8 Jun 2015

HSLG 2015 Conference, (Athlone 14/15 May) Joint Report

This is a joint report of the recent HSLG 2015 Conference recently held in Athlone. It is written by Delegate and speaker Maura Flynn and Elaine Harrington who followed the event on Twitter.
The idea for the #blogoff came from an exchange on Twitter. We were happy to oblige...

Maura Flynn - (Health Sciences Librarian at UCC Library)

Day 1 featured parallel day long CPD sessions, featuring critical appraisal training and secondly presentation, communication and management skill training.  I opted for the former, which was delivered by Mala Mann, Cardiff University.  Mala has considerable experience of undertaking systematic reviews and evidence syntheses projects.  I have written an overview of my thoughts on Day 1 for HINT.
The walls were graced with posters on a variety of topics from Louise Farragher, Bennery Rickard, Mairea Nelson, Diarmuid Stokes and Niamh O’Sullivan.  Unfortunately I could not attend the AGM or Conference Dinner but I’d love to hear about both in the comments from those who attended.  
Day 2 began with a presentation by Dr. Sara Burke, a health policy analyst, journalist and broadcaster.  Sara provided a very informative presentation about the current healthcare situation, policy commitments versus delivered improvements, sustainability, equity of access and financial considerations.  She highlighted the fact that some of our practices, for example, charging for Primary Health Care and Emergency Department visits, do not happen elsewhere in Europe.  In spite of equity issues, Sara argues that there have been some improvements recently, such as quality improvements in some areas, from the National Clinical Programmes, reduced drug costs etc.  However significant challenges remain and Sara suggests that the current crisis is largely due to bad decisions made and good decisions not made.  Sara also spoke about the work of Richard Corbridge, the HSE’s Chief Information Officer and recommended Richard’s blog.  Interestingly Sara said also that she wasn’t aware of Health Science Librarians before being invited to speak at the conference, so again this emphasises the need for increasing visibility of Health Science Librarians!
Next up was Jane Burns, from RCSI, who spoke about transferrable skills of Librarians into Research Environments.  Jane’s presentation was very inspiring as she shared her own insights about transitioning between roles using a framework called RITE:

Jane Burns, HSLG 2015 slide from presentation:  Evolution or Extinction Transferable Skills of Librarians in Research Environments

Jane showed the interconnectedness of these skills and shared how she moved into a research-based role with self-directed upskilling.    
Next up was Diarmuid Stokes, who explored the evolution of subject support in UCD Library, from 1997 to date, using a variety of different content management systems, including terminal 4 and LibGuides.  In 2011 UCD Library removed such guides, but subsequently reinstated and effectively reinvented them using LibGuides.  
Next up was Anne O’Byrne who provided a history of the National Document Supply Co-Operative amongst Healthcare Libraries.  Commencing in 1982 as a communication forum, it progressed in 1991 to form the Irish Healthcare Libraries Inter-Lending Co-Operative, a non-profit document supply service. Anne acknowledged the contributions of many past Co-Operative members.  Current constraints include a loss of members and holdings, due to staff shortages, changes to copyright and licensing.  Anne highlights the importance of retaining the goodwill and motivation which underpinned the Co-Operative despite the challenging current environment.
Laura Rooney-Ferris gave the next presentation about developing a workshop with a Clinical Psychologist on social media and grief.  Laura shared some of the theory behind this concept, which was fascinating. The workshop was developed to make professionals aware of how social media platforms can be used by the bereaved and the pros and cons of same and finally to encourage them to evaluate social media usage in this context.
I delivered the final presentation before lunch about my experience contributing to reviews in multidisciplinary teams within UCC.  My presentation focussed primarily on lessons learned. 
After lunch, a fiesty debate took place entitled: Health Librarianship: The Dodo or the Phoenix.  I can’t accurately summarise all of the excellent arguments made by both teams, but some points that stood out for me were:
·       Many “information” roles are now becoming ICT roles, with the Chief Information Officer post was a central example, as this is an ICT role.
·       We need to become more research orientated to achieve increased credibility and recognition.
·       Roles are being “diluted”, for example one debater’s role strongly involves communication and web management.
·       The question was posed as to whether we would be replaced if we left/took extended leave.
·       A New England Journal of Medicine article from 2005 about Medical Libraries in 2015 was mentioned.  It highlights the important role that Libraries play in providing high quality healthcare, education and research.
·       We need to talk to non-librarians about what we do!
Well done to Louise, Niamh, Katherine, Gerry, Laura, Caroline who all debated so brilliantly!  A fascinating discussion ensued moderated by Diarmuid and a tie vote resulted.  The poster prize went to a very deserving Niamh O’Sullivan, who has very kindly agreed to share it.

Courtesy of Niamh O'Sullivan
Thanks to all HSLG committee members and organisers for a great two days and lots of inspiration, great ideas and networking opportunities and here’s looking forward to HSLG 2016!

Elaine Harrington  - (Special Collections Librarian UCC Library)

On Following a Conference Via Twitter

I’m used to following conferences via Twitter e.g. #ALA15 but such conferences tend to relate to special collections, digitisation, library trends or emerging technologies. What would happen when I followed conference tweets for #hslg2015? My previous forays into health sciences have been brief: 18 months working as a student help on the combined floor of science, engineering and medicine in 2001 - 2002 in the Boole Library and six months working in Boston Health Sciences Library in 2012. It barely scratches the surface of the material that’s available and the terminology that’s used.

I logged onto Twitter on Thursday evening and prepared to speed through the tweets. I’d already viewed the programme and I knew that there were some presentations that I was more interested in as I felt they might contain material that would be more applicable to all areas of libraries. Others I felt were too specific to the health sciences and therefore of less interest to me.

However I felt somewhat daunted from the offset. One of the first tweets I saw was a Maura Flynn tweet on abbreviations used in systematic reviews.

It reminded me of chemistry symbols but whereas I still remember what H2O is, these were completely unknown. As I read more of these particular tweets I realised how it must be for students starting out in any area. Despite our best efforts or best of intentions we can become blase rather easily about our individual areas and forget what the base level is for new students or new staff in a particular area. Note to self: be more forgiving of what others don’t know about Special Collections.

As I read more of the tweets I wondered how many other non-health specialists were reading these tweets. I was reading them but who else? I looked at who commented on the various tweets and mostly they were people in the health sciences. While it’s good to have discussion with our peers and moreover as we don’t have to explain basic terminology to them, are we creating echo chambers? This too was discussed in the aftermath of #conulconf15.

However what did I learn specifically from the #hslg2015 tweets?

  • Publishing more means more visibility for what we do.
  • Time for CPD is limited - do what you are interested in.

  • If you can learn it, you can transfer it.
  • Identify what key points you can take away and implement from every conference or CPD you attend.

  • The future depends on what you do today.

  • Having a bio prepared at all times as you never know when you will need one.


  • Get academics behind your innovations & they will encourage students to us
  • Can use Libguides to promote an event or a special collection.


  • The only way to make a great presentation is preparation, preparation.
  • All of these points are valuable and worth saying repeatedly.

It was clear from the tweets that the conversations delegates had with each other at the breaks weren’t documented. Therefore full awareness of what happens at a conference isn’t possible. However attending a conference virtually is still worthwhile as it leads to greater shared understanding. What about those confusing symbols? Did I get an answer? Ask and librarians help!

Plus I have an invite to #hslg2016!

The presentations for the event can be found here


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