When matters of health are at stake, it is essential that staff, patients, and the public have accurate and reliable information on which to base their decisions. NHS Librarians and Knowledge Specialists provide support to these readers, enabling them to take the best course of action.

The NHS Knowledge and Library Service continually advocates for evidence-based care, including through their campaign #AMillionDecisions.

Below, CILIP chartered librarian Mpilo Siwela shares her experience as an NHS Outreach and Reader Services Librarian.


Mpilo Siwela

Outreach/Reader Services Librarian, Oxford Health Foundation Trust.

NHS librarians provide evidence-based information used in making informed decisions for patient care by healthcare professionals.

This is quite an exciting 2 in 1 role, involving Collection Management and Information Skills Training. I deliver training on information retrieval skills and access to resources both print and electronic to support evidence-based practice for the diverse staff in the organization: for excellent patient care and for personal development.


Outreach Librarian

As an outreach librarian l:

  • Promote the use of evidence-based information in the organisation
  • Reach out to teams, promote our services, point out the resources that we have, and demonstrate how to access them
  • Teach information skills training to large groups and individuals on programmes run by the Learning and Development department
  • Provide up to date standard training sessions to help the staff fully utilize the evidence-based information to make informed decisions about patient care
  • Teach Advanced literature searching and critical appraisal skills to groups and individuals
  • Perform literature searches for staff


Reader Services Librarian

The Reader Services side includes Library collection development – acquisition, weeding, archiving. I manage the acquisition budget and contact our external suppliers.

This role also involves providing resources for the courses run by the organisation’s Learning and Development department after receiving reading lists from course leads.  In the hospital, this also involves supporting the patients in their recovery journey by coordinating patient reading groups, and liaising with Public libraries to get books and reminiscence collections (often helpful for people with dementia).