student still trying to figure out what type of librarian I wanted to be. This year, I’m still figuring that out but, having worked in a medical library and now working in an academic library, I’m feeling a lot more clued in to the options which are out there. This year’s conference (on 22&23 May) was also my first time presenting at a library conference.

Brian Galvin, Chairperson of the HSLG, opened the conference noting that it has been a difficult 5 or 6 years for health librarians. He went on to say that the implementation of SHELLI will provide us all with challenges and that the success of the HSLG over the last has been due to the dedication and hard work of its committees, working groups and active members. He then announced that in 2017, the HSLG will be hosting the International Congress of Medical Librarians in 2017, so that’s an event we should all be putting in our diaries now!

The Speakers

The first speaker up was Eli Harriss from the Bodleian Health Care Libraries, who talked to us about the outreach programme which she and her team operate in Oxford. Outreach is an essential part of the Oxford library services, in particular because the physical library is located (a small distance) away from the hospital so it can be hard to generate library awareness in the healthcare staff. Outreach includes attendance on ward rounds, at case meetings, running a Transplant, Renal and Urology blog and the Oxford Radiation Oncology blog, searching clinical trials, emails to new doctors to introduce the library and its services, the library website, posters, email alerts for new resources and many other items.

Next up was Dr. Kathleen MacLellan, Director of Clinical Effectiveness with the Department of Health. Her presentation was on the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC) whose mission is to provide a framework for the quality assurance and endorsement of national clinical guidelines and audit which can then be endorsed by the Minister for Health. She opened her presentation by saying “We love librarians. We see you as key and critical to our clinical effectiveness agenda” which generated requests for support for librarians later in the session.

The development of national clinical guidelines is intended to improve safety and quality across healthcare services in Ireland by reducing variability and improving the quality of patient care decisions. Kathleen was keen to stress that the focus is on doing it right and not necessarily copying from other previously used guidelines. Consequently it can take up to 2 years to develop robust guidelines. Kathleen acknowledged that the provision of evidence (in the form of research studies) to support the development of clinical guidelines has been instrumental in the confidence which consultants have in the guidelines which are being developed. She noted that there would be new contract jobs advertised over the coming days, so all job-hunting librarians should keep any eye out for those!

After the coffee break, Anne Murphy and Jean McMahon from Tallaght Hospital and Niamh Lucey from St. Vincent’s Hospital updated us on SHELLI, noting that the recommendation relating to librarians promoting their services was fully addressed and that the focus now is on the evidence recommendations (Read the full SHELLI report here). The tasks now ahead include:

  • Developing a toolkit for collecting evidence of the value of health libraries 
  • Developing a system to analyse and interpret this data to extract meaning on a national scale.
  • Encouraging, supporting and empowering health librarians to review their effectiveness. 
  • Creating a working group to promote the use of the toolkit and offer training, mentorship and other methods of support. 
  • Creating a database of case studies of successful projects which demonstrates how information professionals have made a positive impact on their organisations.
Bennery Rickard, a Regional Librarian with the Health Service Executive (HSE) was the first speaker after lunch, talking to us about work planning not just for our individual selves, but as a collaborative tool. Bennery highlighted that planning enhances collaboration because planning is about motivating people to get things done.

Other benefits of work planning include that it:

  • Defines the work and provides a framework 
  • Clarifies what is expected of you, how you are expected to complete it and by when 
  • Provides a basis to discuss progress and barriers 
  • Facilitates shared problem solving 
  • Aids governance and decision making 
  • Provides the opportunity to give and receive feedback 
  • Aids record-keeping (particularly important when trying to provide evidence of what you have done during a particular time period).
Then it was my turn. I was presenting with my colleague Aislinn Conway, on a feedback survey which I had created and implemented in November 2013 (in University Hospital Limerick) as well as the responses to it, including the quality improvement programme currently being run by Aislinn. The 492 survey responses I received detailed problems ranging from a lack of awareness of the library’s existence, to misconceptions around who could use it, to a lack of use of the library’s online resources. In response I developed a back-to-basics newsletter which highlighted the library’s existence, provided hyperlinks to key resources and provided explicit instruction on registering for Athens access. I also developed a Frequently Asked Questions factsheet for incoming HSE Mid-West staff inductions. In addition, I negotiated sponsorship from Elsevier for a new feedback survey on the latest resource purchased for the library (Elsevier’s ClinicalKey). Lastly, I drafted a report on the feedback survey for the Library Management Group which I also furnished to Aislinn who was the incoming librarian for the library. Aislinn then spoke about the transitional state of the library, her quality improvement programme and the SQUIRE guidelines which she is using to drive it. She also spoke about the experiential ClinicalKey survey we had created in April 2014 and its results. She then detailed the training plan which she has developed in response to the November 2013 survey. The training plan starts with basic library skills and progresses through systematic reviews to evidence-informed practice sessions which are something Aislinn has extensive experience with.

We had a quick break and then the lightning presentations began, with Joanne Callinan as the first speaker. Joanne spoke about the need for a checklist for literacy friendly healthcare settings, noting that literacy affects every aspect of daily living – listening, speaking, reading, writing and numeracy. According to the National Adult Literacy Agency, 25% of the Irish population experience difficulty with everyday reading material e.g. following instructions on everyday medicine. This is something which needs to be particularly recognised with health information as different settings required a different set of literacy skills. Health information can be difficult to comprehend and difficult to access and use at the best of time, but in addition, emotions can impact ability to understand. Therefore patient information leaflets, signage etc all need to be written in a manner which facilitates maximum understanding.

Niamh Lucey was next up talking about her personal experience of two massive open online courses which she had completed. The first was in Health Technology Assessment via ScHARR, University of Sheffield. It was very intensive and useful but took up a lot of time. The course recommended 3-4 hours a week, but Niamh felt it required quite a lot more to support the learning. The second course she completed was Foundations of Psychology. Hosted by Open2Study, it consisted of a series of YouTube videos and then multiple choice questions. Niamh noted that the benefits of MOOCs include learning at your own pace and at your own convenience, but she emphasised that you must be very interested in the subject and make time for it!

Sarah Kennedy, Royal College of Physicians in Ireland and Kate McCarthy, Digital Repository of Ireland spoke about their capstone project which was on General Practitioners’ Information Seeking Behaviour: An Irish Perspective. Their results showed, amongst other things, that 65% of respondents never used a library! Sarah and Kate proposed an information literacy sales strategy which included highlighting the benefit of librarians in:

  • Saving GPs time
  • Providing instruction on the best types of technology to quickly access information 
  • Identifying scenarios for using libraries and library resources to support GPs in their daily work.
 They hope to publish a paper on their project so keep an eye out for this.

Day Two of the Conference will be reviewed in a forthcoming post.


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