Eóin Davies, Radcliffe Science Library


Hello Everyone. I’m Eóin, the trainee at the Radcliffe Science Library. I graduated from UCL in 2010 with a degree in Theoretical Physics. Since then I have worked in a bookshop and completed an internship at a publishing house.

So far I have mainly been on the issue desk, learning and performing the basics of circulation as well as helping readers out with any printing or scanning issues but I’m also looking forward to spending some time with the subject librarians and collections team in the coming weeks.

When term starts I will be spending a day a week at two smaller libraries, the Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy and the Alexander Library of Ornithology. I’ll also have a short stint at the Health Care Libraries around Christmas.

Placement at the Cairns Library – initial visit

Today I went to visit the Cairns Library before my placement starts there in March (starting on the 3rd March I will shadow someone there every Wednesday for five weeks). I met with the head of Oxford Healthcare Libraries (HCL), and he showed me round the library and gave me some background information on the healthcare libraries as a whole.

We also discussed the matter of the user survey I will carry out for them; and I sat with another librarian (who incidentally I know through NHS Evidence as he is involved with another specialist collection and we have met before) to introduce me to http://www.surveymonkey.com/ which I will be using to conduct the user survey. It is fairly straight forward to use and as such I’m not particularly worried. As for the survey, I am not creating it from scratch: someone else started it last summer and it has not been touched since. The HCL are supposed to carry out some sort of user survey every year, and as such want the survey to at least be circulated before the end of the financial year. My job is to edit the survey; check it through; run a small test survey; circulate the survey in March/April for a month or so; and then analyse the results. I’m excited to get on with it!

The Cairns Library itself is a University library (with links to both Oxford University and Oxford Brookes – the former being the primary); but also an NHS library (being based in a hospital, and with the needs of healthcare professionals who may not be affiliated with either University). The HCL as a whole is comprised of both the Cairns Library (based at the John Radcliffe Hospital) and the Knowledge Centre (based at a facility on the Old Road Campus). There are around 25,000 books within the HCL, and approximately one-third are out on loan at one time. The Cairns also host a number of paper journals; but this number is decreasing as more are made available electronically.

I have wandered through the library a few times (either for meetings with another NHS Evidence specialist collection which is based there; or to IMSU for computer problems) but have never had a look around as such. The only other hospital/healthcare library I have ever been to was at my local hospital years ago when my Mum was doing various courses (she was a midwife) and visited the local hospital library, and I trailed along after her. The library was small and quiet to the extreme (are medical students/professionals inclined to be more quiet in libraries I wonder?!) and I loved it! The Cairns library in comparison is larger (but by no means comparative to the other University libraries!) and with a medley of users (medical students, healthcare professionals (consultants, nurses/midwives etc), research staff/students, teaching staff, and even administration/management staff).

There are many different roles within a library to begin with; and a healthcare library has additional roles such as ‘Outreach Librarians’ and librarians who are more clinically/medically trained to be of use to the HCL users. My placement which has been organised will see me shadowing different people and different roles in the time I am there, and I can’t wait!

Specialist Collections (Quarterly Meeting)

On Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st October 2009, NHS Evidence held their ‘Specialist Collections Quarterly Meeting’ in Manchester. My supervisor (Senior Information Specialist – Shona Kirtley), the women’s health specialist collection clinical lead (Stephen Kennedy) and myself went representing our collection. The aim of such meetings is to discuss and review the progress of the NHS Evidence specialist collections, as well as considering future roles and developments; and discuss the success of NHS Evidence as a whole. I also got to meet up with many of the other specialist collections information specialists and finally put some faces to names!

I found the experience really interesting, and although a lot of what was discussed went over my head a little bit (either I have not yet come across it, or have just started to!); the whole event was rewarding and I’m really glad I got the chance to go.

From a ‘Graduate Library Trainee’ point of view, I appreciate my own role within NHS Evidence a bit more and am coming to understand the implications of working in a healthcare library can have…

…In organising research, evidence and information on particular topics (be it cancer, cardiovascular medicine, or women’s health) and placing such information in a ‘specialist collection’, I am helping (albeit in a distant and indirect way) a consultant or medical professional get the information they need.

Hopefully in the next few months I will have the chance to get some work experience in the Cairns Library which will build on skills I am learning in the medical library environment; and allow me to get a feel for a different type of healthcare library.


NHS Evidence – Women’s Health: http://www.library.nhs.uk/WOMENSHEALTH/

NHS Evidence – Specialist Collections

NHS Evidence (provided by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, NICE) was launched in April 2009 with the aim to provide “easy access to high quality clinical and non-clinical information about health and social care”; and also provide access to 34 specialist collections which cover a wide range of medical conditions and topics. The specialist collections (SC’s) were formerly part of the National Library for Health.

Each SC is a web based collection of linked resources, and makes sure to include the best available evidence in that particular speciality. Collections are maintained by information specialists, a clinical lead (who is a senior practitioner in the field of the SC) and input from a national reference group (representatives from relevant professional organisations, institutions and charities in the field of women’s health who offer guidance in the development of the collection). In the women’s health SC we also have a team of clinical fellows who are responsible for one area of the collection, and offer advice from a clinical viewpoint.

One of the most important (and clinically useful) roles of the SC’s is to produce an ‘Annual Evidence Update’ (AEU) on different subjects within their collection. At the moment, the women’s health SC produces five (with the aim to publish a new ‘Diabetes and Pregnancy’ AEU next year) in the areas of ‘Antenatal care’, ‘Heavy Menstrual Bleeding’, ‘Endometriosis’, ‘Urinary Incontinence’ (held jointly with the kidney diseases and male urogenital SC) and ‘Dysmenorrhoea’. The purpose of AEU’s is to provide a concise overview of new research and evidence that has been published over the last twelve months, and provide summaries and references. Each AEU can take weeks (if not, months) to prepare. In depth search strategies need to be written to catch all possible evidence; results need to be filtered down to a manageable number and of high quality; clinical fellows and medical students need to be organised to write the summaries for each chapter of the AEU; and lastly, editing and finalising of the whole project. It can take a lot of time!

For an example, please see our latest AEU which was ‘Antenatal and Pregnancy Care’ published in September.

The AEU is a good example of the specialist nature of medical librarianship and information management, and goes to show that there are plenty of avenues in the field of library and information management; not just the traditional concept of books!

Lone Librarian…

The Women’s Health specialist collection is exactly that – specialist, and with the risk of being unknown. As a drawback, more work is required to get more users, and get the collection recognised. One way many of the collections do this is exhibit at various conferences/meetings. On Friday 6th November, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) held their ‘Academic Association of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (AAOG) Annual Meeting’. We had an exhibition stand booked, so that we could inform people in the field (clinicians, researchers or students) about the collection, and try and get more people subscribed to our monthly e-mail newsletter.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, my supervisor could not attend with me; but, seeing as it was an excellent marketing opportunity for the collection, I went down to London on my own as a representative of the Women’s Health collection (struggling with my laptop and a banner stand which turned out to be ridiculously awkward and heavy!) I thought it was ironic that I had been nervous the week before at the prospect of half an hour manning the stand by myself whilst my supervisor had a meeting during lunch…never mind the whole day!

After getting the 6.15am bus to London, I got to the RCOG just after 8.00am, where I proceeded to set up my stand. I had an ‘NHS Evidence’ banner stand to place beside the desk, and had taken my laptop with me so I could show people ‘round the library’. My contact time with potential users was restricted to the registration period (9.00-9.30am), morning break (10.25-10.45am) and lunch (12.30-1.45pm). There was a mixture of clinicians, researchers and academics in the field of women’s health attending, and I hoped to at least bring attention to the collection.

As it was, not many people came up to talk to me, but I did get some more subscribers to the newsletter! One aspect I had been worrying about was if people asked questions I couldn’t answer. I’d imagine that’s a general concern for all library trainees, and most people will probably bumble by! I especially felt out of my depth with the possibility that people might ask medically-based questions about the collection (rather than the simple question of how to use it and what else can you do with it!) Luckily, the only question tending that way was whether we included a certain topic, which I knew we did (but also showed the person how to find that subject on the topic tree; akin to another trainee showing a user where the medical books are!)

I really enjoyed the whole day; especially explaining the benefits and advantages to using the collection and what else we do (other than housing a vast amount of medical evidence). I liken it to giving a library tour – showing a user the general layout, what subjects are included, answering any questions, and (always!) hoping to promote the library and gain more members.

Digital libraries may be the way forward in the future, but there will always be the traditional aim of a library…

…to help promote learning!

Sarah Hogg, Women’s Health Library


Hello, I’m Sarah and I am the library trainee at the Women’s Health Library, based at the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the John Radcliffe Hospital. The library is an online resource, and part of an NHS wide service called ‘NHS Evidence’ and was created as part of the ‘High Quality Care for All Report’ from Lord Darzi who stated that “All NHS Staff will have access to a new NHS Evidence service where they will be able to get, through a single web-based portal, authoritative clinical and non-clinical evidence and best practices” (NHS Evidence webpage).

With librarians and Clinical Leads/Fellows working on the project, it is designed to provide professionals involved in the care of woman access to the best current knowledge available, and is checked and updated regularly. I look forward to learning more about the ways a digital library works, and doing a project which will benefit the library.

Previously, I was working in the NHS as a health records clerk whilst studying for my LL.M in Commercial Law; and before this, I read English Language at Lancaster University.