Thing 17: Prezi and Slideshare

27 10 2012

I admit it: I am lazy about presentations.  When the time comes for me to prepare for training or promotional talks I often find myself going to my most recent powerpoint and updating it.  Ok, part of this is due to time restraints.  But reading the latest Thing on Prezi and Slideshare has made me think that if I managed my time a bit better, gave myself more preparation time and put a bt more thought and creativity into my presentation content, I could produce something really cool.

I have tried Prezi once, about two years ago when I first became aware of it.  I tried it for a project presentation that I did at work, and asked the audience for some feedback.  The response wasn’t great!  Several people applauded me for trying to do something different, but others said it did make them feel a bit motion sick and someone said they preferred powerpoint.  Looking back, it wasn’t the best Prezi, and reading the Prezi tips in Ned Potter’s Prezi, I realise I may have gone a bit OTT with the whole zooming in and out thing.  I agree that people do experience ‘powerpoint fatigue’ but I also think that some people feel more comfortable with powerpoint and are resistant (and suspicious) of anything different!

I’ve never uploaded anything to Slideshare, I suppose because I’m not enormously proud of the hurried and basic presentations that I normally produce at work.  The one occasion on which I’ve spent a lot of time preparing presentations is for conferences, so perhaps I could put some of these on Slideshare.

I’m due to give a talk at a regional meeting in December about my trip to India.  I’d really like to use Prezi for this talk and I’ve got plenty of time to think about content and structure.  My action from this Thing is to produce and deliver an exciting and impressive Prezi for that talk.  And then put it on Slideshare!

By the way, I LOVE the powerpoint resumes that are on Slideshare.  I think it’s such a creative way to present your personality and brand, and if I were an employer I’d be really impressed by this.  If I can find the time I’d love to have a go myself…





Thing 16: Advocacy, getting published and speaking up for the profession

2 10 2012

Advocacy is so important for health libraries because there’s such a low level awareness about what we do, inside the health service as well as amongst the general public.  People are always surprised when I tell them what I do, and often people misunderstand and think that I wheel around a trolley of Mills and Boon for inpatients in the hospital.  I am really passionate about the value of library and knowledge staff within the NHS and I certainly consider advocacy to be part of my role (even though it’s not in my job description). I consider it a professional duty!

The advocacy that I’ve been involved in has mainly been through work -I’ve spoken at non-library conferences and found people to be intrigued about the role of a Clinical Librarian.  I’ve also published an article in a renal medicine journal about a project that I developed with the renal unit in the hospital.  But come to think of it, these activities have all been within healthcare – perhaps I should be pushing the boundaries and advocating to a wider audience, i.e. the general public.

I like to think that I do this (to some extent) via Twitter – as well as an active professional network I do have non-library followers too.

I also see an opportunity to advocate on behalf of other library sectors – for example, my son (16 months) and I used the local library a lot during my maternity leave, to go to Baby Bounce and Rhyme sessions and meet other mums.  His Nan still takes him a couple of times a week and he borrows books (even completing his Summer Reading Challenge!).  I feel strongly about the value of my local public library in the community so maybe I should be advocating on their behalf, as a fellow librarian and user of the service. 

So two tasks for me:1)  identify ways to advocate health libraries to the wider general public (any suggestions welcome?!) and 2) write a letter to my local paper advocating the value of my local public library.





Why a librarian is better than a robot / computer / volunteer [delete as necessary]

1 10 2012

As the furore about replacing professional public library staff with volunteers continues, I was this week faced with a similar misunderstanding of our profession in the health sector.

During a presentation to doctors and nurses about the value of taking library and knowledge services beyond the walls of the library and having librarians on the ward, one of my audience asked me, “Why do we need librarians on the ward when I can just use UpToDate?”.  For those who aren’t aware, UpToDate is an online clinical decision-making tool that aims to provide doctors with immediate reference to a summary of the best evidence with a few clicks of the mouse. 

Fortunately (or unfortunately), I have been asked this question before, and I was ready and armed with my response.  I thought it might be useful to share my reply for anyone else who is forced to justify their existence in the face of cost cutting exercises.

So, here goes: why a librarian is better than a robot / computer / volunteer [delete as necessary]:

• Librarians offer a personalised service, where the information provided that is tailored to the needs of the individual.
• The librarian offers a human interface that can engage with health professionals and forge relationships with customers that can bring about culture change.
• If a librarian doesn’t know something, they will know where to look, whereas if you can’t find what you want on a clinical decision-making tool, you’re likely to give up.
• A librarian will consult a wealth of specialised resources in order to answer your question rather than just one.
• A librarian will save the health professional the time (and associated cost) of searching themselves.
• From my experience having a librarian involved in the clinical team results in a number of additional spin-off projects (e.g. support for audit, Journal Clubs, continuing education) that a clinical decision-making tool just couldn’t!
• Clinical decision-making tools provide a valuable snapshot of the latest evidence, but don’t substitute a full literature search.
• Having the presence of a librarian in the team encourages everyone to adopt an evidence based practice mindset and encourages discussions about the evidence among clinicians.

I’d love to hear other suggestions to add to this list, or if anyone else has experienced similar direct questions!





Thing 15: Attending and presenting conferences and events

1 10 2012

My first professional conference was the CILIP Health Libraries Group 2008 conference in Cardiff.  I think I spent the whole two days open-mouthed and silent, feeling overawed by the calibre of the presenters.  I struggled to network, feeling inexperienced and naive, and I dreaded break times when I would be dry mouthed and paralysed when approached by other people.  I tagged along with a more confident colleague and didn’t really go to many talks on my own.

Why did I feel this way?  And how could I have approached the situation differently?  I was new in my role, and felt daunted by people who already knew each other.  In hindsight, if I’d done a bit more preparation I could have anticipated who I was likely to meet, what questions I might like to ask them and what we might have in common.  It would also have been useful to ascertain some personal objectives beforehand, for example, ‘Gather ideas about marketing library services to nurses’, or ‘Find out more about using social bookmarking tools in libraries’.  By examining the programme in detail (reading abstracts as well as titles!) I could have planned my two days in advance and made sure that I attended the most relevant and useful sessions.

Since then, I feel like I’ve come a long way.  I attended the same conference two years later and presented a poster – putting my ideas and work out for discussion.  This time I went with specific objectives:

  • Find out more about current good practice in health librarianship from across the UK
  • Apply some of this good practice to my work
  • Network with health library colleagues from outside the NW region

These objectives are quite general, but at the time they helped me to focus on what I wanted to get out of the conference.  I’ve also spoken at medical and education conferences and experienced the new challenge of presenting library projects to non-library delegates. 

I’ve been invited to speak about a project where I attend ward rounds in the Intensive Care Unit in my Trust and provide the best evidence to assist clinical decisions at the bedside.  It’s a Critical Care conference in New Delhi, India.  I’ve been fortunate enough to secure funding for my trip and feel completely overwhelmed by how lucky I am to have this opportunity.  No doubt I’ll report on my experience in a later blog post.  In the meantime, here’s some of my conference (and other events) tips:

  • Examine the programme in detail before you go (don’t leave it until the train journey, or the opening talk).  If you’re going with colleagues from your team, agree to attend different talks so that you can pool your learning afterwards.
  • If you’re presenting a poster, bear in mind that you’ll have to stand in the exhibition area during breaks which may mean you miss doing some browsing and networking of your own.  SMILE at people as they walk past your poster and invite them to take a look.  Ask for feedback if you’re feeling brave.  Whenever I present a poster I produce some mini version of the poster as an A5 flyer and hand these out to people.  They can take them away and contact you after the conference if they wish.  Plus they’re more likely to remember you.
  • When taking notes during talks, don’t write down what the presenter is saying – you can get easily download their presentation from the conference website afterwards.  It’s more useful to note down your own reflection on their ideas.  When you return to work you’ll have a ‘real time’ reflective log to look back on – particularly useful for Chartership or if you’re writing a report / article about your experience of attending.
  • If you think that one day you might present at a conference yourself, use this opportunity to critique other people’s presentations and posters – in my reflection from HLG2010 I wrote, “…the best presentations were those who added humour, images and practical examples”.  That gave me some real inspiration for my own presentations. 
  • On the subject of reflection, don’t forget to go back and revisit your immediate reflection 3 months or 6 months later.  Examine how you’ve changed your practice as a result of what you learned – have you implemented any new ideas at work or changed the way you deliver existing services?  Make a note of it – it will come in handy as evidence for your next appraisal or for Chartership.
  • If the conference you’re attending is a non-library conference, be prepared for people to ask, “So what does a health librarian actually do…?”  Use this as an opportunity to advocate the profession and demystify the role of librarians.  It’s a good idea to have your elevator pitch prepared beforehand so that you’re not caught off-guard.  I’ve had some really eye-opening conversations with people when they’ve asked me this question – and there’s nothing more satisfying than someone telling you that they’re off to seek out the librarian in their own organisation.
  • As tempting as it might be to skip the social part of the conference (usually evening dinner and entertainment), especially if you’re shy – don’t.  This is often where networking is most valuable – you can make contacts on a personal level as well as a professional. 

I only returned from maternity leave in March this year, so New Delhi will be my first conference in a while.  What I’m really looking forward to, as a recent Twitter convert,  is tweeting during the conference.  Watch this space!